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Variety of career drew Perkins' Tim Pudloski toward athletic training

AnthonyMoujaes • Dec 26, 2010 at 9:26 AM

The variety of the job is what makes Tim Pudloski eager to work each day.

"I like the mix; I see patients in the morning, which is more of a shirt-and-tie job," he said. "Then I work with coaches and kids in a more laid back environment."

Pudloski, a 1989 Vermilion graduate, has worked for Advanced Health and has been the trainer at Perkins since 1994.

The most rewarding part of his work is to rehab an athlete back from injury and make that previously injured part function stronger than before.

He's usually at Advanced Health from 8 a.m.-noon working with patients, then is at the school from 2-6 p.m. for practices. Like other trainers, he is at as many home events he can attend -- sometimes simultaneously, and travels to all home and away football games.

Trainers must balance the interest of an athlete's wellness against the desire to return to a game after any injury -- minor or severe -- a major responsibility to a player and a team.

"I treat athletes like they're my own two kids," Pudloski said. "I don't want kids out there that shouldn't be playing. They may not always like that decision, but I wouldn't want my two kids out there playing with the risk of injury.

"We're here to serve the kids. We're here for their well-being."

Pudloski said one of the oddest and strangest injuries he learned about was the death of Aaron Richardson in 2004. Richardson, a Perkins graduate who walked on to the Bowling Green football team, experienced cramping during a practice, and died of hemoglobinopathy associated with sickle cell, a coroner ruled. The condition prevents blood cells from carrying enough oxygen to the body.

"That's something you have to be prepared for," Pudloski said.

There is also the risk of major injuries to knee ligaments, bone fractures and concussions, though Pudloski said he has never treate a life-threatening injury in his 16 years at Perkins.

The attention to concussions has increased, which makes the need for a trainer more important.

"You'll see (the trainer) industry open up more, I think," Pudloski said. "And you'll see us at more events and the job market improve."

Athletic trainers must be certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association. To receive that certification, a trainer must complete the following criteria:

1. Earn a bachelor of science from an NATA accredited school.

2. A six-hour certification exam.

3. A state licensing exam.

Pudloski said he commonly treats ankle and knee injuries, and strains and sprains -- strains occur in the muscle, sprains occur in the ligaments that attach to bones.

Reducing the chance of injuries starts with trainers and coaches teaching proper form in any physical activity -- even cheerleading, where Pudloski has seen some back injuries.

"If you have good coaches training (their players) properly, it makes it a lot easier because they won't have to do a lot of therapy or work on injuries," Pudloski said. "A lot of it is on us keeping coaches up on training and nutrition. If you want to improve your athletic programs, you've got to have some flexibility training and conditioning."

Pudloski talks with athletes whenever he can on proper nutrition -- getting enough carbohydrates to fuel the body, staying hydrated with water or sports drinks, and eating natural proteins to build lean muscle -- and the proper amount of rest.

"We also try to educate parents on nutrition," Pudloski said. "We don't want kids walking in eating a candy bar."

For an athlete to get his or her body ready for the season, Pudloski recommends enough sleep at night so the body isn't drained during workouts, and going to team camps and offseason training.

"You can't flip a switch (before the year)," he said. "You can't be a bum all summer an show up to two-a-days and run. Otherwise, you'll spend a lot of time with me."

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