Arizona hoping to address need for athletic trainers

September 24, 2014 / Coaching
Concern over injuries and their long-term effects has grown in recent years, highlighting the need for athletic trainers at sporting events. The problem is largely funding and, in some cases, a lack of licensed ATs to meet the demand.

This issue is gaining momentum in Arizona, where high schools are not required by law to employ ATs. That’s something advocates for student-athlete safety want to change.

According to The Arizona Republic, advocates hope to create a 10-year plan to put an AT in every high school. Right now, Hawaii is the only state to do so.

From the story:

But regular season play at Arizona high schools, mainly in rural areas, lacks professionals who are trained to appropriately care for younger players, who are more vulnerable to long-term effects of sports injuries, said Dr. Javier Cardenas, a neurologist who is the key leader of the Arizona effort and who directs the Barrow Concussion Network at Barrow Neurological Institute.

“There’s always the question from parents about the one thing that they can do for their kids when it comes to their safety, and right now, it’s focused on concussion,” Cardenas said.

“The one thing they can do is have an athletic trainer at their school, because they are the ones that really are protecting our kids — sometimes from themselves, sometimes from coaches that want to push things through, sometimes from parents that want to push things through — and making sure that our kids are safe in participating in athletics.”

The Arizona Board of Athletic Training, which regulates and licenses the profession, is among the groups pushing for stronger presence of athletic trainers in high-school sports. Their absence in some schools leads to greater liability and more complaints to the board, Executive Director Randy Frost said.

Ideally, any plan supporting schools and their efforts to find qualified ATs would take less than a decade, but as the story points out, funding for education is already an issue in Arizona.

A number of schools across the country still don’t have access to licensed ATs. These efforts need to take place on a national scale, but it’s comforting to see change start somewhere.

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