DHEC Celebrates National Athletic Trainers Month

March is National Athletic Training Month (NATM) and DHEC would like to celebrate how Athletic Trainers (ATs) across South Carolina impact healthcare and improve lives. Athletic Trainers are highly skilled healthcare professionals who provide preventative services, emergency care, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. ATs are educated on handling a myriad of medical events, including catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injuries, sudden cardiac arrest, heat illness, and concussions. With over 1,050 state-certified Athletic Trainers working in South Carolina today, this is a career field that is steadily growing and yet still enigmatic to the general public.

Mary W. Neely, DHEC Athletic Trainers Coordinator

“People bring up football games and major sports events when they try to think of where they could find an Athletic Trainer on the job. They don’t realize that ATs across the state work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide compassionate healthcare services all over the place, including schools, hospitals, corporate workplaces, the military, police and fire departments, and even the performing arts!”

Kevin Ennis, Vice-Chairman, DHEC Athletic Trainers Advisory Council

“Personally, I am a partner in a Physical Therapy practice that provides Athletic Trainers to local schools and community events. Athletic Trainers are highly adaptable; we are the first to see an injured or ill athlete, triage, and ensure that the athlete receives the appropriate care; and we guide the athlete’s full recovery and return to participation.”

It is absolutely vital for DHEC and AT associations, including our own Advisory Council, to continue working together. Kevin is a main member of DHEC’s Athletic Trainers Advisory Council, which is a committee that provides guidance and invaluable knowledge to the agency in order to ensure that the voices of Athletic Trainers across the state are being heard, and that progress can continue to be made to improve their workforce. One great effort that was recently made to advance how ATs work in the state was the proposed amendments made to Regulation 61-96, Athletic Trainers, which was submitted to Legislative Council for General Assembly review earlier this year. Athletic Trainers across the state comply with this regulation in order to be state certified and conduct their healthcare services to the best of their abilities. The regulatory amendments went through a promulgation process last year that included multiple stakeholder meetings, public comments, and a public hearing held at the December 10, 2020 DHEC Board meeting.

Athletic Trainers, their patients, and general members of the public participated in the regulation’s promulgation. If approved by the General Assembly, then the amendments will surely benefit all for years to come. “People either do not know or are confused as to who ATs are and what ATs are capable of,” reminds Kevin. “Our Statute and Regulation affects each Athletic Trainer in the state as to how we practice, and more people need to be made aware as to what is in the regulation and that Athletic Trainers are “Essential to Healthcare.”

We encourage any member of the public interested in learning more about the regulation, including  receiving updates on the status of the amendments as they go through the current legislative session, to please email HQRegs@dhec.sc.gov in order to be included in the regulation’s stakeholder list.

With COVID-19 restrictions and infection control measures in place, Athletic Trainers are also going the extra mile in ensuring that they provide healthcare services in a safe environment. Due to the close-contact nature of the work that ATs do in physically treating and rehabilitating patients, reducing the risk of transmission for COVID-19 is imperative.

Andy Clawson, Chairman, DHEC Athletic Trainer Advisory Committee; Director, Sports Medicine The Citadel

“The Athletic Trainer is the frontline to an athlete’s primary healthcare – and are essential in preserving their wellbeing.”

Athletic Trainers not only provide healthcare services, but they are also very well educated in risk mitigation and the improvement of evidence-based medicine. 

Brad Drake, Past President SCATA; Former Ass.
Athletic Director – Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer, Charleston Southern University

“Athletic Trainers matter because we protect the wellbeing of students, workers, and other constituencies, which in turn helps mitigate risk. As an AT in the collegiate setting, we work tirelessly to provide for the safety, health, and wellbeing of the student-athlete by providing athlete-centered, evidence-based medicine. We are always improving our practices and doing what is best for those we help.”

An Athletic Trainer is a consummate professional who works collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to rehabilitate a patient to work, life, and sport. They are there at the beginning of a wellness plan for an athlete down to the post-recovery of any injury or condition that they are caring for.  DHEC is proud to celebrate Athletic Trainers in South Carolina and showcase the exceptional work that they do this month, from preventative care to rehabilitation, and bring more attention to the impressive role they play in keeping our athletes, students, performers, and overall communities healthy and safe.

Want to know more facts about Athletic Trainers?

ATs impact healthcare before, during, and after an injury occurs. ATs are experts in injury and illness prevention – in fact, ATs spend nearly 50% of their time providing preventative health care. Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of being an AT is helping an athlete, performer, or public servant return to the sport, stage or job they love after sustaining an injury.

Areas of AT impact include: 

  • Injury and Illness Prevention: ATs implement injury prevention programs and help mitigate risk by developing venue specific emergency action plans. 
  • Examination and Diagnosis of Injuries: ATs help ensure that patients receive the necessary health screenings as well as evaluate injuries when they occur. 
  • Immediate and Emergency Care: ATs provide emergency care for injury and illnesses such as concussion, cardiac arrest, spine injuries, heat stroke, diabetes, allergic reactions and asthma attacks. 
  • Therapeutic Intervention: ATs recondition and rehabilitate injuries, illnesses and general medical conditions for optimal performance and function. 
  • Health Care Administration: ATs are pioneers of change. Through injury data collected by ATs, the athletic training profession is shaping injury prevention and identifying new ways to keep patients healthy while reducing overall health care costs. 

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