The month of March is National Athletic Training Month as promoted by the National Athletic Trainers' Association to spread awareness about the important work of athletic trainers. During the month of March, we'll spotlight Licensed Athletic Trainers across the state, asking them why they participate in education-based athletics as a trainer. We will also talk to Athletic Directors from around the state to describe the impact that having Licensed Athletic Trainers in their schools has had on their students and families.
Our final feature is a question and answer Dr. Kevin Burroughs who is Director of the Atrium Health Sports Medicine and Injury Center. He is also a member of the NCHSAA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
How does having a LAT increase safety and minimize risk of your student-athletes?
Dr. Burroughs: I have been fortunate to work with LATs in several capacities. Regarding the high school setting, our athletic trainers play a key preventive role in equipment evaluation assuring proper fit. They also advocate for the mitigation of heat risk which is particularly crucial for us in North Carolina. By their relationships with the athletes, they have been key on many occasions in recognizing an athlete in trouble even before the player presents with a complaint. At the collegiate level this relationship is perhaps even more important as the demands on the athlete increase to an even higher level. Problems are not only “on field” injuries, but also in recognizing the psychological stressors that student athletes face off the field as well. In both venues I will often rely on the “outside” information that these professionals have due to their relationships with these athletes to help for a more complete plan for their medical care.
In what way(s) does having a LAT impact money saved and cost containment as medical services for your student-athletes are provided on campus?
Dr. Burroughs: In both high school and college settings, our LATs provide the largest financial impact by being able to deliver health care services on-site for the student-athlete. Many injuries can be addressed by the LAT and not have to be referred out of school where costs may be increased. Instead of being seen for rehabilitation visits 2-3 times per week, and charged each visit, care can be delivered in a daily, or multiple times per day fashion. Additionally, these athletes can have ongoing assessments which can assure that these athletes are getting the best of care.
The LAT is also very adept at being able to help these student-athletes navigate the healthcare system in the most efficient way when further treatments are necessary.
How are parents of the student-athletes benefited by having a LAT managing their child’s health care?
Dr. Burroughs: Having an LAT as a front-line member of the healthcare team allows parents to have a direct link to follow the progress of treatment for each injury episode. With the LAT being there every day, it is much easier for me as a physician to relay information on progress and to be able to receive day-to-day evaluations to help in the management of the student-athlete’s care. Many situations arise where parents may not know the best and most efficient way to access care and this can be done through our LATs. An example would be an injury occurring after hours. The LAT can stabilize the injury, and through direct contact with the physician arrange for them to be seen first thing next morning instead of having to use a more expensive option such as the emergency room.
To what extent is the student-athlete’s academic success impacted by having a LAT managing their health care?
Dr. Burroughs: In the management of concussions, LATs are a knowledgeable advocate for supporting student-athletes in their recovery from this injury. Often LATs are looked to for recommendations on the assessment of concussion injuries that may occur at a school in other settings such as PE, or on the playground. LATs can also serve as a professional role model. While some student-athletes may be inspired to a healthcare related field, others will look to LATs as professionals with a high level of education and training and be inspired to acquire the same in their chosen field.
In what ways does knowing that a LAT is managing the health care of student-athletes you are responsible for allow you to rest better at night?
Dr. Burroughs: I have been spoiled in always having LATs at the schools and systems that I have had the opportunity to provide care for and manage. It is helpful to know that I can trust their judgement in appropriately engaging me to help them manage injuries and issues that arise in the care of the athletes in these settings. Knowing that there is another licensed healthcare provider to rely on in this setting assures me that we can provide the best medical care for these athletes.