Avera Medical Minute: Athletic trainers help more than just athletes

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - One of the most popular places we see athletic trainers is in NFL games when a player gets hurt. But athletic trainers don't just deal with athletes.

March is actually dedicated to recognizing athletic trainers. Many of us are used to seeing athletic trainers helping athletes at some type of professional level.

"When everybody thinks athletic trainer, you think of a water bottle and a fanny pack," Derek West said, who is an athletic trainer with Avera Orthopedics.

Athletic trainers can be on the field or in an office too.

"Our clinic is just a different role but still kind of the same skills. We're still helping patients treat their orthopedic conditions, either we're fitting them in braces, starting them on home exercise programs or helping them guide through post operative care after surgery," West said.

He sees more than just athletes though.

"We treat all pediatrics to the weekend warriors to the geriatric population," he said.

Eric Page works solely with athletes at the college level. For the past five years, he has worked for Avera as an athletic trainer for the University of Sioux Falls.

"We're healthcare professionals that are versed in injury management and emergency care of injuries but also in the rehabilitation of injures," Page said.

Athletic trainers need a Master's Degree in order to practice. Page said he enjoys being able to work with high-level athletes.

"As an athlete in high school and college myself, I suffered a few injuries and being able to provide an impact just like they did for myself," Page said.

That was almost the same reason Caitlyn Martin pursued a career as an athletic trainer.

"What's really funny, when I was in high school, I actually was in the training room a lot. Lots of injuries. I was a runner," she said.

Now she's the one helping high school athletes.

"Just working with the kids really. You get to see someone be at their lowest point having that injury and through that whole process of building them and then their full return back to sport," Martin said.

She helps students just as Page would with diagnosing, rehabbing, and preventing. They are there when something happens on the field or on the court. Martin plays an extra role at the high school level though.

"I kind of act as a little counselor a little bit sometimes, especially with my high school athletes," she said. "I've had kids come in and they say hey Caitlyn, can I just talk to you for a second?"

They are three different people, all with the same title and the same goal for their patients though.

"Seeing someone from start to finish is very rewarding," West said.

"Get back to doing what they love to do," Page said.

All of these athletic trainers help out physicians in the role they serve as well.