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Keeping young athletes in the game


National Athletic Training month—held each March—was created to spread awareness about the care athletic trainers provide to athletes every day in our communities. Even though they are often seen on the sidelines, the role they play in keeping athletes in the game is important work.

Currently, only about 40% of high schools throughout the United States have access to full-time athletic training services. Athletic trainers are vital in the secondary schools when it comes to prevention of athletic injuries, providing important emergency care, and education of the athletic community. They are also at the forefront of concussion recognition and management, collaborating with local physicians and providers in regard to a treatment plan and Return-to-Play protocols.

“The interactions I have each day with the athletes, coaches, and parents is always uplifting as well as seeing a patient return back from injury and play in their first game,” explains JP Stowe, program manager, and certified athletic trainer at Northern Light Sports Health.

JP says that athletic trainers are usually the first healthcare provider to evaluate an injury or medical condition within a school. “The unique part of my profession allows me to evaluate an athlete right after an injury happens, work with them during treatment and rehab to get them stronger and healthier, and then oversee their safe return to sports.” He adds that he and his team works closely with the athlete, parents, and coaches to develop a treatment plan and oversee their care and subsequent return to play from injury. When necessary, they collaborate and communicate with the patient’s provider of choice to have an injury or condition evaluated further.

“We’re critical in the development of injury prevention programs such as dynamic warmups, pre-season strength and conditioning, and jump mechanics training,” JP points out. “We provide medical services to all types of patients, not just athletes participating in sports, and can work in a variety of job settings.”

Northern Light Sports Health’s partnership with area schools has grown since it was established in 2014. They now provide athletic training services at schools in Bangor, Belfast, Corinth, Dexter, Hampden, Old Town, Orono, and Winterport, and offer weekly clinics at Bangor Christian School. Under the direction of two sports medicine physicians, Northern Light Sports Health eight athletic trainers routinely evaluate, treat, and follow-up with student athletes after school each day as well as provide medical coverage for most home games.

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