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Area’s popular outdoor sports create diverse cases for Appalachian’s injury clinic

Kimmel_t.jpgBOONE—When students at Appalachian State University are injured playing intramural sports, or participating in recreational activities such as skiing and snowboarding, they often turn to Chuck Kimmel for help.

Kimmel is the director of the injury clinic in M.S. Shook Student Health Service, a position he has held since 2007. Kimmel is a licensed athletic trainer (LAT) and certified athletic trainer (ATC). He recently was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Hall of Fame “The Hall of Fame is filled with luminaries and real pioneers who have contributed to the profession,” he said. “Being able to contribute to the association as a past officer and in other capacities, and helping students is the greatest reward.”

Kimmel came to Appalachian after a 25-year career as head athletic trainer and assistant athletic director at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. He also worked at East Tennessee State University as an assistant athletic trainer.

He became interested in athletic training as a career while in high school. “I wasn’t an athlete, but I loved athletics and wanted to get involved, so I started out as a team manager in high school and then assisted in the athletic training room at the University of Kentucky,” he said. “I’m an accidental athletic trainer, but once I got involved, I really found out that I loved it and I have been blessed to have a good career out of it.”

Kimmel earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and his master’s degree from East Tennessee State University.

While Health Service has had an athletic trainer on staff for 14 years, Kimmel is the first person to hold the position full time. He says it’s the perfect job because it allows him to work in a scenic area, to teach students in the university’s athletic training program and remain active in the practice of athletic training.

Appalachian’s location in a year-round recreation area means Kimmel’s patients often are victims of the High Country’s popular outdoor sports.

“We see students with injuries from outdoor activities year-round,” he said. “In winter, it’s snowboarding and skiing; in spring and fall, it’s rock climbing and bouldering. That’s what makes this job so exciting. The patient population is so diverse. It’s not just football or basketball players or intercollegiate athletes.”

That’s not to say that the university’s popular club sports and intramural programs aren’t accident free. The most common injuries are to ankles, knees and shoulders. “Treatment and rehabilitation are the primary activities of the injury clinic,” Kimmel said. He estimates half of the injuries require five or fewer visits, but some may require treatment for up to a year, such as a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that can require seven months or more of rehabilitation.
Kimmel credits the support of past and current Health Service directors as well as administrators in the Division of Student Development for the success of the injury clinic.

“Athletic training is a new area to collegiate student health services,” Kimmel said. “The students really need our services and I think the numbers here at Appalachian bear that out. The university has made a real commitment to providing health care to the students. They get top-flight care. Not many institutions offer that, or for the low price students pay through their student health fee.”