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Behind the scenes with Madras High School athletic trainer and Apex Physical Therapy employee Nicole Porter.

STEELE HAUGEN - Madras High School athletic trainer Nicole Porter tends to an injured Dayton football player during a football game Sept. 27.What is an athletic trainer? Madras High School's athletic trainer, Nicole Porter, goes in depth describing the role of an athletic trainer.

As part of its commitment to improve athlete health and safety at all levels of sport, the NFL Foundation launched a grant to increase the number of athletic trainers in high schools.

The grant is in collaboration with Gatorade, the National Athletic Trainers' Association, the Korey Stringer Institute and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society.

The program aims to provide athletic trainers to 150 schools. Four states, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma and Oregon, can apply for a three-year $35,000 grant.

Apex Physical Therapy, in Madras, and the Center Foundation, in Bend, have teamed up with both the Culver and Madras schools to provide onsite athletic trainers to the schools.

Behind the scenes

Porter: An athletic trainer is a healthcare professional that is on the front lines ready to help an athlete that gets injured. As an athletic trainer, I underwent four years of college at Dakota Wesleyan University, which is an accredited Athletic training university.

I was required to have a minimum of 400 hours of hands-on learning working with sports teams. I was also required to pass rigorous board exams to become certified. After being certified, an athletic trainer can become licensed in the state that they wish to work in. After becoming certified and licensed, I was a graduate assistant athletic Trainer for two years while earning a Master of Science in Exercise Science at South Dakota State University.

STEELE HAUGEN - Athletic trainer Nicole Porter helps Madras girls soccer goalie Cheydon Herkshan off the field because of a knee injury.Many athletic trainers become interested in athletic training because of their own experiences as athletes returning from injury in high school or college. As a collegiate athlete in cross-country and track and field, I spent a lot of time in the training room getting better and found the ability to empathize with athlete's injuries now that I am treating them.

Athletic trainers can be found in many different work locations. Not all athletic trainers can work for the NFL. Most athletic trainers are in high schools and colleges while others can be found working in hospitals and clinics as well. Even still, some athletic trainers work with industrial athletes in large industries, like assembly plants, to help prevent injuries.

Some common misconceptions about athletic trainers are that they are the same as personal trainers or strength trainers. Athletic trainers have to go through schooling and get licensed to practice and are usually under the direction of a doctor, while personal trainers are not required to do so.

Athletic trainers jobs are complicated and only part of their job is ever seen by the public. Some parts of the job include rehabilitation, treatment of minor injuries, and on-the-field assessment of injuries. Athletic trainers go through rehabilitation courses in school to be able to help athletes gain strength and return to sport without the added expense of physical therapy. Athletic trainers are also able to make on-the-field assessments and treat minor injuries without the expense of an ER visit. While most think this is just concussions it can also be sprains and strains as well as tendonitis.

Athletic trainers work closely with many health care professionals such as doctors and physical therapists to provide the best care to the athlete while being a common link in the communication with parents, athletes, and coaches. Athletic trainers located in schools also help to communicate with school employees such as nurses and teachers to help with accommodations for athletes with injuries.

STEELE HAUGEN - An injured soccer player gets carted off the field with athletic trainer Nicole Porter evaluating her injury.Some of the best parts of being an athletic trainer is being able to help the athlete get back on the field after an injury and prepare them to be confident about playing. Another is solving the puzzle as to what is wrong with an athlete and how to make them better and stronger for when they return.

Athletic training is long hours and while you may only see the athletic trainer running on the field when there is an injury remember there is a lot going on behind the scenes to help keep all athletes safe on and off the field.

Athletic trainer: An athletic trainer is a certified and licensed health care professional who practices in the field of sports medicine

Physical therapist: Physical therapists (PTs) are movement experts who optimize quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education. Physical therapists teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits.

Personal trainer- A personal trainer is an individual certified to have a varying degree of knowledge of general fitness involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients.

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