Archive for February, 2014

National Athletic Training Month 2014! We’ve Got Your Back

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

March is here, and so is National Athletic Training Month (NATM). It’s time put away the khaki pants and break out the khaki shorts, and it’s also time to start promoting our profession and spread awareness about all the work Athletic Trainers (ATs) do. Most people hang the posters and signs and tell people that it is National Athletic Training Month, which is great. Information on this can be found on the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) website (

But I want to share some ideas of different ways to educate people about what ATs do and know.

Secondary School: Hold a raffle/quiz for athletic training themed prizes. Create a quiz for students, staff and parents, and require that they score 90% or so in order to enter the raffle. The prizes can be first aid kits, extra water bottles, towels, etc. You can also use this as a fundraising opportunity and sell raffle tickets.

Colleges and Universities: Host an Open Athletic Training Facility Night where students, faculty and staff, and local community members can come in and see what an athletic training facility looks like, how it runs and what ATs actually do. AT Students: Set up an evaluation booth at the school’s campus recreational center. Have a preceptor supervise and offer free evaluations and rehabilitation exercises for other students, faculty and staff.

Hospital and Clinical: Hold a free taping clinic to the local community (coaches, athletes, etc.). This will help them understand part of your background, and you can inform them about what else you can do to help be physically fit and stay safe.

Professional Sports: Contact your team’s PR department and inform then that it is NATM. Offer ideas for articles they can write or videos they can show. Examples are, “A Day in the Life of (insert name), The Athletic Trainer for (insert team name)” and the video, “Behind the Scenes with a Certified Athletic Trainer.” (

Occupational Health: Change your signature in your email account. Add a small picture of the NATM logo and possibly a little sentence about ATs. For example: Athletic Trainers (ATs) are healthcare 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. Taken from

Military: Create a bulletin board for NATM and have a section that introduces yourself as an AT, what you do in the setting and a little bit about yourself (work experience, family life, how you improve patient outcomes, etc.)

Performing Arts: Set up a “Trade Places for a Day” with one of your performers. Have the performer try to teach you some of the activities that they do, and you can teach/show them what it is like to be an AT.

Public Awareness: Contact your local government official and try to get a proclamation in the town or county you work/live in. NATA has information on how to do this with sample proclamations. This can be found on the NATA’s website (

Physician Extender: Ask your physician if it would be okay to wear a shirt or scrubs that say “Athletic Training” or the name of the college or university you graduated before you became an AT. When patients ask about your shirt inform them about NATM and what an AT does. In the end, anything you do to help promote the athletic training profession will be great.

Written By: Brian Bradley, MS, ATC, LAT, CSCS    


AEDs and Athletic Trainers Restart Hearts Saving Lives

Monday, February 24th, 2014


Colleen Shotwell, PhD, LAT, ATC

Colleen Shotwell, PhD, LAT, ATC, reached for her automated external defibrillator (AED) and took the steps she has been trained over and over to do. Shotwell, Coordinator of Athletic Training Services at East Stroudsburg University of PA, was providing sports medicine coverage for a women’s basketball game in November 2013, when a visiting team’s athlete, with a history of sickle cell trait, started experiencing exertional sickling, a potentially life-threatening emergency.

Aided by graduate assistant Megan Fowler and athletic training student Denise Smith, Shotwell monitored the athlete’s vital signs and administered oxygen. Within moments, the athlete became unresponsive, and the three immediately applied the AED. The device analyzed, no shock was advised and they were instructed to begin CPR. By the time paramedics arrived, Shotwell stated the AED had analyzed three times and they went through roughly 8-12 cycles of CPR. Due to Shotwell’s swift actions, the athlete was conscious and able to nod and squeeze her hand before being transported to the hospital.

It was only a few years earlier, in December 2010, that Shotwell assisted ESU Athletic Trainer Wendy Deitrich when a young man collapsed playing basketball at a campus sports facility. The AED administered a shock that restarted the heart and saved the life of that 22-year-old student. Not long after that incident, the same AED was used to save an individual attending a graduation ceremony in the Koehler Field House.

There is no question that the AED should be part of an Athletic Trainer’s emergency action plan. "Every Athletic Trainer has an AED accompany them, and the university has approximately 30 devices accessible on campus," Shotwell said. According to the American Heart Association, over 250,000 people die every year from sudden cardiac arrest, but up to one in every five of those deaths could be prevented with a defibrillator. When shocks from an AED and CPR are provided within 3-5 minutes by the first person on the scene, survival rates are as high as 48-74%.

East Stroudsburg University is grateful to the Gregory W. Moyer Defibrillator Fund, which has allowed the school to adequately supply the campus with AEDs and successfully respond to cardiac emergencies on school grounds. On December 2, 2000, high school basketball player Greg Moyer collapsed during halftime in the locker room. He died shortly thereafter. There was no AED present, and he was about 20 miles from the nearest hospital. Greg’s parents, John and Rachel Moyer, have made it their life’s mission to see that AEDs are placed in schools and public places in all 50 states.

Review the NATA’s position statement on preventing sudden death, including exertional sickling and sudden cardiac arrest, here: National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Preventing Sudden Death in Sports.

Written By:

Jennifer Striggle-Young, MEd, LAT, ATC


National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Last fall, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) released a position statement regarding the development of a plan to recognize and refer student athletes with mental health concerns. One of these issues is eating disorders. National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 23rd through March 1st.

Eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness. Medical complications from these disorders can affect every organ system, from a mild dysfunction to death depending upon the severity and length of the disorder. Early recognition and treatment is ideal but not always possible. Since the fall of 2012, I have worked with The Victory Program at McCallum Place Eating Disorders Treatment Center, in St. Louis MO. The Victory Program is the first program designed specifically to treat athletes with eating disorders.

In the world of sport, it is often believed that a lower body fat percentage will improve performance. This belief can lead to many athletes developing disordered eating patterns and/or an eating disorder. Yes, sometimes sports performance will improve or not be negatively affected, but it is only a matter of time before the adverse effects begin to develop. Oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and running speed will eventually decrease due to malnutrition and dehydration. Inadequate carbohydrate intake can cause earlier glycogen depletion, which causes fatigue, and increased use of protein as fuel. Inadequate protein intake can lead to generalized muscle wasting and weakness. This can lead to musculoskeletal injuries, as the damaged tissues are not able to rebuild and repair. This creates low energy availability, which leads to bone loss and endocrine complications. An eating disorder can be considered an injury; specifically, it is a metabolic injury.

Recognizing an athlete with an eating disorder is not an easy task, particularly when some athletes can initially perform well despite the disorder. Eventually, these behaviors cause serious health complications, both physically and psychologically. Some common medical complications of eating disorders include poor circulation; hormonal and electrolyte imbalances; malnutrition; dehydration; heart, liver and kidney damage; osteopenia; osteoporosis; and an increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Eating disorders are often accompanied by depression, anxiety, obsessive thinking, problems with concentration, impaired judgment and poor emotional regulation.

As Athletic Trainers (ATs), we make an athlete’s health our priority; therefore, being able to recognize and identify disordered eating or an eating disorder is essential. Early detection can lead to early intervention which is the best predictor of recovery. Common symptoms and signs that an AT may notice include:

  • Longer recovery time needed after activity
  • Increased fatigue and level of perceived exertion
  • Difficulty with tapering or days off
  • Prolonged or additional training
  • Overuse injuries or more frequent injuries
  • Decreased muscle function, coordination, speed and energy
  • Slowed heart rate and low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Rigid or restrictive eating
  • Avoidance of water or excessive water intake
  • Poor body image
  • Perfectionism
  • Increased isolation
  • Poorer interactions with teammates and coaches

Athletes with eating disorders should seek treatment, as without treatment recovery is unlikely. Over time, the disorder will cause physical and psychological issues. Postponing treatment can lead to further complications. When to refer an athlete for treatment and what type of treatment can be a hard decision; having a network of other healthcare professionals – including physicians, dieticians and psychologists – can be very helpful. Indications that intensive treatment is necessary include:

  • Weight below 85% of expected body weight based on height
  • Caloric intake is low and athlete resists increasing caloric intake
  • Symptoms worsen and health is compromised
  • Athlete is experiencing potentially serious medical complications such as syncope, bradycardia, prolonged QT interval, etc.
  • Athlete trains excessively despite injury or limitations recommended by medical staff
  • Athlete is engaging in self-harming behaviors and/or has suicidal thoughts
  • Psychiatric or psychological symptoms have prevented progress
  • Progress is not made on an outpatient basis after six weeks of treatment

Ultimately, if an athlete is in treatment for an eating disorder, you as an AT can play a role in the athlete’s treatment and recovery. The best approach is to be proactive in your efforts, establish a good rapport with the athlete’s treatment team, be supportive and find out more information in regard to the treatment plan. It is likely you can and will play a role in the management team that helps carry out the treatment plan for the athlete. Ideally, a treatment team would use coaches and ATs as resources when making decisions in regard to the athlete’s return to training and/or competition.

To learn more about eating disorders, visit the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at . It is a great a resource for information, with an online screening tool and information packages designed specifically for educators, coaches and ATs. To learn more about the Victory Program at McCallum Place, visit

Written By: Lauren Baumer, MS Ed, ATC


Working with Olympians: Athletic Trainer Reaches Career Gold

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Gene Schmitz, PT, OCS, ATC, MS, CSCS, has been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer since 1991. His traditional role is Rehab Director and Athletic Trainer (AT) at the Pella Regional Health Center. Gene has volunteered providing athletic training and physical therapy services at the local, national and international level since finishing school in order to help those in need.

"I applied for the volunteer program through the United States Olympic Training Center (USOTC), was invited to the training center for two weeks in the summer of 1994 and returned for the Olympic Festival in 1995.  I was invited to return to the USOTC in Colorado Springs again this past January," said Gene.

At the USOTC, Gene spends much of his time providing sports medicine services to the athletes in men’s and women’s freestyle, Greco-Roman wrestling, gymnastics and tennis.  In the clinic, he could treat athletes from a number of sports, from boxing to fencing to Paralympic skiing to sledge hockey.  He enjoys talking to coaches and athletes to learn more about the biomechanics of sports he is not as familiar with, such as fencing or archery.

Gene obtained a certification in Strength and Conditioning and became a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist. "Gaining a true understanding in anatomy and biomechanics gives one a great foundation to treat athletes," Gene said in regard to continuing education. "Learning more in clinical decision making gives one a sense of direction so ATs can apply the treatment of choice.  A background in Evidence Based Practice allows ATs to apply their knowledge and get the desired outcome, keeping athletes healthy and returning them back to their sport as soon as possible."

Gene shared that being at the USOTC was an awesome experience working with athletes at the elite level. "The best part was to share knowledge with other healthcare professionals. The healthcare team at the training center was truly multidisciplinary to allow many skills to keep all those involved moving toward optimal performance," said Gene.

Learn more about Gene Schmitz and his experiences, as Dr. Bob Leonard of KNIA/KRLS News goes "In Depth" on this recording:

Written By:

Brittney Ryba

Athletic Trainers Who Are Married to Each Other and the Profession

Friday, February 14th, 2014

It is Valentine’s Day – watch out for Cupid’s arrow. What happens when people with the same career passion fall in love and marry each other? Athletic Trainers (ATs) can have demanding schedules. Working with patients – whether in an office, healthcare or traditional athletic setting – while keeping up with professional development and being involved in family life, makes it all a juggling act.

Here, we’ll meet three couples who juggle these responsibilities every day.


Bill and Danielle after the football game where their two schools played against each other. Danielle's students showed support for her by hanging a banner that said "Our Athletic Trainer is Cuter than Your Athletic Trainer."

Danielle and Bill Kleber have been married for 7 ½ years and have a baby daughter named Ruby, two Boxers named Rock and Tipper and a cat named Annie. They initially met when Danielle was a graduate assistant and Bill was an athletic training student. They stayed in the same group of friends for many years after that, and then their friendship turned to something more.

Danielle shares what it is like to be married to another AT. "It is frustrating at times because life rarely goes as planned, but it’s also rewarding because the other person usually understands why," she said. "We definitely have some interesting dinner conversations. You know you are married to an AT when both of you point out or rewind the injuries on TV. It also means that family vacations are going to district convention or the national meeting."

The secret to managing their schedule is that Danielle and Bill have a weekly family planning meeting every Sunday (a tradition that started even before they had their daughter). They make a game plan for the upcoming week, so they know who is going to let the dogs out or run certain errands. Now, having a child in the mix makes those meetings even more important. The biggest tool for them is being flexible and having the ability to adjust throughout the week. ATs are great problem solvers, and that comes in handy for the household.

"We have a lot of ‘switch the kid, high five and go‘ in random parking lots, and a common phrase around our house is ‘on your own’ when referring to dinner," said Danielle.

The biggest challenges for Danielle is when she expects Bill to practice athletic training the way she does, and she has to remember that he handles things differently. She also thinks it’s important to be fine spending time by yourself because schedules rarely match up, which leaves you hanging out without the other person often.

"Being married to an AT means we have closets full of polo shirts and do one load of laundry each week that is just khakis!" said Danielle.


Michael and Jessica Roberts on their wedding day on February 16, 2013.

Jessica and Michael Roberts will celebrate their one year wedding anniversary on February
16th. They met at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and have a tuxedo cat named Princess. Both work in non-traditional settings with fairly structured office hours. In addition, Jessica works many club sports and high school events during evenings and weekends. Michael teaches in the evening a couple nights each week. While they stay busy, they have the luxury of resting their heads on their own pillows at home each night.

"Planning ahead and communication are key! We share our schedules with each other and find time to spend together, even if it is as simple as running errands together," said Michael about managing their busy schedule.

Jessica and Michael are friends with many married couples who are in the athletic training profession. They see this as a big advantage because they don’t have to defend the other person’s work schedule when they are working nights and weekends. The biggest challenge is the helplessness of having to work when they want to spend time with family. Their advice to other AT couples is to have a date once a week and take that time to reconnect.


Chris and Stephanie Nelson.

Stephanie and Chris Nelson are about to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. Currently living in Texas, they met at the University of Nebraska at Omaha while they were both working fall football camp. They have a 1-year-old daughter, Ainsley, and a 4-year-old dog, Beaux.

When asked what it is like being married to another AT, Stephanie responded, "I love it! Yes, it has its challenges mostly due to conflicting schedules, but I love having someone that truly understands my profession and the demands of my job. We have learned over the years how to discuss athletic training, our challenges in the job and different techniques without always being defensive or competitive."

The Nelsons manage their schedules by recognizing that they have busy times of the year and that a break is around the corner. They work to ensure that Sunday is a family day, and they try to eat lunch together on Fridays. Their daughter is already familiar with their athletic training facilities, coaches, athletes and athletic training students.

Stephanie has good advice for similar couples. "Learn how you can communicate with each other about the job without being defensive and competitive, and then you can grow and advance with each other," she said. "Make sure you have other interests besides athletic training."

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Written By:

Brittney Ryba

Staying Safe on the Snow

Friday, February 14th, 2014

With the Winter Olympics under way and an upcoming long weekend for President’s Day, there will be a lot of people out skiing and snowboarding over the next few weeks.

While sliding down the mountain is an exhilarating experience, it can also end very badly, speaking from experience.

Here are some ways to make sure that your ski vacation is both fun filled and safe.

Control – Ski within your abilities and skill set and always be able to stop quickly if the situation calls for it.

Awareness – Look around before you start your run, and continue to practice defensive skiing during your run to avoid a collision.

Hydration – You may not always feel thirsty when you are schussing down the mountain, but exercise in the winter weather can quickly cause you to become dehydrated. Prepare to take breaks or a carry a hydration pack for the day.

Fatigue – Injuries occur after lunch when your stomach is full and your muscles are fatigued from the morning. If you go back out in the afternoon, take it easy on some cruisers first so you do not overdo it, or quit early.

Equipment – Make sure that your gear is properly fitted and adjusted to your body. Wear layers, so they are easy to peel off as the day progresses and your body warms up. 

The snow and mountains are a great way to exercise in the winter and enjoy the outdoors. When you are out channeling your inner Olympian, remember to stay safe, pay attention and have fun!

For some other good tips on staying safe in the snow, visit

Written By:


Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Ethical action is typically compared to legal action as one considers ethical resolutions.  Athletic Trainers (ATs) are faced with challenges each day that are not illegal, rather issues that are marginally ethical.  Our values guide our behaviors yet we are constantly reminded of the organizational climate in which we work.  These personal, professional and organizational values are often placed in tension (Schlabach and Peer, 2008).  Consider the following LEGAL-ETHICAL GRID, upon which many ethical dilemmas are evaluated, in light of the case below:

As an AT employed at a clinic, you receive a card that reflects the top five reimbursable codes for therapy services at your clinic. You are told that your reimbursable charges will determine the amount of bonus you receive for the year. Each week at the staff meeting, the boss updates everyone as to the status of the reimbursed levels and who is in the lead relative to anticipated bonus amounts. What do you do?

  • Is it ethical to use this guide to determine your course of treatment for the patients in the clinic?
  • Is it appropriate for you to compare healthcare incentives (as in the case) with business incentives (such as tiered bonus structures)?
  • How does this impact athletic training challenges in clinics across the country?
  • Can you think of an example that you have experienced that would fit each of the four quadrants in the matrix?

Written By: Kimberly Peer, EdD, ATC, FNATA

Dr. Peer is an Associate Professor at Kent State University. She holds a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration with a Cognate in Health Care Management. Kimberly was recently appointed as the editor-in-chief for the Athletic Training Education Journal and serves on the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education Ethics Committee as well as the NATA Committee on Professional Ethics. Her national contributions include service to the BOC, NATA, JAT and REF in multiple capacities. Her statewide service includes the Governor’s appointment to the Ohio licensure board and over 12 years of service to the OATA.

Peer received the NATA Fellow Award and OATA Hall of Fame Award in 2012 and has been lauded with other national, regional and state level awards for her contributions to the profession and athletic training education. Dr. Peer has published and presented extensively on the international and national levels about ethics education and pedagogy and has co-authored with Dr. Gretchen Schlabach the first textbook on ethics in athletic training.


Athletic Trainers Prepare for 2014 Olympic Winter Games

Monday, February 10th, 2014


Left to right: Byron Craighead and Ben Towne in Sochi.

The 2014 Olympic Winter Games is the first time that the Russian Federation will have hosted the Winter Games; the Soviet Union hosted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. The host city, Sochi, has a population of 400,000 people and is situated in Krasnodar, which is the third largest region in Russia.

Athletic Trainers (ATs) Ben Towne, MA, ATC, and Byron Craighead, MA, ATC, work side by side providing medical care to the US bobsled and skeleton team and will have the opportunity of a lifetime serving Olympic athletes in Sochi.

Ben has been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer since 2000 and began his route working with Olympic athletes when he applied through the United States Olympic Committee Medical Volunteer Program in 2006. He completed a two-week rotation at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center. Soon after his training, he was extended the opportunity to work with the US Bobsled and Skeleton Team.

Preparation for the Olympics includes general maintenance and sports performance, in addition to injury management. Ben shared that manual skills are a must and that reading up on the latest treatment techniques and understanding the demands of the elite level athlete are essential to providing quality care. Ben has worked three World Championships and completed several World Cup events over the past several years, but this is his first Olympics.

Ben Towne in St Moritz, Switzerland in January 2014.

Ben shares advice for ATs interested in working the Olympics.

"Be patient. Just as it takes some athletes years to get to an Olympics, it can take just as long for an Athletic Trainer," said Ben, "It also takes a while to understand all the nuances of each sport. Perhaps more importantly, you must be a team player and be able to work with ALL healthcare professionals."

Byron has been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer since 1971. He had a dream to represent the US in the field of Sports Medicine at the highest level of amateur athletics, so he began his route by applying for the two-week internship at the USOC Sports Medicine Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. There, he worked with athletes in a variety of sports including wrestling, racquetball and ice hockey. After his internship, he worked with USA Wrestling at a variety of levels of competition.

US Bobsled Olympians Lauryn Williams and Jamie Greubel with Byron Craighead (center).

Years later, he was asked if he’d like to work with the USA Bobsled team and he accepted. He originally just worked with the men’s bobsled team, but as women’s bobsledding evolved, he has worked with both teams on the same tour.

His involvement with Olympic training has been as little as two weeks to as long as 10 weeks. He has been fortunate to work the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Byron advises that ATs earn their certification and then after, build a resume of diversified experience such as applying for the USOC internship, developing people skills and gaining professional skills with various continuing education activities.

"Athletes on top of their game are constantly pursuing the newest treatment protocols available," Byron said. "You must have a passion for your profession, as hours are long, demands high and expectations higher."

Written By:
Brittney Ryba

Gender Equality in Sports Has a New Opponent: Heart Disease

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Marlen Esparza, the first American woman to qualify for boxing in London 2012 Olympics (debut year for women's Olympic boxing). She won the bronze in the flyweight division.

For the past several decades, women and girls have fought for equality in sports. Now there’s another gender gap foe to combat: heart disease. Did you know that while cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in American women, it’s not recognized or treated on par with men? The heart health "playing field" is not level.

Every Athletic Trainer (AT) must act to help protect our patients’ current and future heart health, regardless of their gender. An easy way to start is to don your favorite red polo, hoodie or award show-worthy gown this Friday. National Wear Red Day (February 7) kicks off American Heart Month and aims to raise awareness that heart disease is not only a man’s problem.

Here are some critical stats:

  • Every minute of every day, one American woman dies from heart disease.
  • Five times as many women will die from heart attacks this year than from breast cancer.
  • Heart disease kills more women annually than the top seven cancers combined.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died of heart disease each year.
  • 42% of women who have heart attacks die within one year, compared to 24% of male heart attack victims.
  • 8 million women in the U.S. are living with heart disease.
  • 35,000 of American women under age 55 will have a heart attack this year.

Time to get off the bench

For decades, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women has lagged behind that of men. For example, women are less likely to be prescribed preventative medications such as beta-blockers, statins and ACE inhibitors. And following diagnosis of a cardiac event, women are less likely to receive aspirin in the ER.

Various studies and experts point to several challenges, including: 1) male-centric research, 2) lack of patient and practitioner awareness (i.e., "it’s a man’s problem"), and 3) differences in clinical presentation.

A 2005 American Heart Association (AHA) study revealed that only 8% of primary care physicians and 17% of cardiologists knew that heart disease kills more women than men.

The Go Red for Women campaign and other efforts have positively impacted women’s awareness of their risk. A 2012 survey by the AHA showed that 56% correctly identified heart disease as the leading cause of death, up from only 30% in 1997. But 56% isn’t a game-winning score!

Don’t assume your patients aren’t at risk because they are younger and fitter than the average American woman. Just ask 2012 Olympic gold-medal swimmer Dana Vollmer, who has long QT syndrome, or Sorella Englund, former principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet, who had a heart attack at age 33.

Younger women at risk

According to the American Heart Association, arterial plaque can start accumulating during childhood, and early onset is becoming more common. The rate of sudden cardiac death in women in their 30s and 40s is increasing much faster than in men the same age, rising 30% this past decade. Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.

The British Heart Foundation found that 710,000 women across the UK - ages 16 to 44 - are living with heart disease compared to 570,000 men. Younger women aren’t necessarily more aware, either: Only 44% of 25- to 34-year-olds surveyed by the AHA knew that heart disease is the top killer.

Among the conditions that younger women are more prone to suffer (and for which research is lacking) are valvular heart disease, arterial dissection and cardiac complications associated with lupus and disordered eating.

Join the fight

ATs are well positioned to fight heart disease in women. Regardless of setting, we are health educators with a platform to inform. We’re armed with education and training to employ life saving measures in the event of sudden cardiac arrest to improve the odds of survival. Let’s also develop our role in preventing and understanding the other forms of heart disease and risk factors - in particular the female athletic triad - that more commonly affect the women we serve.

And don’t forget to Wear Red this Friday!

  • How can you promote awareness of women’s heart disease in your clinical practice - and with your family and community?
  • What are you doing to help mitigate your patients’ modifiable cardiac risk factors, such as stress, tobacco use, eating disorders and high blood pressure?
  • Should pre-participation exams address gender-focused cardiac risk factors?
  • What can men do to help the women in their lives to prevent heart disease?

Want more information?

Facts, advocacy, tools:

American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women homepage

Go Red Heart CheckUp (simple risk assessment tool)

British Heart Foundation Women’s Room


Incidence, Characteristics and Outcome of Sudden Cardiac Death During Sports in Women

Ventricular Arrhythmias in Women

The Female Athlete Triad and Cardiovascular Dysfunction

Cardiovascular Complications of Eating Disorders

Position statements:

National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Preventing, Detecting, and Managing Disordered Eating in Athletes

Female Athlete Heart: IOC Medical Commission Position Stand

General media:

Overcoming a Heart Condition to Win Olympic Gold (New York Times)

10 Myths About Heart Disease (USA Today)


Written by:

Kelly Berardini, MHA, ATC


Multiple sources: American Heart Association Women and Cardiovascular Disease Statistical Fact Sheet (2013), British Heart Foundation: Coronary heart disease statistics: A compendium of health statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Women and Heart Disease Fact Sheet (2012)

Gender-Based Issues in Interventional Cardiology: A Consensus Statement from the Women in Innovations (WIN) Initiative. Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions 75:145–152 (2010)

Cardiac pathologic findings reveal a high rate of sudden cardiac death of undetermined etiology in younger women. Am Heart J. 2003 Oct; 146(4):635-9. (PubMed link)

The Heart Foundation

Matters of the Heart

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

In September 2012, Athletic Trainer (AT) Caroline Oakley was substituting at Villa Maria Academy High School in Malvern, PA for a full-time AT, when she was faced with a medical emergency.  A cross-country athlete with no family history of a heart condition went into cardiac arrest.  When summoned by a teacher, Caroline was able to swiftly grab the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) from the athletic training facility while a parent spectator, who also happened to be an ER nurse, stepped up as a first responder.  When Caroline reached the athlete, there was no pulse, and they immediately applied the AED.  The AED advised the initial shock, then a second shock and, finally, resumed CPR.  The athlete’s pulse returned; by then, EMS had arrived on the scene.  Today that student athlete is alive and well as a result of the actions taken by Caroline that day.

February is American Heart Month, an entire month devoted to raising awareness about heart health through education and disease prevention. Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States, and Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death among young athletes.  The public may ask, why is this awareness so important since the traditional AT treats an athletic population? Not only do ATs treat the athlete, we are often interacting with the mature referee or spectator in the sports arena, as well as a range of ages and fitness levels in clinics and industrial settings. One day you may find yourself reacting as a first responder and in the position to save a life.

“In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.” –Louis Pasteur

We all hope that, if faced with similar scenarios, we will know what to do, react the way we were trained and that we, too, will have positive outcomes.  Take a moment to evaluate your site by asking yourself the following questions. 

  1. Have you rehearsed your Emergency Action Plan (EAP) lately, and do you perform it regularly? (It is important that when the time comes, the steps are implemented properly).
  2. Do you have multiple EAPs for your various venues – the gymnasium, football field, swimming pool, etc.?
  3. Do you have an adequate number of AEDs readily accessible to you and other potential first responders?
  4. Do you require routine heart screenings as part of your pre-participation physical, which is an expensive and currently debated endeavor?
  5. Have you reviewed your CPR/AED skills recently?

According to the American Red Cross (ARC) Scientific Advisory Council, CPR skill retention begins to decline within a few months after a participant is trained. They recommend that you review every 3 months to keep your knowledge and skills sharp.  Check out the American Red Cross Refresher Center website for free online challenges that will help you feel ready to respond in the event of an emergency.

Check out the following links for more information relating to this topic:

 Tell us something you have done that could help your fellow AT in the event of a cardiac emergency.

 Do you require pre-participation heart screenings on your athletes?  Why or why not?

 National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) members can read the November 2013 NATA News, Lifesaver Edition for more examples of heroic actions of ATs. Remember to wear your red for National Wear Read day to kick-off American Heart Month on Friday, February 7th.  

Written By:

Jennifer Striggle-Young, MEd, LAT, ATC