What does an athletic trainer do?

, ,

By Sarah Maninga, Certified Athletic Trainer


If you’ve ever attended a home game in Sebeka, Menahga or Wadena-Deer Creek, you might have seen me standing on the sidelines. As a certified athletic trainer, it’s myAthletic Trainer - Door Decor job to watch over student athletes in case of injury. To celebrate this month as National Athletic Training Month, let me tell you a little more about what I do and why athletic trainers are so important for students.


Community outreach

I serve three area schools – Menahga, Sebeka and Wadena-Deer Creek – on a contractual basis. Under that contract, I see elementary through high school students and provide them anything they might need that is sports health related. During the school year, it’s evaluating injuries during practices or games and making treatment recommendations. In the summer, it’s providing strength training and other conditioning services.

My day typically starts around noon in Menahga, and then I travel to Sebeka and finally Wadena. While at each school, I check in with students, whether it’s tending to new injuries or following up with old ones, and update coaches on their students’ status. Before practice, students come to me to get their injuries taped or looked at, and then I’ll peek in a few times during practice.

Along with communicating with coaches, I will also involve the student’s parents and their provider if needed.



My game schedule is predetermined in the fall. I sit down with the schools’ athletic directors, and we go day by day to decide where I should be. We try to make it as even as possible between the schools.

Athletic trainer applying a bandage to the inured knee of a female volleyball player.I attend home games to provide first aid, treat new injuries, and be there in case of a medical emergency. That’s not just limited to athletes. If someone in the stands has a heart attack, if a referee is injured or if a kid falls in the hallway, I would treat them as well.

Before each game, I check in with students to see if anything needs to be taped or evaluated, I make sure I have all the equipment I need such as ice packs or crutches, and provide water.

Anytime a visiting team comes to one of my schools, I’m in charge of them too. In the case of serious injuries, I contact their athletic trainer that night or the next morning to alert them of the situation.

If a team makes it to the postseason, I’ll travel with them to every game. I’ve also gone to state with a few of the teams, and that’s always a really fun experience.

Some of the most common injuries I see are concussions, scrapes, sprains, strains or jammed fingers, but I’ve seen everything from allergic reactions to broken femurs. You never really know what’s going to happen. I always say that it’s good when I’m bored because that means no one’s getting hurt.


Fostering relationshipsAthletic Trainer, Sarah Maninga, sits at her desk behind her computer and smiles for the camera.

My favorite part of being an athletic trainer is building relationships with the kids. A lot of times, kids will come visit me just to chat.

I love sharing with them all about what I do to hopefully generate curiosity about the world of sports medicine. I think it’s huge to get kids excited about this field, especially if they plan to come back here someday. There aren’t many athletic trainers in the area, and it’s huge for a school to have one.

There are a lot of kids that I look out for, and getting to know their individual personalities is really fun. One of the joys of my job is getting to watch them grow and succeed.


For more information about Sarah’s services and sports medicine, click here.



Athletic Trainer - Maninga FamilyAbout the Author: Sarah Maninga has been an athletic trainer at TCHC since January 2015. She works with athletes at three area schools: Wadena-Deer Creek, Sebeka and Menahga. During her time off, she enjoys spending her time with her husband on their small farm and doing anything that involves being outside, especially hunting and running.

When sports injuries strike, TCHC is there

, , ,

By Sarah Maninga, TCHC Certified Athletic Trainer


The fall sports season is well under way, and with that comes the risk of injuries associated with athletes.

As an athletic trainer, I am trained in evaluating injuries and make suggestions for the next step after injuries happen. This can include immediate care on the sidelines or a visit to sports A nurse applying a bandage to the inured knee of a female volleyball sports player.medicine, ReadyCare or the emergency department.


The right care, right away

When an injury happens at a sporting event, an athletic trainer is typically the first to run out onto the field or the first person to meet the athlete after they walk off the field. We see a wide variety of injuries ranging from bloody noses to broken bones.

When an athlete is down on the field or the court, the first thing we do is determine the extent of the injury. From there, we decide if we need more medical responders such as an ambulance. If we decide it does not require an ambulance, we can move the athlete to the sidelines and begin an evaluation.

This includes:

  • History (location of pain, peripheral symptoms, mechanism of injury, associated sounds and symptoms, history of injury)
  • Palpation (bony alignment, joint alignment, swelling, painful areas, deficit in muscles or tendons)
  • Joint and muscle function (range of motion, weight-bearing status)

After we go through the evaluation, we need to decide how to manage the injury. This can include putting a bag of ice on a sprained ankle, splinting a broken wrist or having the parents bring the athlete to the emergency department.


Care choices

So how do you choose where to take your child athlete when he or she gets hurt? It mostly depends on the injury, and you have multiple options to choose from.


Sports medicine. TCHC offers a Sports Medicine Clinic Monday through Friday from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Wadena Clinic. It is also offered at the Henning Clinic Monday through Friday byYoung injured boy playing the sport of basketball holding an ice bag on his head. appointment. This service includes a free sports injury evaluation by one of TCHC’s medical providers. All student athletes from elementary to high school are eligible.

This is a great option for overuse injuries such as tendinitis and for non-emergency acute injuries such as joint sprains and muscle strains.

If the medical provider determines that there needs to be additional testing or services after the evaluation, then fees for those services will be charged at that time.


ReadyCare is a walk-in clinic offered by TCHC. It is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. This is a great option for a variety of illnesses and sports injuries including:

  • Minor lacerations
  • Minor traumas
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Skin rashes/infections
  • Sprains
  • Strains


The emergency department is a 24-hour service open seven days a week. The emergency department is for more serious injuries such as broken bones or dislocations, but it is also an option when everything else is closed and an injury or illness can’t wait until the next day.



Photo of Sarah with her family.About the Author: Sarah Maninga has been an athletic trainer at TCHC since January 2015. She works with athletes at three area schools: Wadena Deer Creek, Sebeka and Menahga. During her time off, she enjoys spending her time with her husband on their small farm and doing anything that involves being outside, especially hunting and running.

Concussions: An Athletic Trainer’s Perspective

, , , , , ,

Concussions, type it into Google© and you will end up with 14,500,000 results and all those articles can leave you with your head spinning in hundreds of different directions. Many of us hear about concussions daily and probably see something about them on the national news almost every night. If you have a child who plays sports you may be wondering if you should continue to let them play. I’m here to tell you that yes concussions can be scary, but that doesn’t mean we should wrap our children in bubble wrap and sit them on the couch.

So, what exactly is a concussion? A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. It occurs when direct and indirect forces are applied to the skull that result in the brain either rapidly accelerating or decelerating. This causes impairment of the brains functions.

The symptoms of a concussion can vary and all of them do not need to be present for you to be diagnosed with a concussion. Symptoms include a loss of consciousness, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, poor balance, sensitivity to light, ringing in ears and sensitivity to noise, blurred vision, poor concentration, memory problems, drowsiness, fatigue, sadness, depression, irritability and neck pain.

A word of caution here: NO concussion is the same. If someone you know gets a concussion, don’t diagnosis yourself with their symptoms. People will react differently to them and there’s no set timeline saying how long a concussion will last.

One of the biggest things I think people forget is that concussions don’t just happen in sports. They can happen doing almost anything. Yes, anything! Sure, they are more likely in sports; however, you could be walking out to get your mail and get a concussion because you slipped on the ice and hit your head. You could be heading out to do your favorite winter activity like ice fishing and get a concussion because you slipped and bumped your head on the ground. Anyone can get a concussion.

So what do we do about concussions? In the sports medicine world, if we suspect a concussion in an athlete we remove them from the game and do a sideline assessment. This consists of rating symptoms on a scale of 0 to 6, immediate memory questions, concentration exercises, an eye/pupil exam and motor and balance exercises. We also check to ensure that all cranial nerves are functioning during this time. Once an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion they can’t return to play until they are symptom free and they have completed the “Return to Play” protocol. The “Return to Play” protocol lasts four days with each day consisting of the athlete gradually getting a little more into practice. The student athlete must remain symptom free through this protocol and if they don’t, then they go back and start over once symptom free again.

It is hard for anyone to completely prevent a concussion, but there are things we can do. We can make sure football and hockey players have up-to-date helmets and that our athletes/children are learning proper hitting and tackling techniques. We can educate coaches, parents and athletes about concussions, their symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis. If a concussion goes undiagnosed or an athlete returns to play before it is resolved it can have long-term effects, including post-concussion syndrome or second impact syndrome. Individuals with post-concussion syndrome can have concussion symptoms that persist for more than three months. Second impact syndrome is when a patient receives a second concussion before the first one is resolved.

Yes, concussions can be scary. That is why parents and coaches need to be aware of concussions, what the symptoms are, understand they can happen to anyone and know if you suspect a concussion to make sure the individual sees a health care professional as soon as possible. Early diagnosis will help the student athlete get back to the sport they love and help an adult get back to their daily activities sooner.

Bubble wrap not necessary.


About the author:

4x5 Maninga Sarah
Sarah Maninga has been the Athletic Trainer at Tri-County Health Care since January 2015. Her services are contracted with the Wadena Deer Creek and Sebeka schools. When she is not busy at the schools, she enjoys spending time with her husband on their small farm near Menahga and doing anything that involves the outdoors.