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Guest Post by:

Lindsey Clarke, MS, ATC, CMT
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Sports Medicine

I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings “no rest for the weary” or “Jack of all trades”.  I’m willing to bet someone was referring to an Athletic Trainer when they said that.  Attempting to describe a day in the life of a Certified Athletic Trainer would be like an astronaut describing what it’s like being in space…you just don’t know until you’ve done it for yourself! Okay, so that may be a bit dramatic, but the demands of this position are very unique, and unlike most jobs out there.  Certified Athletic Trainers(ATCs) are highly qualified health professionals who are trained in preventing, recognizing, managing and rehabilitating injuries that result from physical activity and sports.  They are part of a team of sports medicine specialists, that if when injured, help get you back on your feet and back in action as soon as possible…all while pulling some pretty unorthodox hours.

While they’ve been behind the scenes and on the sidelines long before, the American Medical Association has recognized athletic training as an allied health care profession since 1990.  As an important part of a comprehensive healthcare team, the certified athletic trainer works under the direction of a physician and in cooperation with other healthcare professionals, athletics administrators, coaches and parents.  ATCs work in a variety of different professional settings, including:

Professional and collegiate sports                       Sports medicine clinics
Secondary and intermediate schools                   Occupational settings
Performing arts                                                          Law enforcement and military
Hospital emergency rooms and rehab clinics        Physician offices

If an athletic trainer works with a sports team, their hours will ebb and flow with the offseason, preseason, and regular season. Trainers working in hospitals and clinics may have a more regular schedule and often conduct outreach work at various locations.  While there are various settings, the basic duties are common across the board.

Prevention of Injury  Injury prevention is one of the most important roles an ATC has in dealing with any athlete. While managing injuries once they’ve happened is our bread and butter, pre-participation screenings, development of strengthening programs, education of sport specific equipment, and hydration and nutrition counseling are just a few examples of ways to help avoid injury.

Recognition, Evaluation, and Assessment  Athletic trainers must possess the skill to recognize, evaluate, and assess athletic injuries in order to care for them properly, and apply those skills to the field.

Immediate Care  In the event of an injury, it is imperative that the athlete can be cared for immediately and appropriately. It is crucial that in emergency situations, athletic trainers act without hesitation in responding with knowledge and control.

Treatment, Rehabilitation, and Reconditioning  Providing daily treatment helps manage any niggling aches, pains, or minor injuries. Rehabilitation helps minimize injury time and allows the injury to fully heal. Reconditioning, or sports-specific training, is very important to regain the optimal physical condition of the athlete and helps minimize chances of re-injury upon return to play.

Organization and Administration  There is much more to being an athletic trainer than simply caring for athletes.  It is important for the athletic trainer to be prepared for any situation.  This includes developing emergency action plans, policies and procedures for safe participation, facility operations, and maintaining compliance with all safety and sanitation standards.  In addition to all this, accurate athlete/patient files and injury reports must be kept up to date, and regular communication with coaches and physicians made on a daily basis.  ATCs often handle insurance as well as being responsible for staying on top of budgetary issues when making supply orders.  In smaller organizations, planning travel and accommodations can fall to the athletic trainer as well.

Professional Development and Responsibility As in every other profession, athletic trainers hold the responsibility of playing a part in the professional development for the athletic trainers while obeying and adhering to all laws and guidelines that impact the athletic training profession.  This includes doing the necessary work to maintain certification and licensure, and helping advance the athletic training profession. According to the Department of Labor, 46 states require trainers to be licensed or registered.  It is important for athletic trainers, now more than ever, to education the public on the importance of athletic trainers and our profession.

 Dependent on the setting, certain responsibilities and hours may vary, but the one common denominator is that an athletic trainer's day may change from day to day and even hour to hour. Flexibility (to both schedule and personalities), empathy, patience, creativity, strong decision-making skills, and being even-tempered are all qualities that not only a good, but effective athletic trainer make. Most importantly, you must be a good listener.  Possessing the ability to react to a situation all while maintaining a strong controlled attitude is only half the battle…you must be able to connect with your athlete and gain their trust.  Athletic trainers are hard-working and passionate in caring for and helping their athletes.  They’re usually the first to arrive and the last to leave all just to be repeated the next day.  Sometimes working upwards of 60+ hours a week, athletic trainers make tough decisions in high-pressure situations on a daily basis.  Our athletes’ lives are quite literally in our hands…caring not only physically, but emotionally for them can be quite stressful.  So, the next time you see your trainer eating their yoghurt with a tongue depressor because they forgot their spoon, reading through their home-study continuing education course all while filling one of many water coolers over their lunch break, just give a little thanks for these un-sung heroes that keep these bodies in motion moving.

You want to pass on certain things like family traditions, a grandmother’s quilt or dad’s love of books – but no one wants to pass on a serious illness. Take charge of your health and help protect those around you by asking about vaccines at your next doctor’s visit.

Vaccinating our children is commonplace in the United States. But few adults know they need vaccines, and even fewer are fully vaccinated.

In 2013, only 24 percent of adults ages 60 and older had received a shingles vaccine and only 17 percent of adults older than 19 had received a Tdap vaccine.

Are you one of the millions of adults not aware of the vaccines you need?

Each year, tens of thousands of adults needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die as a result of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. However, a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey showed that most U.S. adults are not even aware that they need vaccines throughout their lives to protect against diseases like pertussis, hepatitis, shingles and pneumococcal disease.

Not only can vaccine-preventable diseases make you very sick, but if you get sick, you may risk spreading certain diseases to others. That’s a risk most of us do not want to take. Infants, older adults and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have severe illness and complications if they do get sick. You can help protect your health and the health of your loved ones by getting your recommended vaccines.

The good news is that getting vaccinated is easier than you think. Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, health clinics and health departments. Visit to help find a vaccine provider near you. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines – a call to your insurance provider can give you the details.

What vaccines do you need?

All adults should get:

* Annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu

* Td/Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis

Some additional vaccines you may need (depending on your age, health conditions and other factors) include:

* Hepatitis A

* Hepatitis B

* Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

* Meningococcal

* Pneumococcal

* Shingles

Traveling overseas? There may be additional vaccines you need depending on the location. Find out at

Not sure what vaccines you may need? The CDC offers a short quiz at to help you find out which vaccines you might need. You can take the results of your quiz to your provider to discuss which vaccines are right for you.

All adults should get an annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu and Td/Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. You may also need other vaccines based on your age, health conditions, occupation and other factors. If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S., check on any additional vaccines you may need. Some travel-related vaccines are part of a series or are needed months prior to your travel to be most effective, so be sure to plan ahead.

For more information about adult vaccines:

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder

that we all need vaccines throughout our lives.


From the moment you found out you were pregnant, you started protecting your baby. You might have changed the way you eat, started taking a prenatal vitamin, and researching the kind of car seat you’ll buy. But did you know that one of the best ways to start protecting your children against serious diseases is by making sure you get the whooping cough (Tdap) and flu vaccines while you are pregnant?

The vaccines you get during your pregnancy will provide your baby with some disease protection (immunity) that will last the first months of life. By getting vaccinated during your pregnancy, your baby may benefit from passive antibody transfer that will help protect against diseases. This early protection is critical for diseases like the flu and whooping cough because infants in the first several months of life are at the greatest risk of severe illness from these diseases. However, they are too young to be vaccinated themselves. Passing maternal antibodies on to them is the only way to help directly protect them.

Passing the protection to your newborn isn’t the only reason you should get vaccinated. Whooping cough and flu vaccines are also important for you. In cases when doctors are able to determine who spread whooping cough to an infant, the mother was often the source. Once you have protection by getting the Tdap vaccine, you are less likely to give whooping cough to your newborn while caring for him.

When it comes to flu, even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to have a severe case of the flu if you catch it. If you catch the flu when you are pregnant, you have a higher chance of experiencing pregnancy complications, such as premature labor and delivery. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your baby while you are pregnant.

You can also rest assured that these vaccines are very safe for you and your baby. Millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years, and the CDC continues to gather data showing that the flu shot is safe and effective during pregnancy.

The whooping cough vaccine is also very safe for you and your unborn baby. Doctors and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that the whooping cough vaccine is important to get during the third trimester of each pregnancy. Getting the vaccine during your pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications.

You can get the whooping cough and flu vaccine at the same time during your pregnancy. You can also get them at different visits. If you are pregnant during flu season, you should get the flu vaccine as early as possible. You should get your whooping cough vaccine between your 27th and 36th week of pregnancy, but you can get a flu shot during any trimester.

If you want to learn more about pregnancy and vaccines, talk to your ob-gyn or midwife and visit

Enjoy lunch at Halo on Tuesday, August 25th, and 10% of your bill will be donated to the MUSC Health Transplant Center. Just print this flyer and present to the cashier when ordering.

Date: Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Time: 11:00am-2:00pm
Location: Halo, 170 Ashley Avenue (across from the MUSC Horseshoe)

You must present this flyer in order for the 10% donation to be made. All proceeds will benefit the MUSC Health Transplant Center’s annual educational fair/picnic for our organ donors and transplant recipients. No flyers will be accepted at Halo after 2:00pm on 8/25/15.

Guest Post by:

Alec DeCastro, MD
Assistant Professor, MUSC Department of Family Medicine
Chief, Primary Care Sports Medicine

The summer is in full swing here in the Lowcountry!  July and August are on average the hottest months out of the year, and this is also the time of year that football players return to summer camp and conditioning.  As the temperatures continue to rise, it is important for all athletes to recognize the symptoms of heat illness while exercising in the summer sun. Even if you’re not planning on playing football or running outside, athletes must be smart before embarking on a summer workout. 

Heat illness is a spectrum that ranges from heat cramps, heat exhaustion, to heat stroke.  These conditions can occur suddenly due the risks of exercising in the heat.  Signs and symptoms can sometimes be mild, but it is important to recognize them early in order to prevent injury.  These include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid pulse
  • Nausea
  • Pale skin

Certain risk factors can predispose you for sustaining a heat illness or injury.  Medical Conditions such as: heart disease, lung illnesses, kidney problems, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnancy.  Exercise may improve these conditions, but always take the heat in account and consult your doctor or a sports medicine physician for specific advice.  Medications such as diuretics (water pills) or antihistamines may be dehydrating and should be avoided if it is too hot outside.   Infants up to the age of 4 or older adults > 65 should also use caution.

Heat illness may be easily prevented by some common sense precautions.  It is important to drink plenty of water prior to and during exercise in the heat.  Always limit caffeine and alcohol intake.  Also, dress cool with loose clothes that allow sweat to evaporate easily.  Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

Another way to prevent heat illness is to be aware of the weather conditions.  A heat index is a better indicator than just the temperature alone.  At about a 60% humidity, our sweat stops evaporating and therefore our body doesn’t cool as easily.   A more accurate measure of humidity may be obtained by a Wet Bulb Globe thermometer (WBGT).  A simple chart for WBGT, which is used by the military, can guide sports teams on how to run summer practices and conditioning drills in this extreme heat.

Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer

If you or someone sustains a heat illness, get them out of the heat right away and bring them to an air conditioned building or the shade.  Let them rest and elevate their legs and feet.  Let them drink cool water

Another serious condition that may develop in the heat is called Rhabdomyolysis (Rhabdo).  Exertional rhabdo happens when there is damage to muscle caused by excessive unaccustomed exercise, especially in the extreme heat.  When muscle tissue works so hard, the fibers break down, causing an enzyme called CK to be released into the bloodstream.  In these cases, a lot of stress is placed on the kidney leading to kidney damage or even kidney failure.  The risk of rhabdo is markedly increased while exercising in hot, humid environments.  This condition is more common in football, and especially high intensity workouts such as cross-fit.  For example, in 2011, thirteen University of Iowa football players were hospitalized with rhabdo after a very intense workout.  Symptoms of rhabdo may be extreme muscle pain and soreness, or dark urine (brown, cola-colored).  In order to prevent rhabdo, athletes must hydrate before, during, and after workouts.  Make sure you don’t push yourself too hard until you get hurt.  If you have any of the symptoms, see a sports medicine doctor right away.

The most serious form of all the illnesses is heat stroke.  This a true medical emergency and happens when the body temperature reaches at least 104F.  Signs of heat stroke are:

  • Confusion
  • Lack of sweating (red, hot, dry skin)
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness

Heat stroke can damage the brain and other internal organs, so attempt to them cool right away with ice packs and call 911!  You may save a life!

With this in mind, exercise, get healthy, and enjoy the outdoors.  Please contact us at MUSC Sports Medicine for specific advice about you and exercising.

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