Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

An inside look at athletic training at USM

Patrick Higgins

Posted on April 19, 2016 in Sports
By USM Free Press

Nick Beauchesne Sports Editor

Anyone who has played competitive sports during their lives has probably had the experience of having to visit the athletic trainer’s office at some point. Whether it is during practice, a game or while training during the offseason, injuries happen. When they do, it is crucial that the athlete receives treatment from a specialist that knows the best course of action to get the player healthy and back in the game. Luckily for the athletes at USM, our university has an Athletic Training program staffed with professionals in the field, as well as students acquiring the tools necessary to become certified athletic trainers themselves.

“The USM College of Science, Technology and Health and the department of Exercise, Health and Sports Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in Athletic Training, Exercise Science and Health Sciences” according to the department overview on the university website.

With these three concentrations,  students here have an opportunity to learn the skills required of individuals that seek to become professionals in any of a wide range of fields related to the degree programs it offers.

Noel Neptune, clinical education coordinator and lecturer at USM, describes some of the changes that have developed over just the past ten years in terms of how people in the field diagnose and treat concussions.

“Back then if athletes were asymptomatic after ten minutes of initially showing signs of concussion, they were able to return to the field of play that same game. Now, there is a strict and thorough return to play protocol that can take several weeks” Neptune said.

As much as concussions are at the forefront of people’s thoughts on modern day athletic injuries and treatment, there are a multitude of other injuries that come up over the course of a season. The students that matriculate through these majors get comprehensive training across the wide spectrum of injuries and treatment options.

Along with education received in the classroom, students take clinicals where they receive on the job experience. Lindsay Webber, a sophomore in the Athletic Training program, is currently in her clinical rotation this semester working with the USM baseball team.

“Most often we will have deal with overuse injuries. UCL tears and Tommy John surgery are common,” said Webber. Those people are out for the season after the receive the required surgery.”

These types of injuries, focused on the shoulder, are especially common in baseball. Each sport tends to see specific injuries that are more common to that sport. Basketball, for instance, sees a large amount of lower body injuries, ranging from ankle sprains to knee injuries. Head injuries can be common occurences in all sports, and are treated with the care and attention that they require.

These majors, as rewarding and beneficial as they are to those that choose them as their focus, are quite demanding. “We experience a pretty big drop in numbers after the first clinical rotation” Webber said. “I think you really learn the most during your clinical hours.”

The challenge that this course load exacts on the student, though, is worth it. They make connections with professionals in the field, get the chance to have on-the-job training while learning their craft and often times line themselves up for career placement upon graduation.