After a player sustains an injury, there comes a complex process focused on getting the athlete back into the game.
Unlike some schools, Keene State College offers their athletes the opportunity to have an athletic trainer present at their practices and home games. The college has four certified athletic trainers that work for the school as well as students studying in the athletic training program to help the injured athletes.
“We have four full-time athletic trainers and we have a good relationship with Cheshire Medical, with the orthopedic surgeons,” John Ratliff, the director of athletics at KSC, said.
Jesse Lacroix, a sophomore on the KSC men’s basketball team, is out for the upcoming season. According to Lacroix, he tore his labrum in his hip and had surgery.
“Watching them play is tough. I still go to everything though,” Lacroix said.
In order to get himself healthy and back on the court, Lacroix must finish his rehabilitation process.
Lacroix said this process includes a warm-up on the stationary bike to exercise his hip, strength training for his legs and ice baths.
“There’s so many other people there to help you. The athletic trainers work specifically to help you get healthy,” Lacroix said.
In high school, Lacroix said he only had the help of his coaches when injuries occurred. Now, he is able to have athletic trainers present at most of his practices and home games in case of injuries.
One of Lacroix’s teammates, freshman Nick Fragola, has been out of practice due to two stress fractures he sustained on his left shin. According to Fragola, overworking in practice caused the stress fractures.
“I should be back after Christmas break,” Fragola said. Fragola also said his rehabilitation process includes “working with the trainers, massage therapy and icing everyday.”
When he originally felt the pain in his knee, Fragola told the trainers what was wrong, and after examining him they sent him to the hospital for x-rays.
“They were a really good help with the process,” Fragola said.
Catherine Falcone, a KSC senior on the women’s soccer team, described the athletic trainers as “extremely helpful” whenever she has been injured. Falcone has had several surgeries on her knee after tearing her ACL multiple times.
According to Falcone, the rehab process for her injuries on average are six to eight months.
“The hardest part is the first two weeks when you’re bed-ridden. You lose all nerve reception to your leg. It’s impossible to move,” Falcone said.
Falcone is also an athletic training major at KSC, and she said she gets to work with injured players as well. She said the athletes have a lot of control with the injury process beyond the time span for returning what is given to them.
Robert Merrow, the clinical associate professor and head athletic trainer at KSC agreed. Merrow said the athletes have a “strong input” with the injury process.
Jordan Desrochers, an athletic training major at KSC, said it is harder to diagnose an athlete’s injury when they are not present.
“If you don’t see [the injury], it is harder to figure out what it is,” Desrochers said.
According to Desrochers, freshman year the athletic trainers are not allowed to touch any players.
“We filled up cups of water and walked around,” Desrochers said. By junior year, the athletic training majors are at most home games and practices.
“There was one certified athletic trainer and students. We evaluate the whole thing by ourselves,” Desrochers said.
According to Merrow, the process of injury evaluation begins with the basics.
If the injury occurs on the field, they check to make sure the athlete is responsive, breathing or bleeding. If the injury is not too serious, Merrow said the next step is to put the pieces together asking who, what, where, when and how.
“If it’s bones or muscle the steps are complicated,” Merrow explained, the next step is to listen to the athlete and do orthopedic tests.
Depending on the severity of the injury, the athletic trainers decide if the injury can be treated in-house or if it needs more serious medical attention.
According to Ratliff, men’s and women’s basketball seem to have the most injuries out of any of the sports offered at KSC because of the constant contact of the sport.
But, at least they know they will be in trained hands.
Shannon Flynn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org