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Athletic Training Month

March is Athletic Training Month! Kai Sheshiki joins us to talk about the Regional High School Athletic Training Program and the services he provides student-athletes at Colton High School.
Athletic Training Month
Kai Seshiki, EdM, LAT, ATC
Kai has experience providing athletic training services in university, professional, and high school athletic settings. He completed his undergraduate degree, then taught athletic training and human anatomy courses at Washington State University while completing a graduate degree. After 6 years teaching at the university level and 2 years teaching at a school of massage, he joined Pullman Regional Hospital's Summit Therapy and Health Services team.

Deborah Howell (Host): Perhaps you've heard of the regional high school athletic training program. But to learn a little bit more about it and also about Athletic Training Month, we'll turn to an expert in the field. Today, we'd like to welcome Kai Seshiki, a certified athletic trainer at Colton High School and a member of Pullman Regional Hospital's Athletic Training Program. Hello, Kai, and welcome.

Kai Seshiki: Hi, thanks for having me.

Deborah Howell (Host): Wonderful to have you. Now, you're an athletic trainer at Colton High School. Could you briefly describe what your job entails?

Kai Seshiki: Well, the essence of athletic training is simply to be at practices, at events and to ensure the health and wellness of your athletic population. The goal is that I get to sit there, watch a game and do absolutely nothing. But the reality is that we're taking on athletes, oh, a good two to three hours before the event starts. We're stretching. We're fixing the small things like, "Ah, my fingernail is blown out" or "My knee is killing me" or "Something's changed," "My back hurts" and there's quick evaluation and resolution tools that we use to try and help these kids be the best athlete they can be.

And then we go through our pre-game. We go through the game. If anything should happen on the floor, it's my responsibility to be out there, if necessary to be out there, evaluate and take care of that person right there and facilitate the best course of action. Can I get this kid up and get them back into the game? Do I need to pull them for a minute? Do I need to call an ambulance? There's a variety of things that happen in sports. You've all watched TV and seen the horrific and the amazing things that can happen in sports. So my job is to be there and facilitate the best possible outcome for our athletes.

Deborah Howell (Host): An essential job. You're a part of the Regional High School Athletic Training Program as well. For listeners who don't know, what does this program provide?

Kai Seshiki: So that program was set into motion by Pullman Regional Hospital and Inland Orthopaedics, which provides a really interesting approach to placing an athletic trainer in a high school. And that means that I get to be at a high school every single day for every single practice and for every single event, which if we look back into our history of providing medical care for athletes, none of us growing up ever got the opportunity to see a real professional that was there the entire time. We maybe got to see a school nurse or, if we were hurt bad enough, we could make it into the doctor at some point.

But having an athletic trainer on site, provides me an exposure to my athletes every single. And that's a huge boon for seeing that knee that it's getting better or it's getting worse. Or, yesterday I saw a foot that it's been bugging this kid on and off. And yesterday, I watched her do something during practice and I said, "Oh, that's why it's bugging her. It's because of this move and this shoe and this thing." So the exposure to an athlete over that given time gives you a really good rapport with them, as well as the opportunity to observe biomechanics and injury forces and all these things that allow you to make a better treatment plan.

That's the essence of the program, is to place a professional in a school that can help facilitate the best outcomes for athletes. You know, a coach is an amazing individual. They know the sport inside and out. But for them to have to be responsible for the medical care of their athletes on top of coaching the sport, that's a lot to ask of someone. So having a trainer there means that trainer can be responsible for, you know, "Oh, I'll pull this kid, I'll bandage them up. I'll treat them right. And either put them back or have a two-second conversation with the coach to say, "I'm sorry, they're done." And that takes that weight off the coach. It lets mom and dad know that somebody is out there absolutely watching for their kids and it's an overall good idea to make sure that we're taking care of the health of our young people.

Deborah Howell (Host): It's just a win-win all around. And also, you're able to provide immediate access to an orthopedic surgeon for your athletes. Could you touch on how important that turnaround time is?

Kai Seshiki: Having access to a professional and other athletic trainers because of this program is what really seals the deal as amazing. Working in a high school as an athletic trainer in the general populace means that you have some ties here and there, but having the program ties means we have the physicians that started it in Inland Orthopaedics, and also we have our physician champions. So, for instance, Dr. Fisher is one of my physician champions who I can call and say, "Hey, doc. I got a kid with a chip tooth. How bad do I need to worry about this?" Snap him a picture and he'll respond and say, "Oh, you're good" or "Bring that in" or he'll give me advice right then and there. That's amazing. I called Dr. Tingstad while he was on vacation to get an x-ray for a kid. And he just said, "All right, I'll look at it." And he used his phone, did a quick look and told me what I needed to know. This access is completely different from say, if you're at home and you stubbed your toe, thinking that maybe you broke it or something, you would have go to the doctor. He would maybe send you a referral and that would go to another doctor. And that's looking at, right now, given the state of things, four to six-week event. Whereas I have the access to call these professionals right then and there and they may not pick up right then and there, but they're going to get back to me within a given period of time. They know that if I'm calling, it's not to chat it's because I've got something going on.

So the opportunity, it decreases that time out for an athlete if they have been removed. It also increases our catching of really problematic issues. If I have a knee that I don't like the way it looks, I can call my fellow trainers. I can call people at Summit Therapy. I can call Dr. Tingstad, Dr. Hazelwood. And I can just say, "I don't know what's going on here. Either I'm not good enough, which gosh, I hate to tell you, it happens" or maybe it's just something that they know a lot better about, which of course they do. They're physicians, they're physical therapists, they're other trainers with different experiences. So it's fair for me to take something I'm not well-versed in and put it into somebody else's hands because the overall outcome needs to be the health of the individual.

Deborah Howell (Host): Absolutely. So I'm thinking you probably end up wearing a lot of different hats in helping students in a variety of different areas. What does your relationship with your student athletes look like?

Kai Seshiki: You know, in a small school, it's really, really common to be a jack-of-all-trades. And that's really kind of the way it has to work in a really small place, because you don't have the funding to hire three different people to do a job. You have one person that does five different jobs. And as an athletic trainer, it's been really neat to work with these kids from, at this point, kindergarten through 12th grade. That's an amazing rapport you get to build with a kid from their first day of education where they see you and go, "Oh, I don't know who that guy is" to maybe their time in fifth grade where they bring you a skinned knee and you tape it up and put some good stuff on it and they're, "Oh, okay. Well, that's pretty cool," by the time they're seniors, where they're asking for letters of recommendation or they're being those future humans that we want to see, and I got to play a small role in that.

It can range. My role can range from driving an equipment van to get us over to state championships, taking care of injuries like I'm supposed to do. Last month, I was a coach for six minutes, because our junior varsity coach was out. Our varsity coach had to go and prep the varsity team and the last person on the bench was me.


Deborah Howell (Host): That was it.

Kai Seshiki: I was a coach for six minutes. I did not do or say anything. I just sat there quietly. And that was the end of that.

Deborah Howell (Host): Now, in a small town, the student athletes often participate in multiple sports. How does this impact the care that you provide?

Kai Seshiki: That is one of the most amazing things about having a small town, is that the same five kids that played basketball, you add a couple extras and you've got your football team. You add a couple extras and you've got your baseball team. But that is by far creating the most difficult athletic training that I have done in my entire career. And it's simply because a kid who plays one sport is typically up at the varsity level because we don't often have enough kids to fill the JV team. Or if we do have enough kids to fill the JV team, it's exactly five. So for basketball or some of the other sports, there's no chance for us to fill the JV team.

So in small schools like mine, we can pull an eighth grader up to play at a varsity level. Now, an eighth grader is I believe 13 to 14 years old and a senior in high school is 17 to 18 years old. Given any football competition, if you send an 18-year-old man against a 13 to 14-year-old child, you stand a chance of some significant differentials. That's going to create some issues. And it's not that we would do that on purpose. It's simply that you don't have a choice. So if you lose an athlete, so you lose one of your varsity athletes, one of your seniors because of an injury, because of a chronic injury, that's a rotator cuff tendonitis, you lose your pitcher. Well, you've also lost your quarterback. You've also lost your point guard. He's the same guy. And if you can't get that rotator cuff under control, you may not just lose your game, you may lose your season. You may bring an eighth grader up who is then in the situation of dealing with going against much larger, much more skilled humans. You have this continuous play that happens at our league, meaning the kids go from one sport to the next sport, to the next sport and then go play summer ball somewhere or they have a summer league or a sports camp at the university, and then they go out and drive truck or work harvest or do all the things that summer entails, and that rolls around from 9th grade into 10th grade into 11th grade, finally into 12th grade. So I get sometimes four and sometimes if they're a skilled eighth grader, five solid years, and that makes the athletic training concept a very difficult challenge.

Deborah Howell (Host): So, Kai, what's your favorite part of your job before we let you go?

Kai Seshiki: So overall, the job creates a great opportunity to work within a very supportive community that is making sure that their kids are taken care of, giving me an exposure to these really neat humans that continue to love sports and do the right things by playing sports. And I get to share in their lifetime experience. So that's the best thing about it.

Deborah Howell (Host): That is beautiful. And Kai, we so appreciate your time and everything you do to help our wonderful students. Thanks so much for being with us today,

Kai Seshiki: Thank you.

Deborah Howell (Host): And you can learn more about this subject, providers and services at Pullman Regional Hospital online at This has been The Health podcast from Pullman Regional. I'm your host, Deborah Howell. Thanks for listening and have yourself a terrific day.