The football season is over in high school and will be completed soon in college and the pros, however that does not mean the concussion risk is gone. Yes, it will be reduced slightly, but awareness is continued and the importance of an athletic trainer is underscored more. During the winter months we will spend time blogging about the life of an athletic trainer – what I do, and what we, as athletic trainers, can do for schools.
Some times I wonder if my family recognizes me. There’s a struggle between a job that I absolutely LOVE and the loved ones that feel the brunt of tough hours. I am sure this profession is not the only one that deals with it. Heck, I am sure we all feel the same from time to time.
Last week there were four events at the high school, with three more scheduled this week. As we all know, they are in the evenings, a time traditionally reserved for family bonding and care giving. Even if it is attending games where your son or daughter is playing, that would be family time. It’s a problem that coaches have had to deal with forever and one we as athletic trainers struggle with at times. Balancing the days that turn into 13-hour shifts and getting to hear and empathize with your spouse/significant other can be maddening. That is why I cherish what my wife does for me, helping (actually taking the lion’s share) me raise our young family. One thing I believe that she understands is that even though I give my all at home, when I give my all at work I am protecting other people’s kids. Comforting my child when they are hurt is easy. Its natural, but comforting a child that is not mine, as well as comforting a family that has questions, takes a lot of practice.
Teaching may not be the athletic trainer’s top responsibility, but it is something that comes with the territory. Take for example a situation that happened yesterday, where I had a meeting with a mom and dad about an individual with post-concussion issues and why it was not a good idea for them to return to sports/activities. Sure they had the best of intentions, wanting their kid to play and be involved and believing that everything was just fine. Sure they felt the pain of their kid when they yearned to be on the court, and had a hard time understanding why, if a doctor said it was OK, I had a concern.
What was evident in my teaching and talking with the parents is that the full grasp of what concussions can morph into if not taken seriously was not understood. They had been given educational information, paperwork, and general guidelines, and any and all information they wanted or needed was available. What they chose to hold onto was the authority of a doctor and the stigma of what we once thought.
After the conversation and hearing the concerns of the parents and presenting the information, I had seemed to connect with them when they simply said “Our son/daughter one day could teach this information or coach the sport they love, but if we put him/her back out there they may never be given that opportunity.”
And that is why we must all understand our roles in this society and life. Sure, my wife could be very upset at the hours I am away from her and the kids, but she chooses to grasp the fact that without people like athletic trainers and their crazy hours, other people could be more hurt than losing me for a couple nights a week.
A recap of our winter season thus far has only two confirmed concussions, a great relief… We do have two other individuals still dealing with post concussion symptoms from previous seasons, and they meet with me weekly… I lose my stellar student athletic trainer this Friday… Not sure if I remember how to do my job… My new high school students are progressing nicely as they are about to complete and be proficient in preventative taping of the ankle, wrist, and fingers… With football winding down concussion awareness will surely wane, we need to be ever vigilant during these times to keep up the awareness…