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HEALTHBEAT 4: How COVID-19 is changing the jobs of athletic trainers

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(KTIV) -- Blisters, broken bones and torn ligaments, they're all things athletic trainers handle for athletes before, during, and after games.
But COVID-19 has changed the way they monitor the health of their athletes.

"We're there from pre-practice to post-practice and regime to post-game." said CNOS Athletics Trainer Mark Schoenfelder

Trainers like Schoenfelder are a common sight for athletes.

"We're either applying braces or tape or getting kids ready to go, getting them warmed up, and working on injuries they currently have a rehabbing them so they are able to perform," said Schoenfelder.

But COVID-19 has changed some of the things trainers have to do. Now to follow CDC guidelines, trainers have limited use of some of their therapeutic methods and equipment.

"The fact that most of the things are multiple-use items, and the fact that the virus can stay on surfaces now and there's some changing on how much and where at, we've kind of limiting that use. We use a towel now as opposed to the terrycloth pack that we normally use," said Schoenfelder.

Other added factors now include screening athletes, and monitoring them to make sure they are healthy.

A big thing they focus on: athletes' lungs.

"If they test positive we have a protocol to help them reacclimate to playing with that thought in mind, that COVID did affect some lung type structures," said Schoenfelder.

Schoenfelder describes that protocol, as a slow build-up, trying to get athletes back to where they were before they were diagnosed.

"So it's like a 50 percent max of 15, 20 minutes of exercise and then we just progress. It's much like if we would progress you back from a head injury. We just limit the amount of aerobic activity you have and then work from there and then once we have you feeling good and feel safe, we start acclimating you back to practice and games," said Schoenfelder.

Schoenfelder says even with the changes, athletes' health is still top of mind for them and they continue to work on those changes each day.

Schoenfelder says mental health is also important for the athletes too, another thing they pay attention to. Many times, trainers are a sounding board for them.

Other changes because of COVID-19 include wearing masks, cleaning more frequently, and making sure athletes bring their own water bottles if they need them.

Michaela Feldmann

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