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Published on March 04, 2019

UHS Athletic Training – From Injury to Recovery 

They’re on the sidelines of high school, college and professional games, often serving as the first-line care provider after an injury. They’re in schools and medical offices, providing rehabilitative care, and supporting athletes as they return to practice and play. They’re athletic trainers, and they make a difference for athletes everywhere.

Whitney Point High School senior Elayna Ellerson has first-hand experience with the value of athletic trainers. As a freshman, she tore her left ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) during a field hockey summer league game. In 2017, she tore her right ACL during field hockey regionals.

Both injuries required surgery and rehab, and Ellerson received it all at UHS. After her most recent experience, she spent six months in physical therapy at UHS’ Vestal location, coming in two or three times a week. As she tapered off in-office physical therapy, Ellerson transitioned to supplemental physical therapy and aquatherapy on site at her high school with UHS athletic trainer Haven Donovan – who was also first on the field to evaluate Ellerson after her injury, literally there from the start.

Said Ellerson, “Having therapy available at school made things so much easier – I was able to transition from doing therapy activities to doing similar activities at practice. The most valuable part of the care I received was having Haven on site at school – she was always just one call away if I was worried about something. If I tweaked my knee during practice, I could go see her. Having her there was so reassuring.”

As Ellerson moved through her rehabilitation, she worked with clinicians from UHS’ physical therapy, athletic training and sports performance departments. She described the difference staff made for her by saying “they made me feel like family. They were always nice -- even if I was having a bad day, they were there to support me to do my best.”

Athletic trainers are licensed clinical care providers in the state of New York, offering evaluation and management of orthopedic injuries, illness and concussions. As Ellerson experienced with Haven Donovan, athletic trainers in the field are often an athlete’s first point of contact from a medical standpoint, assessing injuries and triaging for appropriate care. That can mean an immediate referral to emergency department for a fracture, to orthopedics for a specialist evaluation, or to physical therapy for a chronic issue. In some instances, athletic trainers are able to manage minor orthopedic injuries such as sprains and strains in-house within contracted school districts or sports venues, which can be a huge time and cost savings for many families.

Said UHS Sports Medicine Field Manager/Lead Athletic Trainer Jay Hubbard, "Communication is key to developing relationships with these athletes and families with the goal of being an advocate for the athletes' safety, health and wellness. Our UHS Athletic Training staff is an integral part of the UHS Sports Medicine Team, guiding these athletes every step of the way after an injury, through recovery, and back to sport."

Athletic trainers must hold a bachelor’s degree in athletic training or an equivalent major program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education; more than 70 percent of athletic trainers also hold a master’s degree. A medically-based education model provides athletic trainers with a comprehensive experience that includes clinical practice. Athletic trainers learn evaluation, diagnosis, immediate and emergency care, treatment and rehabilitation, and then earn national certification by successfully completing an exam. (Visit nata.org to learn more about the athletic training profession.)

Every March, UHS and health systems across the country recognize their dedicated athletic training staff during National Athletic Training Month. This year’s theme -- Athletic Trainers are Health Care – is especially representative of how UHS athletic trainers are an integral part of the entire continuum of diagnosis, treatment and getting athletes safely back to the field.

UHS’ sports medicine team includes a full range of professionals – athletic trainers, primary care sports medicine physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, and operating room staff – all working closely together and capable of managing complex injuries and conditions. To learn more about how sports medicine and athletic training could benefit you, visit www.nyuhs.org/care-treatment/orthopedic-services/sports-medicine/

UHS is a locally owned, not-for-profit hospital and healthcare system serving Greater Binghamton and surrounding counties. Founded in 1981, UHS provides a full range of medical, surgical, rehabilitative and long-term care services throughout New York’s Southern Tier.

Follow the latest UHS news and more at nyuhs.org and on Facebook (facebook.com/uhshospitals) and Twitter (twitter.com/uhsinc).