Then came the second half of season…injuries galore!! That’s when the coaches finally realized that I wasn’t just “watching” practice but I was instead there to get them back out on field healthy and ready to go. As treatments and rehabilitations progressed so did my relationships with the athletes. We began to get to know each other’s backgrounds, the different personalities, where I came from and why it is that I do what I do. Then somewhere along the way that initial barrier and “stranger” persona drifted away and they became MY athletes. I have to say, that is my favorite thing about this profession!
We’ve all heard that there is a psychological aspect to injuries and healing but I was never fully exposed to what that truly meant as an ATS. Because of this newly established level of trust and care that I have created with my athletes, I hear about their concerns, and their pains both on and off the field. Some people may feel the need to separate those conversations from clinical practice; however I am becoming a huge advocate for having the rapport building conversations. I have been able to better identify when my athletes are not emotionally or mentally prepared to return to play and when things outside of sport may be negatively affecting them.
Sometimes providing the best care for your patients means not focusing on the range of motion or sets and repetitions, but instead caring for the patient as a whole. We all have experienced the times of being swamped with treatments, getting athletes out to practice, and catching up on documentation that sometimes we miss that opportunity to really connect with our athletes and better understand what is going on with them beyond their injury in Sportsware. As I continue with my transition to professional practice, this is one aspect of the profession that I hope to grow in to provide better care for my patients as individuals, not just athletes.
Rachael Kirkpatrick, LAT, ATC