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Sports Medicine

File photo of College of the Canyons 2021-22 sports medicine staff.

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College of the Canyons student-athletes have a sports medicine program that is responsible not only for helping players make speedy recoveries from injuries, but for preventing injuries from occurring. This is accomplished through utilizing diagnostic equipment along with the latest methods of prevention and care of injuries. Student-athletes are carefully examined before they participate in any sport, to ensure early detection of potential problems. 

Athletic trainers Sarah Ehrsam and Erick Buitrago monitor injuries and rehabilitation for all Cougar athletes. Ehrsam and Buitrago arrange physical examinations and consultations for student-athletes, while also overseeing the associate of science in sports medicine degree program. 

Dr. Ronald Karzel from Southern California Orthopedic Institute is COC’s Team Orthopedic Surgeon. He directly supervises all sideline medical coverage and evaluates Cougar orthopedic injuries. He also performs orthopedic surgeries and supervises rehabilitation.

Dr. Andrew Blecher from Southern California Orthopedic Institute is the Cougar’s primary care physician. He provides medical examinations and diagnosis on the sidelines and in the athletic training room. With a specialization in sports medicine, he is the physician to whom COC refers non-surgical injuries and illnesses. Dr. Blecher also oversees the College of the Canyons concussion protocol.

What is an athletic trainer? 
According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, athletic trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians. The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Students who want to become certified athletic trainers must earn a degree from an accredited athletic training curriculum. Accredited programs include formal instruction in areas such as injury/illness prevention, first aid and emergency care, assessment of injury/illness, human anatomy and physiology, therapeutic modalities, and nutrition. Classroom learning is enhanced through clinical education experiences. More than 70 percent of certified athletic trainers hold at least a master’s degree.


COC Sports Medicine logo.