If you were like me as an undergrad, then you remember having different preceptors show you how they like to do things in the clinic such as types of treatments, tapings, or bracings. No doubt most of what you learned as a student has stuck with you in your own practice as a now certified athletic trainer. The only problem is how do we know that what we are doing in the clinic is actually the best method of treatment/care?

You could argue that you have gotten great results in the past, and while that is probably true, how do you know that there isn’t something out there that works even better and would give you better results? I had this discussion with myself one day and I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t fall into a routine and not change how I practice for the next 30+ years of my career. I believe being in the medical profession we need to be willing to change with the new developments that come about. We owe that to our athletes and patients to ensure they are getting the absolute best care possible. If you feel like you might be stuck using the same techniques/methods that you were taught in undergrad, it could be time to shake up your routine and reevaluate what you were taught as a student athletic trainer.

New Advances in Equipment and Technology

The technology and equipment that are available now may have not been available yet to the preceptors that taught us in school. Technology and equipment are ever changing and improving. Because of this, we as athletic trainers need to be constantly aware as to what is available to us so we can use the best equipment and technology in our practice for our athletes. We owe them the best quality of care we can provide.

Better Understanding of How the Body Works

Due to the advances in technology, we also now have a better understanding of how the body works and what actually helps it versus what we used to think worked the best. Some of the things we have learned about the body actually show us that some of the treatments we thought were helping were actually a hindrance to the body.

An example would be lace up ankle braces. The original thinking was that the compression and support provided worked like taping, and while that is true, neither the tape or lace up braces are the best option for the ankle. It limits the natural range of motion of the ankle which in turn limits the athlete’s ability to fully perform. Both these options also loosen up within about a half hour (or less) of activity and they lose their support that prevents lateral (inversion and eversion) movements. This is why looking at hinged braces for your athletes is a better option for support of their ankles.

Learn Outside of Your Mentors

A lot of clinical practice has been passed down from mentor to mentee. This doesn’t always mean it’s the best practice; it’s just what we are used to. Our mentors might not have been exposed to better practice. This is not a knock on our mentors – I was blessed with some of the best mentors I could imagine but due to region and resources some mentors might not be aware of what new practices and technologies are out there.

New Advancements May Lead to Better Results

What’s the harm in trying something new if it could potentially have a better result than what you are currently doing? There is only one way to find out if something new out there is worth implementing into your practice and that’s by actually trying it out. If it doesn’t work as well as what you currently do then switch back to original practice or equipment.

Older Methods and TecHniques Are Still Valid

Just because a new technique or piece of equipment comes out and it’s better does not make previous technique or equipment invalid or wrong. Like all types of technology and equipment, it was the best thing and very useful for its time but now it is outdated and new discoveries bring better ways to treat injuries and conditions. I like to think of this as when flip-top, original cell phones were first invented. They were amazing and great at the time but no one today would ever dare to use one now when we have smartphones available to us. It is important to keep this in mind as a reminder that it’s okay to revise our practice and leave what we once did in the past. This is what research is for. It’s done to improve our clinical care so we are able to treat our athletes and patients in the best way possible.

When it comes to shaking up your routine as an athletic trainer, what do you do? Let me know in the comments! 

Post written by guest author Lauren Dybwad, ATC.

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