PROSPERITY — She saw a player lying on the field, unresponsive and training took over for Mid-Carolina High School athletic trainer Ashley Claprood.
A second year student in USC’s athletic training program, she secured the student to a backboard to immobilize him and helped as EMS transported him to the hospital.
As a University of South Carolina graduate assistant, she’s worked at Mid-Carolina High School since August 2013, spending at least 20 hours per week there.
She said 99 percent of the time her job involves the routine, treating strains and sprains, getting students to rest and ice injuries and helping them with strengthening exercises.
But there is that 1 percent for which she trains extensively: Heat illness, concussions, bleeding on the brain — if misdiagnosed those injuries could be life threatening.
“Emergency preparation is something you don’t want to have to do but you can rely on the training if needed,” she said.
If an athlete is injured she makes sure the student is breathing and conscious. Then, she tries to learn from the student, players and coaches about the history of the injury, if she did not see the impact firsthand.
For instance, she can do an evaluation on an injured knee’s range of motion and check a student’s meniscus. She also looks for bruising or swelling.
For an ankle injury, she would look for bruising, swelling and tenderness on the outside of the ankle. If she feels or sees a bony deformity, that could indicate a fracture.
Unless serious injury is suspected, she has students RICE (rest, ice, elevate and compress) the injury.
“But if it is not healing as it should, I talk with parents about a referral, preferably an orthopedic referral. Since I am networked with USC Sports Medicine, we can contact them and likely get MCHS students seen within a week,” she said.
As Athletic Trainer Appreciation Month ends, her work at MCHS continues. She will be assigned there until she graduates in May.
MCHS does not have an athletic training course for it students, but in the fall three student volunteers, two juniors and one senior, assisted her so they could learn more about the job and about the medical field.
Hydration, stretching and taping techniques were among the things the volunteers helped with. By the end of the season all three had learned to tape ankles.
Claprood talked with the youth about blood borne pathogens, triage of multiple injuries at the same time on the field. She said the three learned a lot and solidified decisions to study health care in the future.
For the general student population, she has to get the teens to buy into what she teaches them regarding hydration, body mechanics, nutrition and stretching.
“Their bones are growing faster than their muscles so youth that age get super tight. If I had my way every child would be on a stretching regimen,” she said.
Providing educational resources is another part of her job. Each athlete had a concussion sheet that was signed by the athlete, parent, coach and trainer.
She helps coaches and players stay up to date on new concussion guidelines and said the MCHS coaching staff and AD have been a joy to work with.
“They let us take over and never question a (neurological/concussion) evaluation so that makes my job less stressful,” she said.
Claprood had a part-time athletic trainer in high school, though as a volleyball player she does not recall being seriously injured.
Her school had fewer resources than MCHS but that dedicated trainer helped her and her teammates through the season.
Wanting to go into the medical field but wanting to be in a hands-on environment, she chose athletic training as her major at Miami of Ohio.
“As a freshman I went on rotations to observe so I was right there right away,” she said. She completed her undergraduate degree and nearly is done with her master’s degree.
For Claprood, mornings are spent in college classes and the afternoons/evenings are at MCHS. She covers home games for basketball and spring sports and she traveled with the football team. During football season she attended every practice and every game.
“The high school kids (are a fun group to work with). You can impact younger kids now so in the future they will know how to take care of themselves, especially those who play sports year round,” she said.
Her first year of graduate school she worked with the equestrian team at USC.
“I loved the work I did with the equestrian team and learned new dynamics to athletic training, but I plan to pursue my career at the high school athletic training level,” she said.
She, like all athletic training graduate assistants at USC, must conduct research to fulfill all requirements for her master’s of science degree. Some of her classmates are researching heat illness, concussions in youth football or body image in collegiate athletes.
Her research project is different. Entitled “Effects of Monophasic Oral Contraceptives on Anaerobic Capacity in Physically Active Females,” she is doing a study to see if taking birth control pills can affect a particular component of athletic performance.
Working with professors in the Exercise Science Department and in the Pharmacy School, she is examining the exercise and pharmacological components.
As she works with teens in the training room, she has opportunity to talk science with them as well, to tell them about data collection and analysis and about writing and preparing to defend her research project so she can graduate in May.
She also, through small talk about music, yoga, running along the river walk or outdoor activities with friends, models a healthy work-life balance for them, one she hopes they will carry into adulthood.
For her, making time for herself each day might include running along the river walk, yoga, Pilates or outdoor activities with friends.