For more than 50 years, certified athletic trainers (ATs) have been employed in traditional settings such as professionalsports, universities, colleges, and high schools. As part of the evolution of this field, much like other health professions (e.g., nursing, physical therapy, chiropractic), ATs are received as allied-health professionals and work alongside colleagues in physical therapy clinics, hospitals, corporate and industrial settings, and other “nontraditional” settings. The AT is also considered a physician extender and works even more closely with the physician, helping the active population stay healthy. In all of these settings, ATs are working with people who want to recover from injury or sickness as soon as possible. Because of this close working relationship, many patients are now asking questions about types of medications and how they work to aid in the recovery or healing of their illness or injury. In specific instances, the use of medications can be an integral part of the healing process. An AT must now understand the many facets of pharmacology: how drugs work in the body, the indications and adverse effects that might affect rehabilitation or participation, the types of drugs that are typically abused, the availability of prescription and over-the-counter drugs (OTCs), the legal aspects of medicines, and emergency situations that involve medications. Although the AT cannot be expected to know all of the implications of every medication on the market, it is important that ATs know where to look for applicable drug information.
Having taught courses in pharmacology to athletic training students in approved athletic training curriculums for many years and utilizing a variety of related textbooks, we wanted to provide a more direct approach for the athletic training student to learn about this topic. We have striven to present the major areas of cognitive skills most likely to be used in professional practice. It was also important to get input and direction from a number of sources when writing this text. We have combined the efforts of university faculty and team physicians at both the university and the high school levels to put together a text that provides the information an AT needs to work knowledgeably in a chosen practice setting.
With pharmacology issues cropping up more frequently in the athletic training setting, especially medication protocols, it’s important to understand that the AT is not the person who prescribes medications to athletes but is, in many instances, the person who answers the first line of questions from the athlete. Although ATs cannot prescribe medications, they should always keep in mind the legal implications of drug use by people with whom they daily work. The laws concerning medications and the AT’s role vary from state to state. It is important for ATs to fully investigate all the legal aspects of their profession in the state in which they practice. In most states, the AT can legally “administer” medication to an athlete under the auspices of a physician, but it remains the responsibility of the AT to ensure that the athlete is completely informed about the prescribed drug.
This text is designed to discuss the overall pharmacological aspects of common medical conditions that athletic trainers may encounter in their careers. The information presented focuses on aspects relevant to the AT. Many chapters provide scenarios and specific information that come from real-life situations experienced by ATs practicing in a variety of settings.
Pharmacology will continue to change as new drugs are developed and our knowledge about how drugs work increases. We fully recognize that no textbook can totally keep pace with so dynamic a field, but we attempted to provide as up-to-date information as possible. We welcome any suggestions or ideas to improve this work in future additions. Please feel free to contact us with your suggestions through F.A. Davis Publishers or directly.
Brent C. Mangus, AT-Retired
Michael G. Miller, PhD, EdD, ATC, CSCS, FNATA, FNSCA