Michael Smuda, Physician Extender and Certified Athletic Trainer

Q: What is an athletic trainer (ATC) and what can they do?
A: An athletic trainer is a multi-skilled healthcare professional that provides medical services and treatment under the direction or collaboration of a physician within their state statutes. Treatments includes injury prevention, emergent care, clinical evaluation of injuries, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

Q: Where do athletic trainers work?
A: Athletic trainers are currently working within several different settings. They are found working in educational institutions like high schools and colleges, where they provide support for all of the student athletes at their respective institutions. ATCs also work alongside physicians in the clinical setting, acting as physician extenders to improve the efficiency and flow of clinic, as well as acting as patient liaisons managing post-operative care. They work with the military and with other first responders to help keep them safe on and off duty. Additionally, athletic trainers work with all professional sports teams and are also working within the performing arts.

University of Maryland athletic trainers, along with our physicians, currently serve as the official medical provider of the Terps and support Howard County Public Schools' sports teams, in addition to providing care in the clinical setting.

Q: Why are Athletic Trainers important?
A: Athletic trainers are the ones who quickly respond to injuries on the field or in the workplace and have the knowledge base to appropriately treat critical injuries. ATCs develop rehab and injury prevention programs for athletes and weekend warriors to ensure proper movement mechanics and proper form during sport and activity. They are able to diagnosis concussions and know the steps to follow to get that person back to activity.

The American Academy of Pediatrics demonstrated that having an athletic trainer available for student athletes helped lower injury rates and provided more precise and accurate evaluations and proper return-to-play outlines for concussions and other injuries.

Q: Are athletic trainers and personal trainers the same thing?
A: No, athletic trainers and personal trainers are not the same role. An athletic trainer needs to graduate from an accredited athletic training program and take a board exam in order to treat patients. While there is some overlap with the sports performance aspect of each job, athletic trainers have a wider scope to their practice, and personal trainers are focused on improving physical fitness and wellness in the lay population.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 410-448-6400 or visit University of Maryland Orthopaedics.