New Jersey Athletic Trainers Help United States Coast Guard Recruits Avoid Injury

Sheri Neri

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Training Center is located in Cape May, New Jersey. Recruits come from all over the United States to start the journey of becoming an active duty member of the USCG. That journey begins with a rigorous eight week bootcamp. These recruits participate in several hours of physical activity a day, seven days a week. This type of training is essential to becoming an active duty member of the USCG but can often lead to injury, especially for recruits who arrive without adequate physical fitness preparation. 


Athletic trainers are the healthcare professionals helping recruits avoid injury and limit time lost to training. The USCG Athletic Training Department is tasked with managing recruit injuries. Prior to athletic trainers being utilized, all recruit injuries were screened at the physical therapy department at the main Coast Guard clinic. This caused a large volume of patients and limited resources available to active duty personnel. 


Sherilyn Neri (MS, LAT, ATC) has worked as an athletic trainer at the training facility since 2013. Ms. Neri evaluates injured recruits, treats their injuries, makes modifications to their training, and refers them to other medical professionals if needed. Injured recruits may have difficulty making it to graduation. 


“Athletic trainers have been extremely beneficial to getting recruits back into training quicker. This allows recruits to complete bootcamp, graduate, and ultimately out into the fleet to complete the USCG mission,” said Master Chief Juan Perez, Clinic Supervisor at USCG Training Center. 


Sherilyn Neri’s day as an athletic trainer at the USCG Training Center is a clinic setting. Injured recruits check-in daily for re-evaluation and rehabilitation. Ms. Neri determines if the recruits’ treatment plan is successful and their duty status. From there, she checks-in with recruits during training sessions. Ms. Neri meets with members of the medical team weekly to discuss the recruits’ treatment plans and update military personnel on injuries.


Injuries often developed by recruits are stress fractures. These injuries can develop much quicker in the military setting due to the rigorous training and deconditioning of recruits prior to entering the eight week bootcamp. Athletic trainers are key to identifying stress fractures and gradually bringing recruits back into training. Preventing re-injury is essential to limiting time lost to training and overextending the eight week bootcamp. 


“Athletic trainers help cut down on injuries and keep recruits graduating within eight weeks. With longer term injuries, like stress fractures, athletic trainers help keep recruits on the base, doing rehabilitation, and helping prevent them from being medically discharged,” said Sherilyn Neri.


Athletic trainer value in non-traditional settings, such as the military, has steadily grown over the last few decades. Other military branches have begun to use athletic trainers in similar fashion to the USCG. The Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey (ATSNJ) Clinical and Emerging Practices Committee along with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Council on Practice Advancement (COPA) works to advance the profession in these areas. The ATSNJ embodies common goals in order to advance, encourage, provide a means for achievement, and improve the athletic training profession in New Jersey. Currently ATSNJ has 1073 members working in a variety of healthcare settings.


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