As you may or may not know, March is National Athletic Training Month. I wanted to ask for your help in promoting the important role athletic trainers play in keeping athletes of all levels, youth through professional, safe and in healthy condition to compete in their sports. This year’s theme is “Athletic Trainers Save Lives.” Athletic trainers respond to, and manage, various medical and traumatic conditions including, but not limited to, an allergic reaction to a bee sting to cervical spine injuries and the fan in the stands suffering from a heart attack. The recent hot topic in contact sports, especially football, is concussions. While many people dismiss concussions as “getting your bell rung,” if not recognized and managed properly, concussions can be deadly. The condition known as Second Impact Syndrome is when an athlete sustains a secondary traumatic brain injury before the first injury is fully healed. This causes an uncontrolled swelling in the brain, which can cause permanent brain damage or death. As you know the NFL has recently enacted a new rule that does not allow players to return to play the same day they sustain a concussion. This is a rule that most secondary schools and colleges have been following for some time. One of the leading researchers and proponents of concussion management is Kevin Guskiewicz, a certified athletic trainer at UNC and 2011 MacArthur Fellow.  He developed concussion evaluation tests that are widely used by athletic trainers and has played an important role in identifying and raising awareness of the long-term effects of multiple concussions later in life. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a condition that is brought on by sustaining repeated blows to the head over an extended period of time. This condition involves symptoms such as cognitive impairment, depression  and dementia. Many professional athletes who have donated their brains to scientific research, including Lou Creekmur, Dave Duerson, Reg Fleming, Rick Martin and Chris Benoit had the Tau-protein build-up evident of CTE. While concussions are not preventable in contact sports, it is important that they are recognized and proper protocol is followed to avoid further injury or complications. Some other cases of athletic trainers recognizing life-threatening situations also merit mention. A local high school volleyball player went to her primary care physician with knee pain and was told it was just “growing pains”. She later went to the athletic trainer at her school and after performing palpations and tests, the athletic trainer referred the athlete to get a second opinion from an orthopedist. The MRI showed the young girl had a tumor. Luckily it was benign but if it had been malignant, and if not for the athletic trainer’s knowledge, and recognition of suspicious symptoms, this situation could have been deadly. Another student athlete a different high school came to the athletic trainer complaining of a groin pain. The athletic trainer noticed severe swelling of the girl’s upper thigh, and because the location she referred to contained her femoral artery and nerve, the athletic trainer told her she needed to go to the emergency room immediately. The girl had a blood clot in her femoral artery, which, if left untreated, could have resulted in a deadly pulmonary embolism. I hope that this letter will give your readers a new appreciation and recognition of the importance of athletic trainers and that they will remember these examples of how athletic trainers save lives. Thank you.



Tom Milosavich


Athletic Training