Out of all the parts of a sports team - the players, the coaching staff and the fans - one member remains behind the scenes.
They're athletic trainers, and at Florida Hospital they take pride when their players thrive.
"Some of the best feelings I've ever had in my job come from seeing an athlete get back out there doing what they love after an injury," says Jennifer R. Scallin Perez, MS, LAT, ATC, sports medicine manager at Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.
She'll pull the curtain aside to share four ways athletic trainers support their teams.
- They keep players in the game.
Athletic trainers are known for helping athletes recover, but they would prefer to prepare athletes so that injury doesn't happen in the first place.
Nutrition, strength and flexibility are elements of health for all athletes, though fitting these pieces together for an individual, demands a tailored approach.
"It's about knowing each person's strengths and weaknesses to create an individualized program," Scallin Perez says.
- When the worst happens, they're there.
Of course, an injury can happen to even the most well-prepared athlete, and when misfortune strikes, athletic trainers are often the first to a player's side.
"There is a rehab protocol based on the injury, but that's only part of the story," she says. As rehabilitation slowly proceeds on the injured area, conditioning continues elsewhere in the body.
"Keeping the athlete active and fit reduces their time loss," or the time an athlete must spend getting back into peak performance.
- They're a voice for the players.
Players are under intense pressure to perform, day in and day out.
"Athletes today are bigger, stronger and faster than they've ever been," Scallin Perez says.
When an athlete's health and wellness are at stake, an athletic trainer can be their advocate. Athletic trainers tap the strong relationships they've formed, including with coaches.
"The coach will want that athlete back, but sometimes they need to know they're not ready," says Scallin Perez. In turn, coaches have to be able to trust the athletic trainer will push the athlete to be ready.
- They're the team's Swiss Army knife.
Athletic trainers need to know a lot about a lot. They're knowledgeable about anatomy, nutrition, mental health, rehabilitation, clinical diagnosis and exercise physiology.
It's a lot to take in, and most athletic trainers, including Scallin Perez, have a master's degree.
But they don't go it alone: They know when to rely on their team.
"You're trying to work collaboratively for the betterment of that athlete," Scallin Perez says.
Florida Hospital's athletic trainers work with the athletes at many of our sports partners throughout Central Florida, including UCF, the Orlando Solar Bears, the Lakeland Magic and more. From working with high school athletes to all the runners at Track Shack and runDisney races, our athletic trainers care for the health and fitness needs of our community.
Florida Hospital offers sports medicine services at 18 Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation locations throughout Central Florida. Our team can help keep you in the game and, if you're hurt, get you back to doing what you love.
To make an appointment, call (407) 303-8080 or reserve a time online at our website.