EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 22, 2009

Athletic trainers — the unsung heroes of the sporting world


Athletic trainers show up at the field to help athletes deal with injuries long before the game starts and often stay after the final points have been scored.

But Jenn Hogg of Northeast Rehabilitation in Salem said she enjoys working with athletes because of their motivation. Hogg, a 19-year veteran in her field, said injured athletes are usually extremely motivated to return to the field. Northeast Rehabilitation works with athletes from nine high schools and colleges in Southern New Hampshire and the Merrimack Valley.

March is National Athletic Training Month, and Hogg calls athletic trainers the unsung heroes of the sporting world.

— Eric Parry

What does an athletic trainer do and how does that differ from a personal trainer?

Athletic trainers practice under the director of a physician and help with injuries. Personal trainers assess a person's fitness needs and help people reach those fitness goals. We're there if someone drops on the field, but we're also there to nurse athletes back to health.

What athletes have the most injuries?

Obviously, we see a higher percentage of injuries in higher-risk sports like football and lacrosse but injuries are inevitable in every sport.

How has athletic training changed?

We have a lot more awareness of injuries such as concussions. People understand what they are and they aren't going by unassessed. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. People understand that it's not OK to tough out a concussion anymore.

I'm sure that some of the equipment today has helped make your job easier.

It's been nice to get more protective equipment and that's helped reduce some of the severe injuries. When I learned to ski, skiers didn't wear helmets but now you'd be hard pressed to find a kid without a helmet. The same thing is true for people riding bikes.

It seems athletic trainers are a lot more visible today than they used to be.

We have a lot of high school kids who are looking to go into athletic training. One of the things that has changed is that the female side has grown tremendously. It used to be a mostly male dominated profession but now it's almost swung the other way.