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January 24, 2006 > Athletic Trainers help Ohlone Renegades stay healthy

Athletic Trainers help Ohlone Renegades stay healthy

The drama of sports competition is at times interrupted when a player is injured. Crowds hush and an expectant air reigns while an expert with a unique set of skills examines the extent of damage. This specialist must quickly determine if the athlete can and should continue play, move to the sidelines, or seek additional medical attention. At that moment, athletes relinquish the limelight to the Athletic Trainer, a unique and highly trained medical professional.

Although Certified Athletic Trainers (ATC) may not be well known to the general public, these people are highly valued by coaches and athletes alike. While most visible at sporting events, trainers work behind the scenes to prevent sports injuries, often solving medical problems before they escalate and threaten an athlete's ability to participate. Athletic Trainers are experts at injury prevention, immediate recognition and evaluation of sports injuries during practice or competition and rehabilitation and reconditioning.

Christopher Warden, MS, ATC, CSCS, Head Athletic Trainer and Certified Conditioning and Strength Specialist at Ohlone College, says that the key ingredient of a successful athletic program is to avoid injury and illness. When speaking of his profession and colleagues, he notes, "Prevention is our middle name." Warden and his assistant, Christela Fabio, ATC, work with students and interns to help protect and maximize the athletic potential of all athletic teams at Ohlone College.

Athletic trainers work under the auspices of physicians; Ohlone trainers currently work with David Bell, M.D. and John Jaureguito, M.D. of the Sports Medicine Center of Washington Hospital Healthcare System. Certification of athletic trainers is attained through a rigorous examination process- written and practical. The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Board of Certification sets high standards for certification and requires continuing education to retain this status. Athletic trainers must be state licensed by many states as well.

Certified Athletic Trainers can be found in many settings including schools, military, industrial medicine, and sports medicine clinics, to name a few. Warden, who has been helping athletes prevent and recover from injuries at Ohlone College for the past four years says that although the Athletic Training degree program at Ohlone is relatively new - the two-year program is transferable to four-year programs at San Jose State University and San Diego State University among others- reliance on the skills and expertise of athletic trainers is not.

Athletic Trainer Certification requires extensive instruction including hands-on experience in a wide variety of health care disciplines including physiology, psychology, kinesiology, biomechanics, nutrition, emergency evaluation and care of injury and illness, pharmacology, pathology, exercise physiology, and much more. Warden says that a major ingredient of success for an Athletic Trainer is the ability to elicit trust from both athletes and coaches. Fabio agrees and says the psychological training she received is invaluable.

Attitudes of athletes can vary widely by sport and individual. Each sport has its own challenges and associated injuries which Warden dubs their "demons." As an example, Warden says that swimmers injuries range through almost anything followed by "itis" such as bursitis. He notes that the sooner athletes seek the advice of an athletic trainer, the easier it is to try to correct the problem. Fabio adds that athletes, anxious to regain mobility after an injury, are usually amenable to following an aggressive strategy.

Asked why he entered the profession, Warden says that while in high school, a close friend broke his leg while playing on a school team. His recovery, aided by physical therapy, was impressive, so, inspired by the practitioner's knowledge and assistance, Warden decided to pursue physical therapy as a career. As a Long Beach State undergraduate, he investigated the possibility of entering Physical Therapy training and found the program "severely impacted," allowing only a few applicants to enroll.

Fortunately, Athletic Training offered everything he wanted and more. He says that being close to the "action and adrenalin" of athletics and the first care person to be at an athlete's side if necessary is a great feeling, noting that, in athletics, "we are the insurance policy." Fabio says that for her, the attraction to Athletic Training grew from an interest in medicine while in high school in San Diego. As a volunteer at a local hospital, Fabio heard about the profession and decided to "try it out" when she entered San Diego State University. She has not been disappointed.

Ohlone students interested in careers in athletic training, physical therapy, sports medicine, health and fitness instructors, or other related health care careers, are encouraged to participate in the internship program of the athletic training staff. This provides an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and practical experience in the athletic training and sports medicine setting. High school students interested in a career as a Certified Athletic Trainer can attend Ohlone College, receive transferable credits and achieve invaluable practical experience helping Renegade teams to stay healthy and competitive.

Athletic Training Department
(510) 659-7382

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