If your child is a student-athlete, you already know the importance of keeping them in tip-top condition. Between training sessions, practice schedules and games, there are a lot of opportunities for a simple injury which can derail an athlete for an entire season.
Athletic trainers offer all-encompassing support to student-athletes. Our athletic trainers at Roper St. Francis Healthcare provide injury and illness prevention, treatments and specialist referrals to high school athletes in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties.
What do athletic trainers do?
Athletic trainers are not the same as personal trainers or physical therapists. Those roles focus on strength, conditioning and sports medicine-focused care, while athletic trainers focus on real-time injury prevention and treatment for student-athletes.
Sometimes a physical injury can be caused by nutritional or mental health factors — and athletic trainers are experts in identifying the source of the problem.
“We provide comprehensive care to our student athletes,” says Elizabeth Hollenczer, a certified athletic trainer at Roper St. Francis Healthcare. “We assess the athlete and can utilize referrals through our network of nutritionists, doctors, mental health providers or specialists.”
Nationwide, almost half of all American high schools don’t have athletic trainers for their student-athletes. Roper St. Francis Healthcare is proud to be the region’s largest provider of sports medicine treatment and care. Our trainers provide athletic training services to:
- 9 Charleston County high schools
- 1 Berkeley County high school
- 3 Dorchester County high schools
- 3 private schools
- 1 state charter school
Athletic trainers are contracted to work for a specific school, covering all school athletic activities including practices and home games. They provide care for athletes but may also treat coaches, referees or spectators.
“Because we cover all high school sports, we see a wide variety of injuries with our players,” says Liz. “We’ll assess and treat the injury on the sidelines and then see the athlete the next day in our office.” It’s not just about treating an injury but getting athletes back on the field or court in the healthiest way possible.
How can athletic trainers help student-athletes?
Athletic trainers know that game-time injuries come with a lot of adrenaline, which alters how the injury swells, bruises and hurts. Athletic trainers typically perform full assessments on student-athletes within 12-24 hours of the injury. If needed, trainers can tap into the extensive Roper St. Francis Healthcare network to make the appropriate referrals for additional care.
“Starting treatment at the right place at the right time is key,” says Liz. “Athletic trainers streamline care — which saves time, money and gets the recovered athlete back in the game sooner.”
Another advantage to athletic trainers: they can tell you whether or not you need X-rays or to see a specialist. For example, a mild ankle sprain is a common injury and usually requires seven days to fully heal. If a student-athlete goes to a pediatrician or urgent care, they could receive orders to stay off that ankle for two to four weeks — orders that can’t be over-ridden by the athletic trainer. Instead of that costly and time-intensive route, close monitoring by an athletic trainer ensures the quickest recovery time. Expert care from an athletic trainer connects athletes with the right specialist should the injury require additional care.
Athletic trainers and sports physicals
If you have a student athlete who is planning to compete in the upcoming school year, they must undergo a yearly sports physical to make sure there are no unseen health problems. Athletic trainers help organize and facilitate sports physicals for student athletes.
A doctor must sign off on each student’s physical, but athletic trainers streamline the process by taking blood pressures, heart rates and reviewing an athlete’s medical history. During a sports physical clinic, athletic trainers and doctors tag-team to see hundreds of students in one day.
“Athletic trainers truly help things run smoothly,” says Liz. “We’re a catch-all for student-athletes — we’re here for anything they need. Our goal is to empower strong and healthy athletes.”
For more information about certified athletic trainers, to learn more about the Roper St. Francis Healthcare sports medicine program or to make an appointment with a sports medicine specialist, please call (843) 402-CARE.