NATA Cites Value of Athletic Trainers

The association's 2009 survey of companies that kept return on investment data reported a 100 percent positive ROI on having an athletic trainer on site, and more than 90 percent of respondents reported employees' days away from work declined by 25 percent or more.

Stating that on-site care reduces both lost work days and insurance costs for employers and workers, the National Athletic Trainers' Association is stressing the financial benefits to employers who have athletic training programs on site. Employees are at risk of acute and overuse on-the-job injuries, with some occupations requiring heavy lifting, carrying, repetitive movement, and physical stress. "Athletic trainers' expertise in musculoskeletal health makes them a vital part of an occupational health care team, whether working as independent contractors or employed through a company, clinic, hospital, or other facility," said NATA President Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES.

Citing OSHA, the association noted 40 percent of total injuries and illnesses are strains and tears and an additional 29 percent are musculoskeletal disorders. Median lost time for specific disorders include carpel tunnel syndrome (27 days); tendonitis (14 days); musculoskeletal disorders (11 days); sprains, strains and tears (10 days); and soreness or back pain (8 days).

According to NATA, its 2009 survey of companies that kept return on investment data reported a 100 percent positive ROI on having an athletic trainer on site, and more than 90 percent of respondents reported employees' days away from work declined by 25 percent or more and almost half of the companies had emergency room costs reduced by 50 percent or more. More than half reported their costs associated with workplace injuries fell.

NATA provided a few case studies, including one of the Southcoast Health Injury Prevention Program in Dartmouth, Mass., where Ergonomics Manager Joe Scott and a team of 13 athletic trainers conduct internal employee work station ergonomic evaluations, on-site injury care and triage, as well as prevention and wellness programs. "By identifying risk factors and putting controls in place to reduce employee injuries, we can promote and sustain healthy lifestyles. This has a positive impact on our health system and reduces overall job-related injuries and time loss from work," Scott said. "Recognizing the limited time a patient often now spends with a doctor, athletic trainers also serve as physician extenders in the occupational environment to provide patients with the necessary education and tools they need to return to work and physical activity."

For more information, visit http://www.nata.org/athletic-training/job-settings/occupational-health-setting.

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