It’s rare to find a high school, much less a middle school, where medical experts are at the ready on the sidelines to help assist student athletes with injury care and prevention. Thanks to Memorial Regional Health’s Sports Medicine program, this opportunity is available for our kids at the middle school, high school and college levels.
If your child plays sports, you’ve most likely met Marshall Kraker. He’s been a certified athletic trainer with MRH for the past few years, working in partnership with the Moffat County School District. He’s now joined by Lindsey Short, a master’s level athletic trainer, like Marshall.
“Between the two of us, we make most games. Sometimes, we both cover high-impact sports, like football, volleyball and soccer,” Short said. “Dr. John Leblanc, MRH orthopaedic surgeon, is a soccer player, so he sometimes joins us on the field, as well.”
Certified Athletic Trainers, or ATCs, are health professionals, and most hold a master’s degree and certification in their field. Athletic trainers can do much more than tape an ankle or give advice about conditioning. They’ve been trained to handle medical emergencies, diagnose injuries, provide rehab and help athletes avoid injury. Kraker specializes in concussion management, acute injury and strength and conditioning, while Short specializes in manual therapy and strength and conditioning. They complement each other well.
“Having two of us really increases the number of athletes we can see and the quality of the care we can provide,” Short said.
The ATCs divvy up the sports and schools, generally showing up 30 minutes before practice. That way, they can chat with the coaches about who needs what and work with athletes one-on-one to resolve orthopaedic issues.
“The coaches with Moffat County School District are amazing to work with. They utilize us for weight training, injury rehab and conditioning. It’s a great partnership,” Short said.
Recently, a high school football player was injured, and there was worry he wouldn’t be able to play his senior year. The ATCs, doctors and coaches rallied around him and came up with a treatment plan that’s gotten him back on the field.
“A big part of the job is playing detective with orthopaedic injuries. Students come to us with pain, and we have to figure out the source. Parents appreciate the amount of work we spend trying to figure out what’s wrong. Once we find the source, we build a treatment and strengthening program that fits their needs,” Kraker said.
Having athletic trainers at sporting events is a best practice for school districts, and it’s a trend that’s catching on. According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, 70 percent of high schools have some access to athletic trainers, but only 37 percent have a full-time athletic trainer. That puts Moffat County School District way ahead of the curve, with two ATCs at its disposal.
“I’m really proud that MRH allows us to offer these services to the community. I love working with student athletes. It’s a pleasure to watch them truly enjoy the sport and feel proud of what they accomplish,” Short said.
The next time you attend a school game, look for Kraker or Short on the sidelines. To learn more about athletic trainers at MRH, visit memorialregionalhealth.com.