Archive for the ‘AT Life’ Category

Patient Reported Outcomes in Clinical Practice

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Posted January 17, 2017

Beth Druvenga
M.S. Ed, LAT, ATC

By Beth Druvenga, M.S. Ed, LAT, ATC

As athletic training pushes to the forefront of healthcare professions, it is necessary for us to also change with the times. The Institute of Medicine urges healthcare educational programs to incorporate outcomes that are reported by the patient into their curriculum as to enhance clinicians’ decision making processes and drive forward patient centered care.1 Patient reported outcomes (PROs) are a valuable tool for Athletic Trainers (ATs) to add to their arsenal of evaluating their patient as a whole. With the addition of PROs into educational programs,1 this gives the student a chance to learn how and when to utilize these outcomes. It also makes it easier to analyze and interpret the results.

Many clinicians are hesitant to use PROs, especially in the fast-paced world of athletic training. Some of the greatest barriers to using PROs are time, comprehension and independence. Most clinicians and patients, report that it takes too much time to complete the surveys, and therefore, do not want to include them in their plan of care. Others report that patients don’t understand the questions and cannot properly fill out the survey without dependence on the clinician.1 How can we break through these barriers?

Initially, it may take time to walk the patient through the survey, but after they understand it, they can independently complete it at subsequent times. On the patient’s side, they can complete the survey while they are hooked up to electrical stimulation, icing or heating. This breaks down the time, comprehension and dependency barriers. It could be easily argued that recording PROs is as important to the patient’s rehab as recording objective measures of range of motion, strength and flexibility.

Once you’ve decided to use PROs, there are some things to consider for picking the correct outcome measure to use. First is to select the type of PRO. There are PROs to record the overall health related quality of life, the patient’s whole body health or information that focuses directly to one area of the body. The PRO that focused directly to one area of the body will be best suited for the outcomes most ATs will want to measure.

Once the type is determined, it’s time to decide on the quality of the PRO. In determining the quality, a clinician should look at the reliability and validity of the measure. This is to make sure that the outcome measure accurately shows change over time for the intended population and evaluates items which are important to the clinician and the patient. 2 Other elements to look at are the stability of the measure to reproduce a same score when a patient’s health status has not changed and responsiveness to detect how true the change in the score is over time.2

Along with the internal elements of the outcome measure, the measure also should be patient and clinician friendly, easy to use and score and support the goals that have been made for the patient. If you are interested in adding PROs into your practice but are still not sure where to go, http://www.orthopaedicscores.com/ is a valuable website. This resource has PROs grouped into specific categories as well as offers printable excel files.

One of the best reasons to use patient reported outcomes is to increase communication with the patient and to direct the patient’s care plan.1 Utilizing PROs in conjunction with clinician reported outcomes can enhance the rehabilitation process. Imagine the scenario of a patient returning from ACL surgery. By utilizing PROs, they will be able to see their progress from day 1 to present. As ATs, we watch our patients go through the highs and the lows of their rehabilitation process, including days where they feel like they haven’t made any progress. PROs, in conjunction with clinician reported outcomes, are valuable tools to utilize in helping patients reach their goals.

Resources

1. Snyder Valier, A. R., Jennings, A. L., Parsons, J. T., & Vela, L. I. (2014). Benefits of and Barriers to Using Patient-Rated Outcome Measures in Athletic Training. Journal of Athletic Training, 674-683.

2. Valier, A. R., & Lam, K. C. (2015). Beyond the Basics of Clinical Outcomes Assessment: Selecting Appropriate Patient-Reported Outcomes Instruments for Patient Care. Athletic Training Education Journal, 91-100.

About the Author

Beth Druvenga is an Athletic Trainer currently living in northern Virginia. She has experience working in both a collegiate and high school setting. Druvenga is originally from Iowa where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Athletic Training from Central College in 2012. She graduated from Old Dominion University in 2014 with a Master of Science in Education. Her professional interests include patient-reported outcomes, psychology of injury and rehabilitation as well as using yoga to increase flexibility.

 

Utilization of Sport Psychology in the Rehabilitation Process

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Posted January 9, 2017

Beth Druvenga
M.S. Ed, LAT, ATC

By Beth Druvenga, M.S. Ed, LAT, ATC

“Sports are 10% physical, 90% mental,” this common phrase used in sports is easily transferred into the world of injury rehabilitation. Sport psychology has started to be incorporated into the sports medicine realm.  Athletic Trainers (ATs) are required to participate in some type of psychological or behavioral classes as part of an athletic training program curriculum. Many people have heard of collegiate or professional athletes using psychological techniques such as imagery, stress reduction and positive self-talk as part of their pre-game regimen. They have credited these techniques as helping their game excel, but what if we transferred these techniques into the athletic training facility?

There are some athletes who still feel the stigma of psychosocial help and may not see it as the ATs “place” to employ sport psychology theories into the rehabilitation program.1 However, these interventions have been shown to have positive effects on athlete compliance to rehabilitation programs, better rates of recovery and may help alleviate stress or anxiety.4,3

As ATs, we are put into the unique role, which allows us to control many aspects of the rehabilitation process such as; creating a positive atmosphere, maintaining athlete compliance and providing social support for the injured athlete. We can easily facilitate the discussion with the athlete about how they feel regarding their injury, refer them to another healthcare professional or help them cope with their injury. ATs are on the front lines of student-athlete wellness. Having awareness and knowledge about the psychosocial aspects of the sport allows ATs to take greater care of the athlete, which will hopefully reduce injury recovery time.

Use your tools of the trade! As a professional, it is intrinsic to give our athletes feedback and cues on how to do their exercises correctly. We help set achievable goals in their rehabilitation and lift them up when they’re having a rough day in rehab. All athletes have some part of their identity associated with being an athlete. Being aware of any changes in this identity can be useful for an AT to help in identifying any issue that may appear. These are all subtle psychological interventions!1 Though subtle is sometimes best, there are some more direct ways that can be beneficial to the athlete.

Start by having the athlete write down goals for each week in a journal or on a rehab sheet. The ability to see these goals daily during rehab will ingrain in the athlete’s mind about what they have set out to do for the week and will motivate them to make progress.2 They can acknowledge their goals while doing specific exercises and visibly see their progress written out. Talking with the athlete about their motivation for recovery can also be helpful. By understanding the athletes “why” early in the recovery process, you can help remind them of this “why” during the difficult days.

Add imagery into their program. Imagery is a process which involves three steps: vividness, controllability and self-perception.5 Especially with post-surgical cases and prior to the exercise, have the athlete imagine the muscles they use to do a specific exercise (vividness). After they have done this for a few minutes, have them move on to imagining going through the exercise and completing it successfully and pain free (controllability). Then, after doing this step for a few minutes, finally have the athlete think about a time where they were performing at their best, what emotions they had and what it took for them to feel that way.5 Imagery can be used in pain management as well. Having the athlete view the pain as a “hot” color like red and change it to a “cool” color like blue, which can help reduce pain.6

Teach them positive self-talk. Athletes are quick to get down on themselves if they aren’t performing the task perfectly. Have the athlete use “I can”, or “I will” statements before tackling a tough exercise. This practice will positively engage the brain and give the athlete the boost to achieve their goal. Another way to enhance confidence is to view the setback or injury as a challenge and obstacle to overcome rather than a threat to athletic identity. Changing the perception will help the athlete remain optimistic during a potentially difficult period of life.

Create a peer to peer group.2 A peer to peer group can be led by a sport psychologist or qualified mental skills coach, which can meet to discuss the “boo’s and yay’s” of that day’s session. Athletes need to know they’re not the only one struggling with certain things. When they can dialogue with others in a controlled setting, they may find it beneficial to talk with others going through similar situations. They can also share techniques which have helped them and may  help other athletes.

Many ATs do not feel adequately equipped to walk athletes through the psychological aspects of return from injury. If this is the case, search for local sports psychologist or qualified mental skills coach, who work with adolescents or young adults. A great resource is the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, they have information for consultants in your area, as well are plenty of resources on injury/rehabilitation.

In the college/university setting, seek out your psychology or kinesiology professors. They may have an interest in the area of sport psychology and would be willing to provide guidance and expertise. Seek out workshops, lectures and continuing education that touch upon applying psychology into the athletic training facility. As ATs, we are uniquely taught and equipped to handle many different and difficult facets of injury, rehabilitation and return to play. We have an overflowing toolbox, but adding sport psychology training may prove to be a welcome addition.

**Huge thank you to my brother Joel Druvenga, a Master Resilience Trainer-Performance Expert with Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness at Fort Riley Army Base. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Education in Counseling with an emphasis in Sport Psychology.  He is also working toward a Doctor of Education in Kinesiology. He provided me with valuable insight into the realm of sport psychology and utilizing it in the sports medicine world, and added some great edits to this blog post.**

References

1. Arvinen-Barrow, M., Massey, W. V., & Hemmings, B. (2014). Role of Sport Medicine Professionals in Addressing Psychosocial Aspects of Sport-Injury Rehabilitation: Professional Athletes' Views. Journal of Athletic Training, 764-772.

2. Granito, V. J., Hogan, J. B., & Varnum, L. K. (1995). The Performance Enhancement Group Program: Integrating Sport Psychology and Rehabilitation. Journal of Athletic Training, 328-331.

3. Hamson-Utley, J. J., Martin, S., & Walters, J. (2008). Athletic Trainers' and Physical Therapists' Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Psychological Skills Within Sport Injury Rehabilitation Programs. Journal of Athletic Training, 258-264.

4. Heaney, C. A. (2006). Recommendations for Successfully Integrating Sport Psychology Into Athletic Therapy. Sport Psychology & Counseling, 60-62.

5. Richardson, P. A., & Latuda, L. M. (1995). Therapeutic Imagery and Athletic Injuries. Journal of Athletic Training , 10-12.

6. Taylor, J., & Taylor, S. (1997). Psychological approaches to sports injury rehabilitation. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers.

About the Author

Beth Druvenga is an Athletic Trainer currently living in northern Virginia. She has experience working in both a collegiate and high school setting. Druvenga is originally from Iowa where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Athletic Training from Central College in 2012. She graduated from Old Dominion University in 2014 with a Master of Science in Education. Her professional interests include patient-reported outcomes, psychology of injury and rehabilitation as well as using yoga to increase flexibility.

 

 

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In-Depth Look: Assistant Athletic Trainer for The Original Harlem Globetrotters

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Posted December 19, 2016

Austin Burns, ATC is the Assistant Athletic Trainer for The Original Harlem Globetrotters. The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team that combines athletics, performing arts and comedy.

Describe your setting:

I work in a setting with a mixture of professional sports and performing arts.

How long have you worked in this setting?

I have worked in this setting for a little over a year and will be beginning my second tour this holiday season.

Describe your typical day:

Depending on the city we are playing in and how far we have to travel to the next city, my day will typically begin around 6:00am. We are usually on the bus by 8:00am and then off to the next location. After traveling for roughly 4 to5 hours, we check into our hotel and grab a quick lunch.

Afterwards, I head to the arena to meet up with our production and equipment truck. I’ll start by meeting with the arenas facility manager to locate the locker rooms and familiarize myself with the layout of the building. I’ll then help the truck driver unload all of my equipment and supplies; this is usually in a hallway somewhere.

The players, coaches and remaining staff arrive to the arena around 4:00pm and hold a walk through practice. At 5:00pm, I begin all of the pregame routines including stretching, taping, prehab exercise, and various other treatments depending on the needs of the athletes. At 6:45pm, the pregame entertainment begins so I’ll end all treatments and get changed for the show. The show starts at 7:00pm and runs for 2 hours.

During the show, my primary focus is no different than any other Athletic Trainer (AT). I manage acute injuries, perform wound care, make sure the athletes are hydrated and stay alert for anything out of the ordinary. Following the end of the show, the athletes have an autograph session for 20 minutes. I use this time to make ice bags, pack my equipment, load the truck and perform any additional treatments.

By 10:00pm, we are back on the bus and on our way to the hotel. Once in my room, I enter in the medical notes for the day and try to get to bed by 12:00am so I can repeat it all the next day.

What do you like about your position?

What I like most about my position is how creative and adaptive I have to be when working on location. Not having a designated room to perform treatments and exercise can be very challenging. Most days, I find myself performing corrective exercise and prehab on the bus, manual and soft tissue therapies in the hotel room and ice baths in the hotel room tubs. This can be difficult when working with athletes who are all over 6 feet 5 inches tall and can’t fit in the seats, beds or tubs.

What I also love about my position is getting to see the joy people experience when coming to one of our shows. So many children and adults leave the game smiling and laughing. To know you helped make that happen is really rewarding.

What do you dislike about your position?

The hardest part about the position is being on the road for 5 to6 months at a time. Being away from friends and family can start to take a toll on you. Fortunately, you begin to develop a small family with the athletes and staff involved in the production, which helps with the home sicknesses.

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

The advice I would give to any young AT looking at this setting would be to go for it!

Don’t think because you have only worked in football, baseball or basketball your whole career that you can’t tackle performing arts or any other setting. I have become a more well-rounded AT because I chose to challenge myself by working in new and different settings.

I was very nervous when I started in this position but am grateful I made the decision to take on this role.

 

 

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The Role of an Athletic Trainer in Managing Diabetes

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Posted December 15, 2016

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

The theme for National Diabetes Month in November this year was “Managing Diabetes—It’s Not Easy, but it’s Worth it.” There are 2 important aspects to this theme that impacts the work of healthcare providers.

1. It serves as a reminder to all persons diagnosed with diabetes that they are not alone.

2. It serves to educate the population on the importance of managing diabetes correctly to prevent secondary complications including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, vision loss and amputation.

It is important for healthcare professionals, along with members of the community, to be educated on the risk factors of diabetes as well as any issue that may arise due to improper management. As healthcare providers, Athletic Trainers (AT) have several important roles and responsibilities with diabetes management.

First and foremost, ATs need to educate patients, parents and coaches on what to look out for with hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Also, having a treatment plan readily available, along with the patient’s emergency medical forms,  is essential incase an emergency arises. Establishing good rapport with the patient and their family is imperative to gain trust in the relationship.

There are also several tips ATs should provide to your patients with diabetes:

- Know your ABC’s including the following:

* A1C or blood test that measures the average blood sugar level over the past 3 months

* Blood pressure

* Cholesterol

- Get into a routine schedule with your eating habits and physical activity

- Know your blood sugar levels and what to do when they become too high or too low

- Establish a team of healthcare professionals who are able to provide support and answer questions

For more information on this topic, visit the following webpages:

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/?loc=db-slabnav

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/myths/?loc=db-slabnav

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/?loc=lwd-slabnav

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-communication-programs/ndep/partnership-community-outreach/national-diabetes-month/Pages/default.aspx

 

 

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In-Depth Look: Athletic Trainer for the United States Soccer Federation

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Posted November 21, 2016

Steven Bagus, ATC, NASM-PES is an Athletic Trainer for the United States Soccer Federation.

Describe your setting:

I work with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). In this setting, I work with a variety of national soccer teams at a variety of locations. This setting allows for a great deal of travel and the opportunity to work with athletes of different ages.

The diversity of coaches, athletes and staff members provides a constantly changing atmosphere. This setting forces me to use all of the tools in my athletic training box. Learning the health history of the players, their needs during training camps or tournaments and the expectations of the coaching staff in a short time frame and an unfamiliar environment helps me to be a more dynamic Athletic Trainer (AT).

How long have you worked in this setting?

My first experience working with the USSF was in 2009, but I entered my current role in January 2016.

Describe your typical day:

A typical trip working for the USSF involves meeting the team at an airport to travel together for international trips or traveling to the location of a domestic camp.

The camp begins with setting up your athletic training facility, typically an empty hotel room. A typical camp has an average of 12 boxes of athletic training supplies. Once your functional athletic training facility is set up, it is important to review the physicals for each athlete. Each day of camp can be different depending on the needs of the team.

As the AT, I am expected to join the team for all team meals, prepare the athletes for practice and games and evaluate and treat the athlete’s post-activity. Each day is exciting, challenging and demanding but can be a very rewarding experience as an AT.

What do you like about your position?

I love that this position allows me to travel all over the world with the highest level of athletes.

What do you dislike about your position?

The biggest challenge of this job is learning the needs and expectations of different athletes and coaches on a regular basis.

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

My advice to young professionals looking for this setting is to be very flexible and excited to help the team accomplish their goals. If you are interested in working for a national program, seek out the medical administrator and see where you can help.

 

Adopting Injury Prevention Programs in High School

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Posted November 16, 2016

Tim Koba, MS, ATC
Twitter: @timkoba
Blog: www.timkoba.blogspot.com

By Tim Koba, MS, ATC

Participation in high school athletics carries an intrinsic risk of injury, but that doesn’t mean certain types of injuries can’t be decreased. There has been a proliferation of injury prevention programs. These programs have the ability to improve performance and decrease risk of sustaining certain injuries, especially ACL injuries and ankle sprains. While this information is readily available, there has been some hesitancy to adopt these and similar programs.

In an Oregon survey of high school soccer and basketball coaches, many of the coaches were aware that injury prevention programs existed, but they were not adopting those programs for their own teams.1 Some of their reasons included the belief that what they currently did was similar to the program; their program was superior to the researched program; or they were not aware of how much actual sport performance gains occurred as a result of these programs. Those concerns have validity and merit further discussion.

Many injury programs have similar features that are easy to adopt and implement such as squatting, jumping, cutting and using a balance apparatus. The key with any of these exercises is to focus on form and ensure the athletes are appropriately performing the required task and not going through the motions. Some of the programs are definitely more involved and time consuming and may cut into the limited time available for training. However, before changing or eliminating exercises, it is important to understand the mechanics and rationale behind those exercises and why they were included in the first place. Arbitrarily eliminating exercises can invalidate the program resulting in a failure to achieve the intended prevention outcomes.

A relatively new option for reducing injury risk, improving fitness and performance is to adopt a training program in physical education (PE) classes.2 This exercise vehicle may be a great way to teach fundamental movement skills to adolescents who carry on to their chosen sport. In a study out of Canada, researchers compared a typical PE class with a specific training PE class. The specific training PE class was geared toward the improvement in movement, reduction in injury and had significantly fewer injuries than the control group. The exercises regimen they chose was similar to the FIFA 11+ and included squats, jumps, lunges, planks and running drills. The inclusion of this, or a similar program, in middle and high school may help to decrease on field injury rates during athletic participation.

The potential for injury will always be a part of athletics, but accepting that there is nothing to help prevent injury is not accurate. At this point there are many options to keep players healthy and participating safely. Knowing the common injuries in your chosen sport and available resources are essential for successful participation in athletic endeavors.

Conclusion

- Injury prevention programs can decrease risk for certain injuries and improve performance

- There is hesitancy to adopt these programs despite their proven effectiveness for a variety of reasons

- Implementing a school wide program can help to bridge the gap between player safety in athletics, exercise, fitness and movement

References

1. Norcross, M.F., et. al. (2016). Factors influencing high school coaches’ adoption of injury prevention programs. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 19: 299-304.

2. Richmond, S.A., et. al. (2016). A school based injury prevention program to reduce sport injury risk and improve healthy outcomes in youth: A pilot cluster randomized controlled trial. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 26(4): 291-298.

About the Author

Tim Koba is an Athletic Trainer, strength coach and sport business professional based in Ithaca, New York. He is passionate about helping others reach their personal and professional potential by researching topics of interest and sharing it with others. He contributes articles on injury prevention, management, rehabilitation, athletic development and leadership.

 

 

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Medical Therapeutic Yoga Series: Yoga as a Therapeutic Intervention

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Posted November 8, 2016

Tim Koba, MS, ATC
Twitter: @timkoba
Blog: www.timkoba.blogspot.com

By Tim Koba, MS, ATC

As research continues to improve and advance, it is important to stay abreast of current trends. One of those trends is the development of yoga as a therapeutic intervention. While yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, its popularity for fitness has increased worldwide. In conjunction with this increase in practice comes an increase of research evaluating the therapeutic effectiveness of yoga on different diseases and populations.

There have been some recent literature reviews that evaluate the state of the current research and can help practitioners gain an understanding of alternative and complementary forms of treatments. Yoga has been routinely associated with breathing, movement and mindfulness that can improve stress levels. Indeed, one of the benefits of yoga is the ability to decrease stress. This reduction in stress has additional health benefits including the regulation of breathing; decreasing hypertension; and potentially modulating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to be an adjunctive therapy for asthma.

The focus on the breath with yoga helps to regulate breathing and improve lung capacity. Recently, a study looked to see if this improvement in breathing ability transferred to actual physical performance. A small sample of matched female participants were measured for cycling performance before, during and after being in a yoga group or a control. The practice group showed improvements in lung regulation and capacity at rest, but no improvement in cycling performance or VO2max. So, while yoga may help with regulating breathing, it is still important to undergo training modalities to achieve physiological adaptation.

Another common reason to perform yoga is to improve balance and flexibility and both of these outcomes are achieved with routine practice of yoga. Athletes have even seen improvements in these areas compared to those who did not practice yoga. Unfortunately, no study has evaluated the on-field transfer, prevention or rehabilitation potential of yoga on injury risk and performance measures. It still remains to be seen if yoga is a viable standalone prevention or rehab strategy.

An area of rehabilitation that does show promise is chronic low back pain. One of the main reasons for participants to choose yoga relates to low back pain (20 percent). Yoga practice has demonstrated effectiveness in decreasing the pain and dysfunction associated with chronic low back pain. Yoga also improves the symptoms and function of those suffering from knee arthritis. Yoga can help to decrease the pain, swelling and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis (OA).

While the use of yoga is showing promise as a therapy, there are definite opportunities to learn more. It is important to note a few things regarding its effectiveness as a therapeutic modality. The range of yoga styles and instructors makes it very difficult to standardize yoga therapies, and thus, hard to compare outcomes to traditional therapies. The differences of the styles, instructor, location, class level and overall vigor of practice all have an effect on how a client will respond to the intervention. As studies regarding yoga become more robust, we can make better recommendations to athletes and clients regarding its use, but currently our knowledge is limited.

Conclusion

- Yoga can improve pain and stiffness of OA and improve chronic low back pain

- Yoga can improve balance, flexibility and strength

- Yoga can decrease stress, including the regulation of breathing and decreasing hypertension

- Yoga may have a positive benefit on PTSD, anxiety and depression

- Yoga may be useful as a complementary practice for treatments, but more standardization and research is required to make specific recommendations

Resources

Beutler, E., et al. (2016). Effect of regular yoga practice on respiratory regulation and exercise performance. Plos One, 11(4).

Chang, D., et al. (2016). Yoga as a treatment for chronic low back pain: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Orthopedic Rheumatology, 3(1), 1-8.

Field, T. (2016). Yoga research review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 24, 145-161.

Jeter, P., et al. (2015). Yoga as a therapeutic intervention: A bibliometric analysis of published research studies from 1967-2013. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(10): 586-592.

Park, C., Braun, T., & Siegel, T. (2015). Who practices yoga? A systematic review of demographic, health related and psychosocial factors related to yoga practice. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 38, 460-471.

Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International Journal of Yoga, 4(2), 49-54.

About the Author

Tim Koba is an Athletic Trainer, strength coach and sport business professional based in Ithaca, New York. He is passionate about helping others reach their personal and professional potential by researching topics of interest and sharing it with others. He contributes articles on injury prevention, management, rehabilitation, athletic development and leadership.

 

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Self-Care for Athletic Trainers: How to deal with stress, long days and an intense work environment

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Posted October 25, 2016

By Beth Druvenga, M.S. Ed, LAT, ATC

Beth Druvenga,
M.S. Ed, LAT, ATC

For years researchers have been interested in methods to help combat stress and burnout in healthcare fields. Studies have shown that an increase in fatigue, insomnia, depression, heart disease and other psychological and physiological ailments can be attributed to stress in the workplace. Other byproducts are decreased patient satisfaction and reduction of a clinician’s attention and concentration, which can reduce their decision-making skills and concentration.2 Obviously, to us in the healthcare field, reduced decision-making skills and decreased patient satisfaction are detrimental to our jobs. However, the physiological and psychological effects on the clinician are detrimental to our health and well-being.

So what are some ways to combat this stress in the workplace? The research is clear that exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress.1 Not only does exercise release hormones that are mood boosters, but it helps you expel aggression and focus your mind on something other than work. Other proven ways to combat stress include seeking outside help, broaching the subject at work to create a better work environment and meditation. Let’s take a deeper look into these less utilized options.

Outside help: There is a stigma in our society that, “only crazy people go to psychologists.” This stigma is false! In fact, a high percentage of those seeking advice from psychologists do not suffer from any diagnosed medical condition. Many employers offer the services of mental health and wellness to their employees. You should take advantage of this great opportunity! If you still feel uneasy about a mental health counselor, seek out a friend, family member, significant other, clergy or other trusted individual to speak to about stressors or struggles at work. Sometimes the best way to combat your stress is to talk it out. Another great resource could be a sport psychology consultant who specializes in sub-clinical issues. They would not only be beneficial to us as professionals but also a useful resource for athletes during the recovery process.

At work: ATs struggle at 2 major things in the athletic training profession, including saying no and asking for time off. We all know that our field is highly stressful. We don’t dictate our own schedule a majority of the day, and sometimes are left out of the loop. This can lead to burnout. So how do we address it? Speak to our supervisor. Companies want to retain their employees, but there is a direct link between burnout and its effect on retention.3 Odds are good you are not the only one suffering from stress, and maybe there is a way to incorporate a stress reduction program into your work day. Another option is to look into classes being held at a local fitness center, which may offer a short lunch time yoga class.

Meditation: Yoga is an ancient form of exercise; its goal is to connect mind and body. Studies show links between yoga and reduction in stress and anxiety levels.4 Apart from yoga, meditation can help reduce stress. In our profession, we need to take the time to sit in silence. A simple practice of setting aside 5 minutes of your day to quiet your mind free of counterproductive thoughts, to-do lists and stress will do wonders for not only releasing stress but increasing your positive outlook on the rest of the day.

As healthcare professionals, we put the focus on others and sometimes forget about ourselves. If you find yourself suffering from increased amounts of stress at work or in general, that could be a sign to make more time for yourself. We cannot be at our best for others, if we are not at our best for ourselves.

Resources

1. Gicaobbi, P. R. (2009). Low Burnout and High Engagement Levels in Athletic Trainers: Results of a Nationwide Random Sample. Journal of Athletic Training, 370-377.

2. Irving, J. A., & Park-Saltzman, J. (2009). Cultivating mindfulness in health care professionals: A review of empirical studies of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 61-66.

3. Mazerolle, S., & Eason, C. (2016). A Longitudinal Examination of Work-Life Balance in the Collegiate Setting. Journal of Athletic Training, 223-232.

4. Smith, C., Hancock, H., Blank-Mortimer, J., & Eckert, K. (2007). A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 77-83.

About the Author

Beth Druvenga is an Athletic Trainer currently living in northern Virginia. She has experience working in both a collegiate and high school setting. Druvenga is originally from Iowa where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Athletic Training from Central College in 2012. She graduated from Old Dominion University in 2014 with a Master of Science in Education. Her professional interests include patient-reported outcomes, psychology of injury and rehabilitation as well as using yoga to increase flexibility.

 

Osteoarthritis Prevention and Wellness Protection Strategies

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Posted October 18, 2016

By Jeffrey B. Driban, PhD, ATC, CSCS

How many Athletic Trainers (ATs) can remember a patient who tore an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), returned to visit a few years later and described chronic knee pain and limitations with their favorite activities?

The Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week is a great time to focus on injury/illness prevention and wellness protection strategies that can help preserve long-term health. This is particularly relevant if we consider that 37 percent of ATs think osteoarthritis – a chronic painful and disabling condition – is not a major health concern.1 Furthermore, only approximately 70 percent of ATs discuss with a patient their risk for osteoarthritis and strategies to mitigate this risk.

In contrast, over 80 percent of adults after an ACL injury believe that knee osteoarthritis would be a major health concern and only 27 percent recalled having a conversation with their health professional about osteoarthritis risks associated with their knee injury.2 While many patients focus on short- and medium-term goals like return to play, it is vital that ATs provide patients with information about what they can expect after an injury. Let us consider some key questions.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis – is a progressive disease that affects all the tissues in a synovial joint. Osteoarthritis reflects a failed attempt to repair joint damage that is caused by stress on a joint. Osteoarthritis can be thought of as a disease, which is defined by the structural changes in a joint like bone spur formation or cartilage damage. It can also be thought of as an illness, which is defined by a patient’s reported experience like joint pain or other symptoms.3

Is osteoarthritis a major health concern?

Over 30.8 million million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis.4 Osteoarthritis is among the top 15 causes of disability.5 Osteoarthritis causes over $10 billion in annual absenteeism6 and more than $185 billion/year in healthcare expenditures.7 Unfortunately, a patient is at risk for early-onset osteoarthritis after a joint injury. This is troubling because adults 20 to 55 years of age with hip or knee osteoarthritis are 4 times more likely to be psychologically distressed compared with their peers. Furthermore, 67 percent of these patients report osteoarthritis-related work disability and approximately 40 percent report reduction in quality of life.8

Which physically active individuals are at risk for osteoarthritis?

Most adults who take part in physical activity and sports are safe and possibly even protected against osteoarthritis.9 However, men in soccer and certain elite-level sports may be at greater risk for hip or knee osteoarthritis.10,11 It remains unknown if these specific sports cause osteoarthritis or if other factors are the culprits (for example, the amount of training the athlete performs, the types of injuries that occur or how we manage an injury). Among our patients, one of the strongest risk factors for osteoarthritis is joint trauma. Individuals with a history of knee injury are 3 to 6 times more likely to develop osteoarthritis.12 Within the first decade after a knee injury, 1 in 3 patients develop osteoarthritis.13,14 Hence, a 20-year-old athlete who tears her ACL is at elevated risk for osteoarthritis by 30 years of age, which could lead to knee symptoms and then have a major impact on her work and quality of life for decades.

What can we do to prevent osteoarthritis?    

An injury prevention program can reduce the risk of injury by 35 to 68 percent.15,16 Furthermore, lower limb injury prevention programs can improve performance, keep athletes on the field and be easily implemented in a team warm-up. Recently, the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, of which the NATA is a member organization, released a Consensus Opinion on the Best Practice Features of Lower Limb Injury Prevention Programs (Executive Summary). The task force identified 6 core components that should be included as part of a training program for prevention of major joint injury among youth athletes:

1. lower extremity and core muscle strength training

2. plyometric - jump training

3. balance training (as part of a program)

4. continual feedback on proper technique

5. sufficient dosing and compliance

6. minimal to no extra equipment

Unfortunately, we are unable to prevent every injury. Hence, we need to educate our patients about their risk for osteoarthritis and secondary prevention strategies that could help delay or prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. Secondary prevention strategies include regular exercise and weight management. These concepts will be expanded upon in the Athletic Trainers’ Osteoarthritis Consortium’s review and recommendations on the role of ATs in preventing and managing post-traumatic osteoarthritis in physically active individuals. The article will published by the Journal of Athletic Training in Spring 2017.

It is important to recognize that ATs are in a key position to help prevent this chronic disabling disorder and have a lasting effect on a patient’s long-term health and wellness. So next time you treat an injury, think long-term and talk with your patient about their future risk of osteoarthritis and how they can help reduce their chances of getting it.

References

1.  Pietrosimone BG, Blackburn JT, Golightly YM, et al. Certified Athletic Trainers' Knowledge and Perceptions of Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis After Knee Injury. Journal of athletic training. 2016.

2.  Bennell KL, van Ginckel A, Kean CO, et al. Patient Knowledge and Beliefs About Knee Osteoarthritis After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury and Reconstruction. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2016; 68(8):1180-1185.

3.  Lane NE, Brandt K, Hawker G, et al. OARSI-FDA initiative: defining the disease state of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011; 19(5):478-482.

4. Cisternas MG, Murphy L, Sacks JJ, et al. Alternative Methods for Defining Osteoarthritis and the Impact on Estimating Prevalence in a US Population-Based Survey. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2016; 68(5):574-580.

5. Vos T, Flaxman AD, Naghavi M, et al. Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet. 2013; 380(9859):2163-2196.

6.  Kotlarz H, Gunnarsson CL, Fang H, Rizzo JA. Osteoarthritis and absenteeism costs: evidence from US National Survey Data. J Occup Environ Med. 2010; 52(3):263-268.

7.  Kotlarz H, Gunnarsson CL, Fang H, Rizzo JA. Insurer and out-of-pocket costs of osteoarthritis in the US: evidence from national survey data. Arthritis Rheum. 2009; 60(12):3546-3553.

8. Ackerman IN, Bucknill A, Page RS, et al. The substantial personal burden experienced by younger people with hip or knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015; 23(8):1276-1284.

9. Urquhart DM, Tobing JF, Hanna FS, et al. What is the effect of physical activity on the knee joint? A systematic review. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011; 43(3):432-442.

10. Driban JB, Hootman JM, Sitler MR, Harris K, Cattano NM. Participation in certain sports is associated with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review. Journal of athletic training. In Press.

11. Michaelsson K, Byberg L, Ahlbom A, Melhus H, Farahmand BY. Risk of severe knee and hip osteoarthritis in relation to level of physical exercise: a prospective cohort study of long-distance skiers in Sweden. PLoS One. 2011; 6(3):e18339.

12. Muthuri SG, McWilliams DF, Doherty M, Zhang W. History of knee injuries and knee osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011; 19(11):1286-1293.

13. Harris K, Driban JB, Sitler MR, Cattano NM, Balasubramanian E. Tibiofemoral Osteoarthritis After Surgical or Nonsurgical Treatment of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture: A Systematic Review. Journal of athletic training. 2015; In Press.

14. Luc B, Gribble PA, Pietrosimone BG. Osteoarthritis Prevalence Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Systematic Review and Numbers-Needed-to-Treat Analysis. Journal of athletic training. 2014; 49(6):806-819.

15. Sugimoto D, Myer GD, Barber Foss KD, Hewett TE. Specific exercise effects of preventive neuromuscular training intervention on anterior cruciate ligament injury risk reduction in young females: meta-analysis and subgroup analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2014.

16. Emery CA, Roy TO, Whittaker JL, Nettel-Aguirre A, van Mechelen W. Neuromuscular training injury prevention strategies in youth sport: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2015; 49(13):865-870.

About the Author

 Jeffrey B. Driban, PhD, ATC, CSCS is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Rheumatology at Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center. The goal of his research is to explore novel biochemical and imaging markers to gain a better understanding of osteoarthritis and potential disease phenotypes. Dr. Driban received his Bachelors of Science in Athletic Training from the University of Delaware. He received a Masters of Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology with an Emphasis in Athletic Training from Temple University. He completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in the Division of Rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center where he continued his osteoarthritis focus. Dr. Driban also aims to raise awareness about osteoarthritis and promote primary and secondary prevention strategies for physically active individuals as the Chair of the Athletic Trainers’ Osteoarthritis Consortium and by serving as a National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s representative in the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance and Chair of the Alliance’s Osteoarthritis Prevention Work Group. Dr. Driban is also co-founder of Sports Medicine Research Company, which provides a blog and podcast focused bridging the gap between research and clinical practice related to sports medicine.

 

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Discussion and Research on Concussion Management

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Posted October 6, 2016

Diane Sartanowicz,
MS, LAT, ATC

By Diane Sartanowicz, MS, LAT, ATC

With the start of the fall athletic season, much has been written about concussions. In the news and media, concussions are referred to as a public health crisis due to the increase in the number of diagnosed cases.  As Athletic Trainers (ATs), we are called upon as experts in the field of concussion management and are driving the research and discussion around this very hot topic. So why are there so many unanswered questions?

Some of it has to do with the definition of a concussion. The term concussion (or commotio cerebri) has been used for centuries to imply “a transient loss or alteration of consciousness without associated structural damage.”1 It is also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and can cause a variety of physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms. In recent years, concussion has been used most frequently in reference to sport-related head trauma.

Along with the struggle to come to a unified definition of concussion, another set of questions relates to the diagnosis of a concussion and the reporting rates. An estimated 1.7 million concussions occur each year in the United States as a result of sport and physical activity, and of those, 80 percent  are seen in an emergency room department. These numbers are staggering when almost half a million visits for mTBI are made annually by children aged 0 to 14 years.2  Many more concussed youth seek treatment through physicians’ offices or not at all.  So are these statistics accurate? We need to understand exactly what we are diagnosing in order to collect and track the data. Education on the signs and symptoms of a concussion is the key to successful outcomes for the athlete.

As a consequence of the multi-faceted issues facing youth sports concussions, programs like the Massachusetts Concussion Management Coalition (MCMC) are being established to address this issue.  MCMC is a group of individual stakeholders who are dedicated to the health and safety of our student-athletes. The broad range of groups like the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), Massachusetts School Nurse Organization, Athletic Trainers of Massachusetts (ATOM), Department of Public Health and the Brain Injury Center of Boston Children’s Hospital are represented and their top priority is to prevent and manage concussions.

MCMC is a pioneer in concussion research and education outreach bringing everyone together to collaborate on the best way to tackle the many issues surrounding concussions. Due to the generous funding by the NHL Alumni Foundation, MCMC has been able to provide free ImPACT™ neurocognitive testing to all MIAA member schools that enroll in the program. Along with the free testing, MCMC provides secondary schools with concussion education presentations to their communities. It is our goal to ensure tools are readily available for all secondary schools to be knowledgeable in the recognition, management and treatment of concussions. We hope to create a legacy of concussion education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which reflects these goals. For more information on our program or how to get involved, please visit our website at www.massconcussion.org.

As I write this blog, we have just completed a successful Concussion Awareness Week in Massachusetts. It is through the collaborative efforts of the Think Taylor Foundation and the MIAA that 86,000 student-athletes have become more engaged in the discussions surrounding concussions. Think Taylor was founded by Taylor Twellman, star forward for the New England Revolution soccer team. His career-ending concussion left him seeking answers and wanting to make an impact on the lives of student-athletes.

During Concussion Awareness Week, all student-athletes were encouraged to turn their school orange, the color of healing, and to take the TT Pledge. This pledge states, “I will become more educated on the signs and symptoms of concussions, I will be honest with my coaches, and Athletic Trainers, parents and teammates, and that I will be supportive of anyone with a concussion.” These 3 words – education, honesty, support – are what ATs embody every day. Our combined efforts lead the way to increased awareness and expanded concussion education across the state. I would encourage each of you to get involved in a movement like ours.

Resources

1 Charles H. Tator. Concussions and their consequences: current diagnosis, management and prevention, CMAJ. 2013 Aug 6; 185(11): 975–979

2 Faul M, Xu L, Wald MM, Coronado VG. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2010.

About the Author 

Diane Sartanowicz, MS, LAT, ATC is the Director of the MCMC.  She was president of ATOM from 2006-2008, past-president of Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association from 2011-2012 and is currently the NATA District One Treasurer.