Solving a Challenge in the Training Room

February 21, 2019

by Larry Cooper, MS, LAT, ATC

All of us athletic trainers have some area where we want to improve. It might be because our confidence is low, we haven’t been exposed to too many of those injuries, or curiosity got the best of you.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about an injury that stumped me and how we went back and looked at match tapes, reviewed technique, conditioning, pre-match routine diet and anything else that we could think of. I spoke with other ATs, MDs, PTs, anyone that I thought could help me become a better clinician. As I stated previously, my goal was to improve my clinical skills so that the same scenario would not present itself again in the future.

But there was more. I also wanted to elevate treatment regimens and rehabilitation protocols along with my confidence in shoulder anatomy, pathology and kinesiology. I did not want to be fooled/stumped by another shoulder injury again. It became personal to me—I felt bad that my lack of recognition of this previous injury prevented the wrestler from competing for a few weeks.

This is where networking is central and needs to be encouraged. Different viewpoints are important for all involved in the discussions. This is where the informal consultations can bear more fruit than a formal educational course or class. YouTube videos can wet the appetite a little, but nothing can take the place of an Orthopedic surgeon who is passionate about shoulders and deals with these injuries on a regular basis.

Then comes time to practice your new skills. At games and practices or in the athletic AT facility, make sure you practice those skills early and often. Grab athletes from different sports and different ages and hone your skills. We all know that the saying, if you don’t use it you lose it, applies here as well.

Larry Cooper, MS, LAT, ATC, recently retired after 27 years as Head Athletic Trainer at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pa., where he also taught health, physical education, and sports medicine classes. Since 2012, he has served as Chair of the NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee. Winner of a 2016 NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, 2015 T&C Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award, and 2014 NATA Athletic Training Service Award, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society Hall of Fame in 2014. Cooper can be reached at:

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