Early in his high school career, Ryan Arnold, a lacrosse player, wound up with chronic exertional compartment syndrome, a painful muscle and nerve condition caused in athletes by repetitive exercise.
It wasn't properly diagnosed until his senior year, when a new athletic trainer at his school committed himself to figuring out why Arnold's legs hurt so much. Arnold had surgery and was able to play the sport in college.
"I saw the effect that a good athletic trainer can have on somebody's future," said the 26-year-old athletic trainer with the University of Rochester Medical Center's Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.
According to the New York Department of Labor,employment opportunities for athletic trainers are expected to grow by 28.6 percent between 2010 and 2020 in the Finger Lakes region. Demand should increase as awareness grows about sports-related injuries at young ages.
Arnold, who has a bachelor's degree in sports medicine from Pennsylvania's Mercyhurst University and is licensed as a certified athletic trainer through New York state, splits his time between URMC's sports medicine clinic in Brighton and the Aquinas Institute on Dewey Avenue.
He focuses on preventing injuries, as well as providing emergency and rehabilitation care for injuries. Weekend games at Aquinas, where he works with more than 20 sports teams in grades 7 to 12, are responsible for his typical six-day workweek.