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Study: Athletic Trainer Availability Key to Athlete Care

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A new study shows significant benefits for prep student-athletes who have athletic trainers on staff at their high schools.

According to research from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health reported on by the local CBS affiliate in Madison, Wisc., athletic trainer availability in high schools can be critical to managing injuries such as concussions.

Tim McGuine, principal investigator on the study, said most schools across Wisconsin have athletic trainers, but there’s a disparity when it comes to their availability. The licensed professionals can spend anywhere from one hour to more than 40 hours a week at schools.

According to the research, athletes at low-availability schools waited, on average, a day before they could be seen for a sports-related concussion. That’s compared to about an hour for athletes at mid- and high-availability schools.

The study also found that about half of athletes at low-availability schools complete proper “return to sport” protocol, as compared to 90 percent at mid- and high-availability schools.

"Every school administrator we talk to in our study or when we do surveys around the state, they will admit that having athletic trainers available is ideal, and they would like to have more, but they're pushed by their athletic budgets, what they can do,” McGuine said, adding that parents need to get involved and ask their schools questions about their available athletic trainers.

McGuine also said athletic trainers can save families money by determining whether a visit to the emergency room or a doctor’s office is necessary.

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