Staying in the Game: Players perform, but the trainers make it happen

As I watched the Super Bowl, I got to see hours upon hours of preparation by each team as they tried to win the Lombardi Trophy. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers may have won the MVP of the Super Bowl but it took a team effort for him to achieve the honor.

Rodgers had to have his offensive line block the Steelers’ defense to have time to pass. He had to have his receivers catch the ball and run with it.

For these plays to work, Rodgers and the Packers had to have a coaching staff develop a strategy and draw up plays they thought would work against the Steelers.

The goal for the Packers and Steelers, and all teams in the NFL, is to get to the Super Bowl and become champions. Only one team gets to be called Super Bowl champion.

During the game there were a number of players injured. Some injuries were minor and the player just shook it off and continued to play. Others were more severe and took the player out of the game.

How an injured player is evaluated and treated on the field is well orchestrated. The trainer for the team does the initial evaluation on the field or the sideline. He will decide whether the injury is significant or not and what care to provide the player.

All of this starts at preseason. The players train in the offseason to get ready for training camp. During this time they have a training program developed by the strength and conditioning coach. Training camp is where they will compete to make the team and learn the plays.

The team also puts together a staff of trained health care providers. This medical staff will include internists, orthopedists, chiropractors and physical therapists who will work with the team trainer.

I was visiting a classmate, Dr. Elliott Grusky of Miami, last May. Dr. Grusky for the past 14 years has been the team chiropractor for the University of Miami.

He started working with the football team. Because of his success, players from the other teams started to use his services.

During my visit he got a phone call from the trainer for the baseball team. The Hurricanes were playing Virginia, at the time the No. 1 team in the country. He was hoping Dr. Grusky could come down to the stadium that night to evaluate and treat several players.

The Hurricanes play in the new Alex Rodriguez Stadium.

Inside the locker room the music was pounding and the players were getting dressed and having a light snack before the game. A chiropractic table was set up.

I met the trainer, who is from New Hampshire and is a graduate of Northeastern University. He went into the training room to work on some players while Dr. Grusky started his work.

Very few of us get to have this kind of access to this level of care for our sports injuries.

If you are a parent of a student-athlete, get to know the trainer for the school. Let the trainer know the medical history of your child.

Also let the trainer know the health care providers you have worked with in the past. Ask the trainer who he likes to work with as well.

If you are a weekend warrior, you can also develop a team of sports specialists to prevent and treat your injuries so you can stay in the game.