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Athletic trainer helps reduce and treat injuries

Staff reporter

Published: Sunday, April 3, 2011

Updated: Sunday, April 3, 2011 23:04

sports

Photo by Gregory Hess

Athletic trainer Mike Hanna treats athlete.

A broken thumb in high school changed Mike Hanna's life forever.

Hanna injured his thumb playing baseball, but his school didn't have a trainer on staff.

"I had no clue it was broken, I was just going to keep playing. No one was there to tell me what the signs or symptoms of a broken bone were. Luckily I got it checked out right away, but if I would have broken it worse, I would have needed surgery," Hanna said.

That incident helped start Hanna on a path to athletic training. He earned an undergraduate degree at Buena Vista University in Iowa, and went on to Northern Illinois University where he earned a master's degree in exercise physiology and worked exclusively with the school's wrestling team. He is now contracted to Roosevelt University through Accelerated Rehabilitation

Services, and spends his days traveling with the Lakers to games and rehabbing players.

Hanna, like the rest of the Roosevelt athletics staff, has gotten used to making do with the resources he can get. In his new makeshift office in AUD 380, a small freezer sits on a table for making ice packs, used for icing down players' muscles.

March was National Athletic Training Awareness Month, and Hanna is quick to point out a lot of misconceptions regarding athletic trainers. Make no mistake — athletic trainers do far more than supply water and tape up sore ankles; every sport requires a different strategy, and athletic trainers are responsible for educating coaches, preventing injuries and maintaining player safety. Hanna also deals with any liability issues and insurance claims. During competitions, athletic trainers are also responsible for injury evaluations, making the ultimate determination if an athlete is OK to play, or in need of a doctor's care.

"When they hear the word "trainer," people will often think of dog trainers and horse trainers. We're also mixed up with personal training, but how we work with the body and the role we play is very different," Hanna said.

"Back in the day, some of the old players would just say, ‘here's some smelling salt' if a player had a concussion. Today, of course, we have a much different approach," Hanna said. "We do a lot of things to strengthen the muscles and try to prevent the muscles from breaking down over the course of a season."

Because multiple teams often compete at once, Hanna can't be at every Lakers game, so when teams compete elsewhere, he relies on in-house trainers of other schools to look after players in the event of an injury situation.

Overall, the Lakers athletes had been relatively injury-free until the last month or so, with three athletes sustaining major injuries, including a broken hand and a torn ACL.

"Overall this year, we did pretty well. The few injuries we've experienced have all been acute — there was nothing preventative that we could have done," Hanna said.

Hanna said that the combination of a well-run first-year program as well as an emphasis on the total student athlete experience has made his experience at Roosevelt thus far unique.

"We're like an expansion team, so winning is going to take a while. But here we're also focused on the complete student — on the playing field and in the classroom as well," Hanna said.

"It's hard to place wins and losses on what we do, but having athletic training is a huge part of any well-run athletic department," Hanna said.

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