Jan 29, 2015
Industrial Sector Growing

One option for athletic trainers that seems to be growing at an exponential rate is working in the industrial sector. This could include working in an athletic training room at a large manufacturing company, or in the case of Mary Kirkland, MS, LAT, ATC, at the Kennedy Space Center.

As you may have figured out, Kirkland has a pretty cool job. She’s the head of the Kennedy Space Center’s on-site athletic training facility, called KSC RehabWorks. Demonstrating the growing field of industrial or occupational setting athletic training, she spoke at a presentation called It’s Not Rocket Science … Establishing a NASA Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic.

Kirkland arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in 1989 as an exercise specialist. But after employees realized she had her ATC credential, they started asking her about various nagging injuries and how to fix them. She realized that the need for an on-site rehabilitation facility was great. After speaking to her mentor and boss about her idea, she designed RehabWorks. Her plan was approved and officially implemented in 1997.

Since then, KSC RehabWorks has regularly expanded in facility size and number of staff members. Kirkland credits her meticulous documentation and record keeping for the growth. Without having solid data that showed how many Kennedy Space Center employees she was treating–and what types of injuries they were sustaining–approval for expansion and the purchasing of new equipment wouldn’t continue to come through.

Kirkland was even able to document that KSC RehabWorks saved NASA over $1 million last year when compared to off-site rehabilitation visits for employees. Not to mention the convenience factor. It takes employees about 20 minutes to even get off base at Cape Canaveral, then there’s the two-hour drive to the closest rehab facility.

For athletic trainers working in the industrial setting, or for those who are thinking about it, Kirkland noted that the hours are one of the best perks. Her job is a nine-to-five, five days a week obligation. She gets weekends off, as well as holidays. Not many athletic trainers can claim the same luxury.

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