Alabama lawmakers to debate controversial bill about athletic trainers

Updated: Feb. 2, 2021 at 10:42 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Alabama lawmakers plan to debate a controversial bill that could impact how your injuries are treated.

Senate Bill 73 would, “provide further for the licensing and regulation of athletic trainers to treat athletic injuries sustained by physically active individuals.”

Alabama State Senator Jabo Waggoner said Senate Bill 73 combines the expertise of athletic trainers and doctors to help someone who has an athletic injury.

“It establishes an Athletic Training Advisory Council between the Board of Medical Examiners and the Alabama Board of Athletic Trainers.” Senator Waggoner said.

For Kyle Southall who is the President of the Alabama Athletic Trainers’ Association, he said the benefit of this bill passing could mean access to care for those in rural areas.

“We could do the initial evaluation so if it warranted a physician referral or anything further, then the athletic trainer would facilitate that if that person is in a rural area where there aren’t many doctors around,” Southall said. “That person might just go home rather than being seen otherwise.”

Southall said this bill does not mean athletic trainers are practicing outside their education, instead it’s a catching up of sorts.

“Senate Bill 73 will modernize our language as athletic trainers. The current law was written in 1993 and the education standards athletic training requires is a masters level education moving forward, but back then it was a four year bachelor’s degree,” Southall said.

However, Physical Therapist Connor Knapp with the Alabama Physical Therapy Association said if Senate Bill 73 gets approved, it could spell disaster.

“It opens up the scope of practice to athletic trainers to legally treat physically active individuals without any clear definitions for most any medical condition.”

Physical Therapist Knapp also said if this bill is passed it could mean they are practicing outside their area of expertise.

“As a physical therapist I am not doing cardiac surgeries for example, I am staying within my scope of practice,” he said.

The bill has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

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