Archive for September, 2012

An In Depth Look with the Performance Medicine Supervisor for Cirque du Soleil

Friday, September 28th, 2012

An In Depth Look with… James Knue, ATC

Describe your setting:

I work in a performing arts setting as the Performance Medicine Supervisor for Cirque du Soleil’s production of The Beatles LOVE at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  This setting encompasses caring for acrobats and dancers from around the world, many who have been Olympians in their respective sports. In addition to the daily medical care that is provided, our department is also responsible for the emergency planning and execution, performance enhancement and ergonomic analysis

Cirque du Soleil’s Performance Medicine Departments, which are at each and every production worldwide, provides athletic training services for the Artists with a staff of Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, Pilates instructors and massage therapists.

How long have you worked in this setting?

This is my 13th year working in performance arts.   I have worked in both the resident shows division (shows permanently stationed in one place) and with the touring show division traveling through New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, United States and Mexico.

Describe your typical day:

 When I am on the opening shift my day begins around 1:30pm. Once my opening duties are complete (safety/emergency box checks, review of physician progress notes and set up of performance medicine treatment area) the rehabilitation sessions for those artists who are injured and out of show will begin.  After  the long term rehabilitations are complete, the rest of the afternoon is spent with treatments, backstage and stage  staffing (similar to that of staffing an athletic practice) of trainings, meetings and filing reports such as the daily artist status update so that Stage Management can cast the show for that night.  

The late shift person begins around 3:00pm and performs treatments, emergency services and administrative duties as needed.   Shows begin at 7:00pm and we cover backstage and in the training room in case of emergencies occurring during the show.  Between shows we have an hour to do treatments, advise the coaches, stage management and the artistic director about the status on any artists injured during the first show and do any charting that has not already been done.  The early person leaves at the start of the second show.   The second show begins at 9:30pm.  The time during second show is spent as the first with duties backstage and in the training room if any injuries occur as well finishing up any charting not already done.  After shows final care is given for any injuries that occurred in the 2nd show.

End of show reports are prepared and sent as well as the prep and cleaning of the treatment area are done with the day ending around 11:30pm.  In addition to these duties there are monthly planning sessions for our emergency procedures trainings.  An afternoon every month is dedicated to working with the emergency response team practicing the skills and techniques necessary to safely extract the injured artist from their apparatus or props to safely transport them off stage and to the hospital if that is required. There are Artistic Team meetings, Safety Committee meetings, Performance Medicine department meetings spaced throughout the week and month.

What do you like about your position?

I have spent most of my career trying to push the envelope for athletic training and Athletic Trainers. Moving into the performing arts areas was one of these moves. Being exposed  to the theater world required learning a whole new vocabulary and perspective. I had to adapt what I had done for many years to this new world where there are no off seasons for rest and recovery, the artists perform the equivalent of a double header 5 days a week,  47 weeks a year.  There is no second team and every artist who is not on stage because of injury diminishes the visual spectacle and experience of the audience.  This challenges the Athletic Trainer to be efficient and effective in every treatment and encounter with the artist.  You have to reexamine the standard approach and find new and unique ways of applying the standard ideas to achieve your goal. The artists, our clients, are challenging their bodies in ways that expand what we consider normal human movement.  It is up to us as Athletic Trainers to raise our level to that of the performers and expand what we do to help them achieve this and make it sustainable.  These daily challenges make each day interesting.

Cirque du Soleil is an international company.  Where else would you get the opportunity to work with the best talent in the world from all over the world?  LOVE has artists from 18 countries covering 6 continents and another 5 or 10 countries represented on the support staff.  This cultural diversity creates a rich social and work environment that would be difficult to match anywhere.  This cultural diversity also challenges you in caring for the injured. You have to be able to be creative and sensitive to cultural differences and traditional healing practices. How do you sell treatments when compared to the traditional herbal medicines of a Mongolian contortionist who is concerned that her back pain may be career threatening or with a middle aged acrobat who has successfully treated their ankle sprains in the past with cabbage and honey poultices.  Each day is new, with different challenges and goals. The work is never boring or routine.

What do you dislike about your position?

The biggest challenge for me has been adjusting to the swing shift work schedule.  I am not a night person so working late and wanting to be up early for my kids each morning has challenged my sleep habits and made some days difficult to get through.

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young Athletic Trainer looking at this setting?

There is nothing unique about working in the performing arts.  Treating an injured ankle on a dancer or acrobat is not substantially different from an ankle of a football or basketball player except for maybe the size of the foot.  What you need to learn is the vocabulary of the performer so that you can intelligently discuss their injury and their recovery and return.  You need to have strong clinical reasoning skills as well as a large vocabulary of treatment techniques and manual therapy skills that you can apply when you are presented with that different and unique situation.  As we all learned how to take care of a volleyball player by attending matches and practices spend some time in the theater world, volunteering your services if necessary, so that you learn that vocabulary and gain credibility with your knowledge.

Where is AT Education Going?

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Over the summer the NATA Board of Directors approved the document “Future Directions in Athletic Training Education.” This document represents recommendations from the Executive Committee on Education for the direction of education.  This document also had input from the NATA Board of Directors, the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), the NATA Foundation (Foundation), and the Board of Certification (BOC). As stated in the document, representatives from each group have provided input into the development of this document. This document has 14 new recommendations and addresses the 17 recommendations from 1996.

There have been many new documents/changes in education lately as this Future Directions document came out over the summer, the 5th Edition of the competencies came out earlier as well as the new CAATE standards. I will admit it is a little overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong change is good and we are moving forward.

So where is AT Education going?

Some of the highlights include an emphasis on outcomes (BOC pass rate, learning outcomes), moving to a healthcare model of education (aligning and studying along with other healthcare providers such as physical therapist, occupation therapists, nurses), and facility accreditation such as the Joint Commission which accredits hospitals. There are more but those are just a few. I urge you to read through the Future Directions as well as the CAATE Standards. I know the standards are a bit dry but it will give you an idea as to the minimum requirements of programs. From your perspective where do you think AT Education is going?  

Written by: Stacy Walker, PhD, ATC

Athletic Trainers Supporting Olympic Athletes

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

 They do not win medals and no one knows them by name, but they are there playing a big part in the Olympics. Participating 5-7 days a week through strength training, afternoon practice, treatments and evening practice, these are Athletic Trainers (ATs) who are supporting the Olympics by being a part of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sports Medicine Staff. Just last month, we watched and cheered for Team USA in London. Reaching this milestone is neither easy nor is it earned without dedicating your life to the craft of athletic training. The competitors rely on the expertise and skill of people, ATs, behind the scenes.

Dr. Karen Bloch working with water polo player.

Dr. Karen Bloch was officially named part of the USOC Sports Medicine Staff for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She was a National Governing Body selection as the Head Athletic Trainer and chiropractor for the USA Men’s Water Polo Team and was selected for the 2012 London Olympics.“I loved working with the other medical practitioners who share the same passion for treating elite athletes and who do it for the pure reason of wanting to be a part of the Olympic movement,” shared Dr. Bloch. “I also really enjoyed witnessing the USA women’s water polo team’s first gold medal. Hearing the national anthem playing and seeing the United States of America flag raised to the top tier of the stadium brings chills through my spine. What a great day for USA water polo!”

Katie Kaschub, MS, ATC, CSCS, became involved with the USOC after graduate school when she applied and was selected for the fellowship program at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. She spent a year there working as an AT for a wide variety of athletes and had the unique opportunity of working with Paralympic Athletes. Last summer, a full time AT position opened up with USA Field Hockey where she went through an intense “trial period” which included an international tour and another month of being an AT with the team day-in and day-out.

Fortunately, Kaschub was officially hired by USA Field Hockey just prior to the Pan Am Games where the Women’s Team won the Gold Medal in an upset of top-ranked Argentina. “The exciting victory for the team meant that they had qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games. In that moment, it also justified all of my hard work, stress, financial sacrifice, and the emotional decision to leave my job and move away from my boyfriend, to pursue the Olympic Dream,” said Kaschub.

Dr. Karen Bloch, Katie Kaschub and Shannon Walker working at the London Olympics.

Jody Murray, ATC, is an Acupuncturist from Brookfield, Connecticut also worked at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista on a volunteer rotation. While there, she was introduced to work with the USA Archery team. She was selected to travel with the team on two trips, the World Cup in Shanghai and the Pan Am Trials in Guadalajara. As a dual-credentialed Athletic Trainer, she had to balance her private practice as she was gone for three weeks.

“These two international trips were such opportunities! I introduced a lot of the athletes and coaches to acupuncture, which was pretty cool. I made some life-long friends, which is, of course priceless. Most importantly, I got to challenge myself in a way I never had before. It was me and only me, from start to finish, providing all the medical advice and treatment. A lot of pressure, but a lot of reward,” Murray said.

Dr. Sara Cuperus worked with Murray at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista and was the only chiropractor who was also BOC certified working during her two week rotation. Her experiences including spending time in the athletic training facility and supported all the athletes from Archery, BMX, Women’s Bobsled, Track and Field, Men’s and Women’s Sprint Kayak, and Men’s and Women’s Junior National Volleyball.

(Left to right) Jody Murray and Dr. Sara Cuperus at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center.

“Don’t be afraid to put your time in, even if that means supporting local events like races and such,” Cuperus advices to young professionals, “Each of those athlete interactions and experiences will teach you something that you can take with you and use in the future.”

These ATs also recommended continuing education and encourages courses that teach hands-on skills and anything to set an AT apart. Bloch thought Muscle Energy, Functional Movement Screening, Kinesiology Taping and Active Release Techniques are very valuable tools.

Kaschub noted, “It is absolutely imperative that you use continuing education to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest skills, therapies, and modalities.  Like all professional athletes, they will “shop around” for the next best thing, but if you are informed on these techniques they will hopefully seek out your advice first." 

To represent your country on a world scale is possibly the greatest honor in sports. We thank all ATs for representing the USA and their tremendous work with athletes to support the Olympic Dream.


Written By: Brittney Ryba

Concussions in the News

Friday, September 21st, 2012

On April 14, 2011, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 260-The Concussion Awareness Act.  The Nebraska State Athletic Trainers' Association (NSATA) would like to express our appreciation for the support and passage of this important piece of legislation.  However, the NSATA would also like to reiterate that the battle to increase awareness and decrease the occurrence of concussion in youth sports has only just begun.  

On the national front, concussions are in the news more than ever before.  During an interview on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Sharon Rogers asks, “Would you drop a child off at a pool or an ocean that didn't have a lifeguard? And if the answer is no, then you wouldn't drop a child off at a football game or a football practice without an Athletic Trainer.”  Rogers is an assistant professor of health education at East Carolina University.

Some states in the United States, such as Hawaii and North Carolina, are or have already moved towards requiring an Athletic Trainer (AT) in every high school.  At the same time, several states, including Nebraska, are mentioned in national news, including the New York Times, for failing to provide student-athletes access to ATs.

While more education about concussions and sports injuries is becoming available.  The best defense is an AT. The AT’s primary focus is to keep student-athletes and those participating in youth sports safe.

ATs save lives.  Many have heard Brady Beran’s story, when he was hit in the head during the Lincoln East vs. Lincoln Southeast football game on September 24, 2004.  Veteran AT,  Mike McCuistion, ATC, was on the sideline when the injury occurred and took action.  Recently, Brady has graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

During the 2011 football season, Nebraska ATs saved the lives of many student-athletes.  In September 2011, Don Watt, ATC, at Chadron State College took action when Dominic Morris was tackled and suffered a bleed around his brain.  Also in September 2011, a Nebraska City High School football player suffered a spinal injury.  Alex Schnitzer, ATC, Janice Saunders, ATC, and a team physician were at the varsity contest.  They assessed the situation, provided immediate care at the scene; spine boarded the athlete, and transported him to the local Emergency Room for diagnostic testing.  Elsewhere in Nebraska, Pierce High School Senior football player Shelton Dvorak suffered a brain hemorrhage when he was hit during the Pierce vs. Albion Boone Central football game on September 30, 2011.  ATs  Adam Hervert, ATC, and Aliscia Benes, ATC, and physician Brad Hupp, MD, took action to save the student-athlete’s life.  Dvorak was life flighted to BryanLGH West Medical Center in Lincoln where he was in a coma for five days.  Dvorak admits he was lucky to have survived.

ATs are THE health care professional to provide sports medicine services to student athletes.  Athletic Trainers should be part of every high school medical team. 

All too often, athletics programs ignore providing appropriate medical care for secondary school aged athletes.  While Bob Colgate, the assistant director of the National Federation of State High School Associations acknowledges budgetary restraints are often the reason; Robert Sallis, of the American College of Sports Medicine, explained “It’s crazy.  High schools hire a zillion coaches before they wonder about hiring a(n) (athletic) trainer. If you hire a head football coach, that next hire should be an athletic trainer.”  Brooke de Lench, Founder of, highlights the critical importance of athletic trainers and agrees.

ATs take responsibility and reduce risk and liability.  I invite you to participate in a Call to Action to ensure youth athletes have access to qualified health care professionals every day. 

Written By: Jessica O’Neel, MS Ed, ATC


An In Depth Look with the Co-Manager of Athletico's Endurance Program

Friday, September 14th, 2012

An In Depth Look with…  Ali Kotek, ATC, NASM-PES

Describe your setting:

I am employed by Athletico Physical Therapy in Chicago and recently became the Co-Manager of Athletico’s Endurance Program. I have a very unique position that allows me to use my athletic training skills in a variety of ways. I assist with finding medical staff  for a number of endurance races, expos, and injury prevention lectures that our company provides for various running groups and stores in the Chicagoland area. I also oversee scheduling, assist in setting up our tent/booth at events and expos, and work alongside our Marketing Department with contract negotiations. Through this position I also have the opportunity to work with Chicago’s most notable physicians through event staffing, lecture presentations, and clinical shadowing. In addition to my Endurance Program administration work/coverage, I assist with patient care at one of our outpatient physical therapy clinics, and have athletic training field responsibility with the Chicago Police Enforcers Football team and other various teams in the Chicagoland area. 

How long have you worked in this setting?

I started with Athletico seven years ago. My first position was working outreach at high school in downtown Chicago in August of 2005. In July of 2007, I became the Regional Athletic Training Coordinator of downtown Chicago.  In this position I helped to oversee our high school, college, and other various sports team affiliations in the region. I worked with our Athletic Trainers (ATs), as well as working with the Athletic Directors and staff at these affiliations. I recently stepped into my new role as Co-Manager of the Endurance Program in April of 2012. 

Describe your typical day:

As many ATs might experience, I never seem to have a typical day. Two mornings a week I assist with patient care at one of Athletico’s outpatient physical therapy clinics in Chicago’s South Loop. Typically in a week’s time I also have the opportunity to shadow physicians that specialize in working with endurance athletes. The other remaining days I spend time working on my Endurance Program administrative duties.   During the running season, which is March through October in Chicago, I assist with setting up numerous races and expos that we serve (Chicago Marathon, Chicago Triathlon, Chicago ½ Marathon, Shamrock Shuffle, and the Rock and Roll ½ Marathon to name a few). I also travel and cover the Chicago Police Enforcers Football team’s games during the spring season.  

What do you like about your position?

I really enjoy the variety in my schedule. I love working in the field, but I also enjoy being able to see the entire “patient experience” through working at a physician’s office and then assisting with patients in the outpatient physical therapy setting.   I love that I can apply my athletic training skills in a variety of ways each week. Being able to work in an assortment of settings has allowed me to help educate a wide range of people about our athletic training profession.  

What do you dislike about your position?

It is hard to find something that I dislike about my position, as I feel very fortunate that I can go to work each day knowing that I am doing something that I really enjoy doing. As an AT, I know that many nights, weekends, and holidays will be spent staffing a sporting event…but once that game winning touchdown is made, it makes you completely forget you are working on a Saturday night!    

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young Athletic Trainer looking at this setting?

My advice for a young AT looking into this setting would be to not limit yourself to what you are accustomed to. Over the last 8 years, I have been able to work with a variety of athletes/sports including, but not limited to, football players, runners, performing artists, rugby players, US Soccer players, and baseball players. I realized very quickly that to become a great AT, you need to be able to adapt to any sport, activity, or situation. If you keep your mind open, you will have many more opportunities come your way.

Make Your Vote Count!

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Which candidate will you vote for? BOC Certified Athletic Trainers (ATs) have the responsibility of electing AT Directors who serve on the BOC Board of Directors. The BOC Board of Directors leads transformations in our profession and for the certification industry. Be Certain.™ to check your email to cast your vote in the 2012 AT Director Election. Online voting began September 6th and ends October 18th.

Every non-profit organization like the BOC must have a board of directors. But, beyond this legal requirement, a well-informed and well-trained board is absolutely essential. To provide accountability and ensure protection of the public, a nine member volunteer board of directors governs the BOC and includes six AT Directors, one Physician Director, one Public Director and one Corporate/Educational Director. 

BOC Board of Director responsibilities include:

  • Supervision, control and direction of the affairs of the BOC as well as its committees and publications
  • Determination of BOC policies or policy changes
  • Promotion of BOC objectives
  • Supervision over disbursements of BOC funds

Meet the 2012 candidates and check your email for your official ballot code from Survey and Ballot Systems.

Participate in professional responsibility, take action and vote!

An In Depth Look with an Athletic Trainer in Product Development

Friday, September 7th, 2012

An In Depth Look with… Chad Stephens, LAT, ATC          

Describe your setting:

I am a product manager for Cramer Products.  I am responsible for developing new products that Athletic Trainers (ATs) use on a daily basis in the athletic training facility, on the field, or wherever the job takes them.  Many of our products are field tested by ATs and then improved based on our communication with them.  We are continually looking for ways to improve products that will make the job of an AT  easier.  Cramer Products has a long tradition with the NATA and will continue to support the athletic training community. 

How long have you worked in this setting?

I am currently in my first year with Cramer Products.  For the past 10 years I have been a certified and licensed AT working with high school athletes.  I hope those experiences will help me in developing new products that prove to be beneficial to ATs.  Many ATs learn from field experience.  I am taking the same approach.  We want to make great products that ATs want to use.  The only way to do that is by getting it in their hands.

Describe your typical day:

My job consists of a normal business hours.  I am responsible for reviewing products, making sure they are going to help the AT in their daily responsibilities.   I oversee the marketing strategies to bring the product into the market.  This includes how things are packaged, artwork, quality of materials, field testing, etc.  Although I am not in the field on a daily basis, I am speaking with ATs on a regular basis.  It is important for me to not only use my experiences, but those of other ATs to make sure we create a functional product that the ATs want to have.

What do you like about your position?

As an AT, I was rewarded to see the athletes compete at a high level on a daily basis.  When they were successful, I felt like I had a small part in aiding with their success.  It is no different in the business world.  If I can come up with things that are proven to be helpful and people are excited to use, then I feel that I am doing my job to the best of my ability.

What do you dislike about your position?

I will miss the competition aspect of athletic training.  Being on the field and helping athletes strive to achieve their goals is something I miss. Knowing that I am working for a great company with a long history in the athletic training community, makes me feel I am still a part of that community.

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young athletic trainer looking at this setting?

There are many networks involving athletic training.  Keep the door open to new experiences.  As you gain more experience, your opportunities will grow as well.