By Breanna Cooper
FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS, Jenna Casale has worked as an athletic trainer at the Athletico Physical Therapy branch in Greenfield. There, she works with student athletes from Eastern Hancock High School to treat sports-related injuries, which she has personal experience with.
During her senior year at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Casale injured her knee playing for the soccer team. After working with an athletic therapist, Casale discovered her career path.
“When I realized there was a job that allowed me to stay around sports and help others, I decided that is exactly what I wanted to do,” Casale, 24, said. “They [physical therapist and high school athletic trainer] genuinely cared about me outside of just my knee injury and made the recovery process fun, engaging and worth every second. … I knew I wanted to be able to help others the way I was helped.”
After studying athletic training at Anderson University, Casale quickly found her footing in the profession.
“My experience in the field has been crazy, fun and baptism by fire,” Casale said. “ … My absolute favorite part of my job is the relationships I get to build. My athletes know to come to my training room when they are injured, but they also have realized that they can come in my training room anytime for anything. We talk, laugh, share stories, and they know they have somebody that will listen to them even for five minutes.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 8.6 million sports-related injuries are reported every year in the United States. Casale said injuries change based on sports seasons, but the most common injuries she sees are ankle injuries and injuries to the lower back and shoulders.
“A lot of my athletes in basketball, volleyball, softball, cheer and football have ankle and shoulder injuries,” she said. “They have acute episodes that occur during the season or several of them have chronic issues from previous injuries.”
To treat her athletes, Casale works on ankle strengthening and shoulder mobility and strengthening depending on what each individual athlete needs. For back injuries, Casale said she focuses on flexibility and core strength to help manage and alleviate pain.
To avoid injuries, Casale said it’s the little things that can make a big difference.
“Avoiding injuries is all in preparation and doing the little things right,” Casale said. “Take the extra time before and after a workout, practice or game and stretch. … Also, working in the weight room, focusing on proper form can help better prepare athletes. Lastly, drink water! Stay hydrated, always. It’s also important to enjoy what you are doing. Sports require a lot of hard work, but they should still be fun.”
While athletic therapy is often a lot of work, Casale said her athletes make the workload enjoyable.
“My athletes and the relationships we have been able to build are the highlight of each day and make all the hardships worthwhile,” Casale said. “Helping them, in any way I can, is all I could ask for, and I am blessed to have the privilege to take care of them.” I