Behind the Team Athletic Trainers

News, Nutrition and Fitness | one year ago

Behind the Team: Athletic Trainer Helps Basketball Star Return to Play

Take an exclusive look into how one of our athletic trainers helped a star student-athlete return to the basketball court.



Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute is home to one of the largest athletic training programs in the nation. Certified athletic trainers are health care professionals who help prevent and manage sports-related injuries. 


As athletic trainers, we are one of the only health care providers who work with patients in all phases of an injury or illness,” says Jim Bazluki, MAEd, LAT, EMT, an Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute certified athletic trainer at Combine Academy in Lincolnton, North Carolina. “We are with them when they are healthy; we evaluate their injuries and illnesses when they occur; we develop their treatment plans and rehabilitation plans; and then get to see them return to their activities fully recovered.”


More than 70% of athletic trainers hold master’s or doctoral degrees. They work closely with other professionals, such as coaches, parents, sports medicine specialists and athletic administrators, to keep student-athletes healthy and safe.


Helping a Basketball Senior Finish His Season Strong 


Bazluki recently helped senior high school basketball player Zhangir “Z” Dyussenov heal from a fourth metacarpal fracture on his shooting hand. Upon Zhangir’s return to campus, Jim evaluated the injured finger and identified a need for further evaluation by team physician, Dr. Jeffrey Ham, for same-day X-rays and medical care. 


Thanks to the seamless care between Bazluki and the Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute sports medicine physician, Zhangir has returned to play and is beginning to participate in post season sessions in preparation for college in the fall.


“Z was one of the first students I met at Combine Academy when I arrived two years ago,” says Bazluki. “It’s been an honor to get to know him and help him with his journey.”


For Zhangir, having an athletic trainer to support him on his road to recovery has been “amazing.”


“It's always good to know that if anything happens, you have an athletic trainer who can help,” says Zhangir. “It doesn't have to be a big injury or anything serious you can get treatment or stretched out if you are sore or not feeling well. I am really thankful to have athletic trainers on campus available all the time.”


During recovery, Zhangir’s desire to play basketball again has been “through the roof.”


“It will definitely be amazing to get back on the floor with my teammates and have fun finishing my high school season before I head to college next year,” he says. “I’m super excited to be back on the floor in time for March Madness.” 


Building Relationships is the Best Part of the Job 


Building relationships with students, coaches and staff is an important part of each athletic trainer’s job


“I enjoy building relationships with the staff and students at my assigned school,” says Bazluki. “Combine Academy is an international boarding school, so over half of my patients are international students. For each interaction, I try to learn about the student, their country, traditions, foods, etc. Spending time with them during each treatment or rehabilitation session is a chance to learn something new and further develop that relationship.”


Zhangir traveled more than 6,400 miles to attend Combine and when he travels home for the summer or holidays, he usually brings Bazluki a gift from his homeland. 


“It's that type of relationship that is my favorite part of my job,” says Bazluki. 


Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Atrium Health Floyd are proud to serve as the official sports medicine provider for more than 100 schools in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.


Athletic Training at-a-Glance


Certified athletic trainers provide a wide variety of services to athletes, teams and schools. They: 


  • Attend all home athletic events and practices. 

  • Provide emergency, on-field and acute medical care.

  • Identify and evaluate concussions and other head injuries. 

  • Evaluate, treat and rehabilitate sports-related illnesses and injuries. 

  • Design and implement injury prevention programs. 

  • Prepare student-athletes for practices and sporting events. 

  • Monitor environmental, field and weather conditions (such as lightning or the heat index).

  • Develop emergency action plans for schools. 

  • Understand general medical conditions, disabilities, health and wellness. 

  • Understand how nutrition can affect sports-related illnesses and injuries. 

  • Maintain communication between coaches, parents and physicians about injuries and illnesses. 

  • Create return-to-play plans for injured athletes.

  • Help student-athletes play at peak performance.


To learn more about our expert orthopedic & sports medicine team or to schedule an appointment, visit: Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute.