Athletic trainers work at schools under physicians, and they provide immediate care for injured student-athletes. They also manage rehabilitation and healing after an injury. We had the opportunity to get to know some of our first-class athletic trainers, Zack Keen and Ronald R. Steinwehr Jr., who talked to us about our school partnership in Palm Coast and the highlights of being athletic trainers. Here’s what they had to say.
Zack Keen Q&A
- What is the most rewarding thing about being an athletic trainer?
Zack: The most rewarding thing is the relationships I build with these young athletes as they progress throughout high school. Every year, I've had multiple former students come by just to say, "hey," and catch up. It’s always rewarding to hear about their lives and how far they've come since high school.
- How do you motivate student-athletes after a minor injury?
Zack: After a minor injury, the best piece of advice I can give my athletes is to not get discouraged. I reassure them that they’re not alone as they work to get back to the field or the court, and that I’ll be there for them along the way.
- How can parents partner with you to ensure their child successfully recovers from a minor injury?
Zack: We are currently using Healthy Roster, a digital injury and treatment tracking system. It gives parents access to their child's injury and return process. It’s imperative that the parent(s) create an account on Healthy Roster for that reason.
- Do you have a motto that inspires you?
Zack: "Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody." Especially in my position, I’ve had several encounters with young people where I might have been the only person in their life that they feel truly cares about them.
Whatever might be going on in my personal life, I always try to keep my perspective that not every athlete is the same. Some athletes need someone to just sit there and listen to their problems about their day or the struggles they’re currently having, whether it’s about athletics, their injury or just life in general. It’s important to see every student-athlete as a whole person.
Ron Steinwehr Q&A
- What is your role at AdventHealth?
Ron: I’m a certified and licensed athletic trainer with more than 20 years of experience. I am in the Community Health Department with AdventHealth Palm Coast. I say that I’m 100% employed by AdventHealth, but I mainly work as an outreach athletic trainer at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
AdventHealth and the School District of Flagler County are in partnership to provide varying medical services for the students/athletes. I’m one of two athletic trainers employed this way with AdventHealth Palm Coast.
- What are the job responsibilities of an athletic trainer?
Ron: On a typical day, my job responsibilities include:
- Applying protective or injury-preventive devices, such as tape, bandages and braces
- Recognizing and evaluating injuries
- Providing first aid or emergency care
- Developing and carrying out rehabilitation programs for injured athletes
- Planning and implementing comprehensive programs to prevent injury and illness among athletes
- Performing administrative tasks, such as keeping records and writing reports on injuries and treatment programs
No day is the same. Some days there may be many athletes I need to care for, depending on the types of events happening and how many.
- How do you motivate student-athletes who are in recovery from an injury?
Ron: Sometimes, athletic trainers act as counselors. We try to learn what’s going on inside an athlete’s mind and how we can use techniques and methods to deal with the mental aspects of injury. I always want an athlete to stay “connected” to their team even if they cannot fully participate.
I also like to work with the athlete/coach and parent/guardian on setting goals for their return. A simple goal could be “by the end of next week, I want to be able to walk without the use of crutches as I recover from my ankle injury.”
- What should parents know about keeping their child safe after a minor injury?
Parents and guardians are my partners. I always look to reach out to a parent/guardian when their child is injured. Sometimes a simple call or text can be a doorway to the relationship I’m trying to establish.
From my experience, if we take the time to fully evaluate an injury and give it the rest it effectively needs, most sport-related injuries heal on their own. I also tell athletes, if we just follow some simple guidelines, like Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) after an ankle injury, most likely we’ll have a favorable outcome.
- What is most rewarding about your job?
Rewards come in all shapes and sizes. One of the greatest rewards I can receive is seeing a student-athlete who was hurt or injured playing their sport again. Seeing them smile as they play and enjoy the competition and know that I played a part in helping that athlete return back to their sport is the best reward. Sometimes a simple “thank you,” “I appreciate you,” or a fist-bump says it all.
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