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Shree Dandekar is a professional athletic trainer serving high school athletes and helping them achieve their best.
As an accredited and certified high school athletic trainer, Shree Dandekar works to help every athlete play at his or her best. From training to stretching to rehabilitation, he works with athletes individually to help their body to reach its fullest potential. Because he is working with high school students, he also stays up-to-date on eligibility requirements for both high school and collegiate levels.
Many of the athletes Shree works with have no aspirations to play on the next level, but some do. For those students, Dandekar works with them to create training regimens that prepare them for a more intense play. He also works with them to provide adequate study time and tutoring to ensure academic eligibility requirements are met. Taking care of each athlete’s needs is a priority for Dandekar and he also coaches serious athletes about nutrition to help them fuel their bodies for success.
Viewing training as more than a one-dimensional job where he bandages cuts and tapes injured joints, Dandekar is constantly learning. When he is not on the field with a team, he is either reading articles about current training techniques and philosophies or exercising. Recent research about concussions is of particular interest because many of the athletes he works with are at risk of experiencing the injury. Shree is following prevention, diagnostic and treatment methods for a variety of injuries to ensure athlete safety. He is also an avid tennis player and plays soccer on a recreational team.
Shree Dandekar was born in New York City. He grew up in Brooklyn playing soccer with friends at a nearby park. When he was in middle school, a coach noticed his speed, agility and skill and asked a trainer to work with him to develop for the high school level. This trainer helped him become stronger and more flexible and also mentored him academically.
In high school, Shree Dandekar was a standout soccer and tennis player. When trainers asked him to focus on one sport for his junior and senior years, he settled on soccer and pursued a spot on a collegiate team. Tennis remained an interest, but he set it aside with the exception of a few matches with family and friends.
When the State University of New York at Buffalo offered Shree Dandekar a partial scholarship and a spot on the soccer team, he jumped at the opportunity. For the duration of his freshman year, he was unsure of what to study and focused mostly on general education classes and achieving on-field success. About halfway through spring practices, Shree tore his ACL and MCL during a scrimmage match. That injury ended his career.
Shree Dandekar considers his injury a blessing in disguise because it allowed him to discover a passion for training. Because he was not ready to leave the world of sports, he pursued a degree in the Exercise Science department. Learning about nutrition, rehabilitation and physical therapy fascinated him and he decided to seek a career as an athletic trainer.
SUNY-Buffalo offers joint degrees for undergraduate students, and Shree Dandekar decided to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science. He exceeded the minimum GPA requirements and studied hard to master the science courses. When he graduated, Dandekar quickly pursued employment with school districts near his home.
In addition to his degree, Shree is certified in the areas of prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of illness and injuries among athletes. The American Medical Association and the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education through the Joint Review Committee-Athletic Training accredited him. Dandekar is also an active member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is one of the leading professional organizations for certified athletic trainers. Members are afforded access to available job postings, continuing education classes, networking and insider information about the industry.
As a school athletic trainer, Shree Dandekar does much more than just tape up injured knees and help stretch out sore muscles. He is responsible for helping keep every athlete safe and teaching them how to avoid injury. The job of an athletic trainer is to help each athlete perform at their best while preventing injury and responding to emergencies.
At the beginning of every school year, student physical assessments are completed. Shree evaluates the students and creates plans to help them improve physically. Part of this process includes education on dietary habits and nutrition. Coaches regularly call him in to give basic lectures to their teams at the beginning of a season. Dandekar values this part of his job because he believes nutrition sets the students up for good health on and off the field.
Before games and practices, a lot of time is spent helping injured players stretch out sore muscles. This helps those who are able to return to play to avoid reinjuring themselves. Dandekar also braces and tapes joints to provide additional support and prevent further injury.
During games and practices, Dandekar monitors players for injuries and assists in medical emergencies. Most often, he faces torn ligaments, sprains and strains. Sometimes more serious injuries including concussions occur, and Dandekar has trained extensively to handle these injuries.
In working with high school students, some of Dandekar’s job duties have nothing to do with sports. Student athletes often confide in him about issues they are struggling with or about their fears related to college. He has taken it upon himself to listen and advise where he can. The job of an athletic trainer is always evolving as new technologies are introduced and research is conducted. Good trainers stay informed beyond the required continuing education and are constantly learning.
One of the most serious injuries athletic trainers face is the concussion. With recent lawsuits from former NFL players drawing attention to the severity of concussions and the danger of improper treatment, trainers are working hard to identify and respond to the injuries. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that can occur on and off the field. Athletes receive them when contact or a fall forces the brain to rattle around inside the skull.
Sometimes, people who suffer concussions have noticeable symptoms including a loss of consciousness, vomiting, light sensitivity and disorientation. Other times there are very few visible symptoms. The best treatment for a concussion is rest, and this involves removing an athlete from play and workouts. Particularly with contact sports including football, repeated concussions are a serious concern. Research has suggested that repeated concussions cause lasting problems including difficulty learning, moving and speaking.
Dandekar is particularly interested in technologies used to prevent and diagnose concussions. In football, advancements in helmets and new tackling procedures are reducing the number of concussions athletes’ experience. Even though concussions are occurring less frequently, Dandekar urges every coach at the school he works with to change their concussion treatment plans to allow for adequate rest and careful rehabilitation.
Athletic Trainers v. Personal Trainers
People often confuse athletic trainers with personal trainers. Dandekar understands this confusion but insists that athletic trainers are more educated because they are licensed medical professionals. Athletic trainers have specialized knowledge about the prevention, recognition, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries. Athletic trainers are authorized to offer medicine and rehabilitation solutions to injured athletes and work in close collaboration with physicians and surgeons.
Athletic trainers have a variety of career options. They can find employment in clinics, hospitals, geriatric facilities, rehabilitation facilities or at the collegiate level. Shree Dandekar chose to work at the high school level because he believes that setting athletes up for success before college is important to their overall health and achievement.
As the number of student athletes continues to grow, Shree Dandekar knows that he will face increased pressure. He plans to continue to learn new ways to treat and prevent injuries to keep athletes safe. This includes careful research into rehabilitation techniques that get athletes back on the field faster and healthier.
When dealing with college-bound athletes, Dandekar assists them with their eligibility. To continue to do this part of his job well, he must constantly read and understand the requirements placed on NCAA athletes. Although it is not part of his job description, Shree Dandekar takes an active interest in the lives of his athletes and plans to continue to establish mentoring and tutoring relationships for students that need his help.
Athletic trainers are role models for the students they serve. Dandekar refuses to consume alcohol on team trips and abstains from tobacco use to set an example for his athletes. Similarly, he always acts in a professional manner when handling questions from the press about high-profile injuries, showing the utmost respect for the school, administration and coaches. In the coming years, Dandekar plans to continue working with young athletes and help them achieve at their highest possible levels.
The future of athletic training will require increased collaboration and Shree is preparing to take those steps. He is learning the burdens placed on physicians and other health care professionals so he can better approach them when collaboration is needed. Shree Dandekar also is working with students to monitor social media and prevent rumor spreading when a player becomes injured.
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