The roles of Cal State Fullerton athletic trainers with treating student-athletes go beyond ice packs and bandages. Injury prevention is what earns these professionals their keep.
Not to be confused with personal trainers, athletic trainers work hand in hand with a team of doctors and coaches to keep athletes in optimal shape. The Athletic Training Program at CSUF provides care for student-athletes through prevention, evaluation, management and rehabilitation.
“The more you can prevent and be proactive, it will cut down on injury time, loss of time to play in the field and time rehabbing,” said Michael Hoang, an assistant athletic trainer for CSUF men’s soccer.
Maximizing preventative care allows the trainers to spend more time and effort with student-athletes. Injury prevention comes in many forms and takes place both on and off the field.
Prior to the start of a season, Hoang works with the Department of Kinesiology to perform a functional movement screening. FMS is a total body screening where athletes are tested through numerous exercises to find deficiencies in their movement patterns.
The deficiencies vary in weakness or tightness of muscles and the trainers then try to improve the deficiencies to the best of their ability.
The end goal of the assessment is to develop an exercise program to work on weaknesses found during the test. Athletic trainers also continue to work on these deficiencies with the strength and conditioning staff on campus.
Treatment of everyday maintenance involves asking students how they feel and developing a plan to help make students feel better in time for practice or a game.
Preventative care also takes shape through baseline testing. This test is also done during preseason and is administered to act as a measure of cognitive health.
When an athlete does become injured with a possible concussion, doctors and athletic trainers can refer back to this test to compare the injury with a healthy brain.
With setbacks other than concussions, the athletic trainers work alongside doctors and coaches develop with a treatment plan to get the athletes playing at a similar rate of performance they had prior to the injury.
The athletic trainers have a good idea of how players perform prior to an injury because of time spent with the team at practices.
“We do more than just put out water. We are monitoring the conditions, we are monitoring how someone looks as they’re playing and looking at them overall,” Hoang said.
Prevention rehab helps athletes by building strength in parts of the body through exercise. By building strength through vulnerable areas, athletic trainers can improve the athlete’s mobility and agility to decrease injuries.
“I am a big fan of prevention. I like doing prevention exercises to cut back on lower extremity injuries,” said Jamie Potter, an assistant athletic trainer for CSUF women’s basketball.
These preventive treatments are aimed toward strength and core building. For Hoang and Potter, prevention in sports is focused on lower extremity injuries which include ankles, knees and the lower back.
Prevention also helps players during away games. The athletic trainers travel with the team, which allows for better supervision when working closely with the athletes.
The athletic trainers bring an array of equipment into the hotel including ultrasound stem, recovery boots and hydroculators.
Keeping the players able-bodied is important, as they have many responsibilities in their lives including school, practice and games. Athletic trainers work to keep athletes healthy through daily interactions.
“If I can do my job on my end to keep them healthy, it makes it a lot easier for them to do everything else,” Potter said.
With the help of athletic trainers, players can stay on the field and work toward a successful season.