Athletic training class gives students on-field experience

ZANESVILLE − Shortly after 10:30 on a Monday morning Miranda Ketcham's classroom at West Muskingum looks like doctor's office after a busy weekend. Students are sprawled across desks with taped ankles, others with long strips of tape on their legs, taking the sting out of shin splints. Most of the injuries are not real, although students with aches and pains do stop by from time to time. Instead, students are learning the ins and outs of sports medicine, including hands-on experience taping classmates' joints and limbs.

The course is one way the district tries to prepare students for life after high school, whether they go to college or not, said West Muskingum High School Principal Laura Thompkins. "We meet the kids where they are, figure out what they want to do and how we can get them on that pathway," she said. "So on May 26, the day after graduation, they know what they want to do."

The class offers a broad look at sports medicine. It covers anatomy, learning how to tape, what causes injuries and how to prevent them, or rehabilitate after them. "There is a lot of information about the physics of the body, how it works, how we can prevent injury, or get healthy from injury," she said.

Even for students that don't intend to pursue a career in medicine, the class gives a foundation in injury prevention as well, Ketcham said, helping both athletes and non-athletes alike, and a life skill they can use well beyond their high school years.

"It is useful for life in general," Kecham said, "Everyone is going to get hurt, as we get older, we start to get more injuries, this class gives them a good foundation of what your body is about, and a working knowledge of some very common general injuries."

Senior Landon McWhorter golfs and plays baseball for the West Muskingum High School Tornados. "It is nice to know about the injuries that happen in sports and the treatments for them," he said. McWhorter, who has suffered a few sports-related injuries said "it lets you know what you can and can't do after injuries, and how to recover from it."

His golf teammate Jack Porter is considering a career in sports management. The class will help him better understand sports injuries, and how he can avoid them on the links or the basketball court.

"Having an idea of the pain I am going through or perhaps injuries makes it easier to get back on the field as soon as possible," said Carlee Hankinson, a member of the soccer, swim and track teams. She said anyone interested in a career in medicine should take the course. "This is a great place to start."

Emma Sprankle plays soccer and golfs for the Tornadoes. She wasn't a fan of anything medical before she enrolled in the class, "But I guess I kind of fell in love with it," she said. She is now considering a career in physical therapy.

West Muskingum High School started offering sports medicine classes about six years ago, Ketcham said. Students can take the course for two years. The first year class starts with a foundation of anatomy and then moves into ankle, knee and shoulder injuries. The next class continues with hip, elbow, wrist, hand and facial injuries. Each class has a concussion unit, and students leave the class with CPR and AED certification through the Falls Township Fire Department. The class strives to stay up to date with concussion protocol information, Ketcham said, because it frequently changes.

The class is open to all students, not just athletes. "We have had a good response," Ketcham said. "Everyone is welcome."

Devan Morgan doesn't play any sports, but enjoys the course and the up-close look at high school athletics. She was on the field for a recent football game, helping West Muskingum Athletic Trainer AJ Eppley. Students in the class accompany Eppley during high school athletic events. They help during football games, and often are his eyes and ears during weekly events where he can't be in two places at once. "I use them more than ever," he said, "when it comes to being at different sporting events. There is so much going on and I'm the only athletic trainer, bouncing from event to event." Members of the class are at all home varsity contests during the school year.

Students in the class stayed with an injured volleyball player earlier this year, making sure she was OK and comforting her until Eppley could arrive, he said.

After the students get more experience, they will have the opportunity to tape athletes before games under Eppley's supervision, and with the athlete's permission. "It will give them a glimpse of how hectic and chaotic it can be" before a game Eppley said.

The class could help alleviate a shortage of athletic trainers in rural districts, Eppley said. They are important to keep student athletes safe. "It is imperative to have a trainer on site so kids aren't going back in (to games) when they shouldn't," he said. Trainers provide treatment and treatment plans to help students prevent worsening their injuries. "The demand is there, the supply is limited," Eppley said. "It is going to take a bit of time, but classes like this are going to help," he said.



This article originally appeared on Zanesville Times Recorder: Athletic training class gives students on field experience