5 Questions With Casey Paulk, ATC

5 Questions with Athletic Trainer Casey Paulk


Q: What was your path to becoming an Athletic Trainer, and why did you choose this career?

A: I chose athletic training as career for many reasons. I suffered a hamstring injury at a summer baseball camp before my senior year of high school. This was my first significant injury and it sidelined me for weeks. I did not have an athletic trainer nor did I go to a physical therapy clinic for treatment and rehab. During the time I was sidelined two of my friends and teammates of mine suffered significant knee injuries. One tore his ACL and the other suffered a severed peroneal nerve. Being on the sidelines and wanting to make sure they were ok, they described their symptoms. It interested me and challenged my thinking to figure out what the injury was. Another reason athletic training was the specific career I wanted to be involved in occurred to me during a Thanksgiving trip to Hawaii my senior year a few months later. My brother played Division I college basketball and they were in a tournament there. I noticed that my brother had a great relationship with the athletic trainer. The AT was in Hawaii, on Thanksgiving, with his family, eating at nice restaurants, watching college basketball. The lightbulb came on and I said, “That has to be the coolest job!”  I loved college basketball. I loved baseball. I knew I wanted to work with sports and I knew I liked helping people who were hurt. Athletic Training was the career that perfectly combined both of these things. This was the beginning of the path I took that finished with my bachelors of athletic training from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.


Q: What is the most rewarding part of being an Athletic Trainer?

A: The most rewarding parts of being an Athletic Trainer is helping an athlete return to play after their injury to the same high level they were playing at. Another is guiding high school students into a career in Athletic Training. It is also very rewarding when the parents/athletes/students say THANK YOU.


Q: What is the most common injury you see in high school athletics, and how do you treat it and/or prevent it?

A:  I would say ankle injuries are the most common injuries seen in high schools.  Doing functional rehab exercises to increase the strength of the muscles associated with the ankle.


Q: What new technologies and/or products should Athletic Trainers be aware of?

A: I think the systems to help identify athletes’ weak musculoskeletal areas are beneficial right now. Corrective exercise and functional assessment products are beneficial to help prevent injuries. 


Q: How often do you use cold and compression therapy to treat your athletes, and what are the benefits?

A: Cold and compression therapy is used almost daily to treat athletes’ injuries. This type of treatment helps decrease pain, inflammation and swelling, therefore, increasing the athletes’ return to play.