Keeping Athletes in the Game

Concussion therapists like Carissa Colangelo, MS, LAT, have special treatments and specific exercises to help an athlete return to normal after an injury.

Athletic Trainers Play a Key Role in Preventing and Managing Injuries

Carissa Colangelo, MS, LAT, goes to work every day with hopes of making a real difference in the lives of others. Whether she is working with a high school football star who is recovering from a shoulder injury or a man in his 60s who just had knee replacement surgery and wants to get his running shoes back on, her goal is the same.

“I’m here to help people get back to doing what they love,” she says.

Colangelo serves as the coordinator of Athletic Training Services at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network at MedStar Harbor Hospital. She leads a team of athletic trainers who work in collaboration with sports medicine physicians to provide preventive, emergency and rehabilitative medical care. In addition to working side-by-side with the sports medicine physicians at the hospital, the team works with local high school athletes, serving as the “go-to” resource for injury prevention and management for students at six public schools located in Anne Arundel County.

“We’re in the training room to help with stretching, taping, and anything else the athletes need to prepare for practices and games, and then we’re out there on the sidelines to respond immediately in the event an injury occurs,” Colangelo explains. “We can assess the injury on the spot and determine what the best course of action is.”

Depending on the severity of the injury, an athletic trainer may determine a trip to the Emergency department or an urgent care center is what’s needed. Or the trainer may recommend a visit to a primary care physician or orthopaedic specialist, or perhaps even a few sessions of physical therapy. Either way, it’s the job of the athletic trainer to coordinate care and serve as the central point of contact for all providers who will be involved in managing the player’s injury. 

“We call athletic trainers our ‘boots on the ground’ because often, they are there when the injury first happens, they work with the athlete and his or her coach and parents to make medical decisions, they stay involved throughout the entire care process, and eventually oversee that athlete’s return to the field or the game once they have recovered,” adds Colangelo.

Another key focus for athletic trainers is education. They spend time assessing their athletes’ general health and function, with emphasis on the steps that can be taken to prevent injuries. They also talk with athletes, coaches, and parents about issues such as hydration and how to identify the signs and symptoms associated with concussions.

“If a concussion does occur, it may not be necessary to go to the hospital for emergency care, but our athletic trainers can arrange for the athlete to see a physician who specializes in treating concussions,” explains Colangelo.

Because concussions are one of the most common injuries that young athletes face, MedStar Harbor offers a comprehensive concussion program that applies a “whole body” approach to care. Here, athletic trainers and sports medicine physicians collaborate to develop customized treatment and recovery plans for each patient.

“We realize players are eager to get back in the game, but when a concussion occurs, it’s important to listen to your physician and take time to rest and recover,” says Jeffrey Mayer, MD, a sports medicine physician at MedStar Harbor. “Our goal is to get people healthy and back to their prior level of function in a safe and efficient manner.”

Colangelo, who is also a concussion-trained therapist, adds, “There are a variety of tools we can utilize in physical therapy to help alleviate symptoms that can occur as a result of a concussion and get athletes back on the field as soon as possible.”

Location Information

To schedule an appointment, please call 855-546-1828.

MedStar NRH-MedStar Harbor Hospital Sports Medicine
2900 South Hanover St.
Suite 102
Baltimore, Maryland 21225
Fax: 410-350-3821

Hours of Operation

Monday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.