The Role of an Athletic Trainer in Managing Diabetes

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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Choosing the Correct Continuing Education Program

Posted December 13, 2016

Brian Bradley,
MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS

By Brian Bradley, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS

Obtaining continuing education units (CEUs) can be a frustrating task, but it can also be very rewarding if done correctly. Start by changing your attitude about continuing education (CE). Don’t think about CE as an annoying, time-consuming tasks you are required to do in order to maintain your certification. Try to think of CE as an opportunity to improve your skills and become a better Athletic Trainer (AT).

1. Know what specific CEs you need for your certification and license

If you are an AT who was certified in 2015 or before, 50 CEUs (including at least 10 CEUs from the EBP category) are required by December 31, 2017. If you were certified in 2016, 25 CEUs (including at least 5 CEUs from the EBP category) are required by December 31, 2017Some states also require CEs with each license renewal, sometimes those including medical errors programs or attending live events. Make sure you account for these when scheduling your CE programs.

2. Find CEs that are aligned with your interests or position

For example: If you work with athletes who have prolonged symptoms after concussions, it may be beneficial to attend a seminar in which they cover sub-maximal graded treadmill exercise.

3. Look for CEs that may make you more marketable in the future

Consider taking CE programs that add to your resume and clinical tool kit. Not only may it make you a better clinician, but it may help you land a job in the future.

4. Look for CEs that may satisfy requirements for multiple certifications

If you are an AT certified as a strength and conditioning specialist, look for a class you can use for both certifications.

5. Don’t wait until the December 2017 of a reporting period to get your CEs

Don’t wait to get your CE completed. The danger of waiting until this last minute is that there may not be any classes that fit into your schedule.

6. Look for CEs your employer will reimburse

Paying for CEs can get expensive but sometimes employers will provide their employees a CE budget.

7. Use CEs as a chance to network

Think about attending a seminar that offers CEs for multiple professions (RN, PT, EMT, etc.). This will help other professionals get to know the athletic training profession.

8. Attend a National or Local Athletic Training Meeting

Get to know other ATs in your state or district. Usually these meetings offer a lot of CEs and cover topics that directly impact you.

9. Use CE Course as an Excuse to Travel

Attend a seminar or course in someplace you have never been. Plan your trip to add a day or 2 to sightsee and experience a new location.

If you’re struggling with CEUs, remember the BOC website has a list of live events and home study programs to help you meet your CE requirements. Find CEUs on the BOC website at www.bocatc.org/findCE. You can also check the career education section of the NATA website at https://www.nata.org/career-education/education/online-ceu-opportunities.

Resources

www.bocatc.org/findCE

https://www.nata.org/career-education/education/online-ceu-opportunities

About the Author

Brian Bradley has been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer since 2008. He is originally from Lawrence, Massachusetts but now live in Orlando, Florida. Bradley earned his undergraduate degree at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts and his master’s degree at the University of Florida. Bradley has worked in a variety of settings including professional, collegiate and secondary schools and in a physical therapy clinic. He currently works at Orlando Orthopaedic Center in the durable medical equipment (DME) department.  In his spare time, Bradley spends time with his wife, Izzy, and his daughter, Abigail.  He is also a big Boston/New England fan and enjoys running.

 

 

 

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Exercise Intervention for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted November 29, 2016

Desi Rotenberg
MS, LAT, ATC

By Desi Rotenberg, MS, LAT, ATC

Since 2000, there is emerging evidence that exercise can and should be used in the therapeutic treatment plan of patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Before understanding how therapeutic exercise can be used as a modality for PTSD, we must identify a working definition of the disorder.

The National Center for PTSD defines trauma as “a shocking or anxiety-inducing event that a person witnesses or experiences.”1 It is reported that 6 out of every 10 men and 5 out of every 10 women will experience at least 1 traumatic incident in their life.1 While these traumatic experiences can cause acute forms of PTSD, the effects tend to be short lasting and asymptomatic. However, 8 out of every 100 individuals in the United States will suffer from PTSD at some point in their life.1

PTSD is described as an “anxiety disorder that is triggered by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.”2 PTSD is most commonly associated with veterans; however, it can also frequently affect survivors of “violent, personal assaults.” These include rape, mugging, domestic violence, childhood abuse, natural disasters, accidents and life threatening illnesses.

It is important to note the athletic population is not exempt from PTSD. Traumatic events that athletes have suffered either in their past or that are related to an athletic injury can cause substantial hindrances in their return to play. The consequences of traumatic stress can interfere with both an athlete’s rehabilitation as well as their return to play status. Furthermore, sport-related trauma can be a result of over-training or violence within sports.3

The main symptoms of PTSD are generalized anxiety, depression, insomnia, dysphoria and general fatigue. While depression is a common consequence of some of life’s most strenuous occurrences, there are physical and physiological benefits to utilizing exercise as a therapeutic intervention.

There have been several studies that have shown positive outcomes on patients with PTSD, and more data is emerging.  In 2009, Cohen and Shamus noted, “Low-to-moderate intensity exercise can elevate mood and reduce anxiety.”2 Additionally, Tsatsoulis and Fountoulakis determined in 2006 that exercise can “act as an overall stress buffer” which in effect can have a positive impact on the symptoms of depression and PTSD.2 Non-randomized controlled studies using physical activity and exercise as an intervention for patients with PTSD showed improvements in body image, prevention of eating disorders, alleviation of anxiety and depressive symptoms and decreased substance abuse.4 Cross-sectional studies have had high self-reports of a correlation between habitual exercise and better mental health.5

In the athletic population, habitual exercise is the activity that is done outside of organized team activities. Other longitudinal surveys have shown that exercise habits early on in an individual’s growth and development, between ages 18-28, can predict freedom from depression later on in their life.6

Farmer et al. surveyed 1,900 adults in 1988 with preexisting depression (causes were variable, some unknown). They determined that individuals who took part in physical exercise ranging from low intensity to rigorous training, successfully made it to the 8-year follow up, and confirmed the researchers’ ability to predict freedom from depression.7 Additionally, the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology published a study in 1994 looking at 1,758 adults with a variety of physical and chronic health problems and self-reported exercise time during a 2-year study period. The majority of these individual reported improvements in well-being, anxiety levels and reported low levels of depression and fatigue.8

There is extensive data on the efficacy of corrective exercise strategies for individuals who are suffering from PTSD as well as any residual behavioral symptoms that are associated with exposure to a traumatic event. While the occurrence of PTSD and injuries from blunt force trauma to the head are only growing in the United States, it will be up to behavioral specialists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and fitness professionals to facilitate an atmosphere that allows individuals to return to their normal activities of daily living.

Resources

1. National Center for PTSD. http://www.ptsd.va.gov. Date Accessed: October 20, 2016.

2. Kim, L. H., Kravitz, L., & Schneider, S. (2012). PTSD & Exercise: What every exercise professional should know. IDEA Fitness J, 9, 20-23.

3. Wenzel, T., & Zhu, L. J. (2013). Posttraumatic Stress in Athletes. Clinical Sports Psychiatry: An International Perspective, 102-114.Lawrence, S., De Silva, M., & Henley, R. (2010). Sports and games for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 9.

4.  Lawrence, S., De Silva, M., & Henley, R. (2010). Sports and games for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 9.

5. Salmon, P. (2001). Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: a unifying theory. Clinical psychology review, 21(1), 33-61.

6. Krause, N., Goldenhar, L., Liang, J., Jay, G., & Maeda, D. (1993). Stress and exercise among the Japanese elderly. Social science & medicine, 36(11), 1429-1441.

7. Farmer, M. E., Locke, B. Z., Moscicki, E. K., Dannenberg, A. L., Larson, D. B., & Radloff, L. S. (1988). Physical activity and depressive symptoms: the NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 128(6), 1340-1351.

8.  Stewart, A. L., Hays, R. D., Wells, K. B., Rogers, W. H., Spritzer, K. L., & Greenfield, S. (1994). Long-term functioning and well-being outcomes associated with physical activity and exercise in patients with chronic conditions in the medical outcomes study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 47, 719–730.

About the Author

Desi Rotenberg, originally from Denver, Colorado, graduated with his bachelor's degree in 2012 from the University of Northern Colorado. He has been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer since 2012 and earned his master's degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Central Florida in 2014. He currently is a high school teacher, teaching anatomy/physiology and leadership development. Along with being a teacher, he wears many hats, such as basketball coach, curriculum developer and mentor. He has been a contributor to the BOC Blog since the summer of 2015. 



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

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

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

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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Would ECHO testing during the PPE prevent sudden cardiac death?

Mike McKenney, MS, ATC

Posted November 2, 2016

By Mike McKenney, MS, ATC

During the pre-participation examination (PPE), many healthcare practitioners employ a traditional cardiac questionnaire and physical examination to detect potential abnormalities and other serious medical conditions that may impact safe participation in sport. However, a physical examination and history are not always sufficient to detect abnormalities of the heart that can result in sudden cardiac death (SCD). More recently, there has been increasing support for broader implementation of electrocardiograph (ECG) testing at all levels of sport. This includes attempts to mandate ECG testing for all high school athletes. Barriers to mandatory ECG testing typically revolve around cost, but there are other factors to consider before requiring this form of screening in an athletic population.

The intended purpose of an ECG is to assess electrical activity of the heart and assist clinicians in determining if a cardiac abnormality is present, whether it be genetic, structural or conductive in nature. However, only 3 percent of cases that result in SCD are of conduction-related causes.1, 2 In young, competitive athletes, structural abnormalities represent the largest percentage of SCD, 84 percent of reported cases,1 which includes conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Simply put, mandating ECG testing in sport may not be the best step forward due to the test’s limitations in screening for the primary causes of SCD.

The difficulty in utilizing ECG to detect structural abnormalities is reflected in a high false-positive rate due to detection of cardiac adaptations regularly found in trained athletes,1, 3 and other variations that are common with normal cardiac rhythm.3Furthermore, ECG lacks the specificity to reliably detect HCM,3 which is a condition that is largely asymptomatic until an SCD event occurs.2 Additionally, results can be interpreted differently between physicians if consistent standards are not being applied.4 Due to the aforementioned factors, athletes are often subject to unnecessary referrals for further screening that often turn out to be of no concern,4 and add further cost to the evaluation process.2

Echocardiograms (ECHO) are the gold standard for visualizing the heart and are what athletes typically receive when referred to a cardiologist for advanced evaluation. Traditionally, the ECHO is performed in a cardiologist’s office. However, with advances in portable ultrasound technology, there is an emerging application for ECHO testing to be conducted by a front-line physician at a school’s sports medicine facility.2 At Northeastern University, a study5 was conducted utilizing this procedure and found that referral to a cardiologist was reduced by 33 percent. There were no differences between measurements obtained by the school’s physician and an outside cardiologist. In addition, research currently in review found the portable ECHO procedure to be significantly quicker than a traditional history and physical or ECG.2 This finding could potentially lead the way to a more thorough and efficient PPE process.

The costs associated with cardiac screening will always be a point of contention, but results of the previously discussed research are going to shift the discussion in a new way. It is not yet known if on-site portable ECHO testing will be a cost saving measure.  However, in theory, a reduction in unnecessary referrals should reduce the overall cost of screening. Moreover, clinicians will have the added benefit of being able to visualize conditions that can result in SCD, instead of trying to infer their presence from electrical activity alone. If we are to continue advocating for access to advanced cardiac screening, future efforts should be focused on methods and services that provide a more efficient and accurate assessment.

Resources

1. Maron BJ, Thompson PD, Ackerman MJ, et al. Recommendations and considerations related to preparticipation screening for cardiovascular abnormalities in competitive athletes: 2007 update: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism: endorsed by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation. 2007;115(12):1643-1455.

2. Kerkhof D, Gleason C, Basilico F, Corrado G. Is there a role for limited echocardiography during the preparticipation physical examination?. PM & R: The Journal of Injury, Function, And Rehabilitation. March 2016;8(3 Suppl):S36-S44.

3. Maron B, Friedman R, Thompson P, et al. Assessment of the 12-lead ECG as a screening test for detection of cardiovascular disease in healthy general populations of young people (12-25 Years of Age): a scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. Circulation.2014;130(15):1303-1334.

4. Hainline B, Drezner J, Thompson P, et al. Interassociation consensus statement on cardiovascular care of college student-athletes. Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology. 2016;67(25):2981-2995.

5. Yim E, Basilico F, Corrado G. Early screening for cardiovascular abnormalities with preparticipation echocardiography: utility of focused physician-operated echocardiography in preparticipation screening of athletes. Journal Of Ultrasound In Medicine: Official Journal Of The American Institute Of Ultrasound In Medicine.2014;33(2):307-313.

About the Author

Mike McKenney is an Athletic Trainer (AT) at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is the Medical Coordinator for their Division I men’s ice hockey program.  Prior to Northeastern University, he served as an AT in multiple settings including secondary schools, Division I athletics and professional cycling; additionally, he worked as an AT who extends the services of a physician for a large orthopedic group.  He has also provided services for many organizations to include the Boston Marathon, USA Cycling and USA Volleyball.

McKenney is a hydration and electrolyte replacement consultant for the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA.  His professional interests include hydration, electrolyte replacement, thermoregulation in sport and postural restoration.  McKenney completed his athletic training education at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota and master’s degree at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.  His graduate research was published in the February 2015 edition of the Journal of Athletic Training.

 

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Athletic Trainers Provide Psychological First Aid

 

Posted October 28,2016

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

The theme for World Mental Health Day this year was Psychological First Aid. This theme ties directly to the care Athletic Trainers (ATs) provide on a daily basis to patients. Whether an athlete has suffered a season-ending or career-ending injury or has lost a loved one in their life, the AT will be there to assist with their mental and emotional well-being.

Mental health issues can affect athletes in a variety of ways. High school and collegiate athletes struggle with the stress of homework, practice and games. Professional and collegiate athletes spend a lot of time on the road, making it hard to see their families and loved ones on a daily basis.  At any level of sport, an athlete may suffer a serious injury and feel like they are losing a part of their identity. These factors can negatively impact the mental health of any athlete, causing serious and long-term issues if they are not handled in an appropriate manner.

The next time you are providing care to your patients, make an effort to look past the musculoskeletal injury of your athlete. Take a moment and look deep down to see how they are handling an injury or their overall participation in the sport emotionally. Many athletes are experts at masking their pain and appearing strong to continue with competition. However, deep down, they may be fighting some emotional battles that they are afraid to show.

By establishing a strong relationship with your athletes, they will likely begin to trust you more, thus allowing them to share their emotional and mental problems with you as well. We, as healthcare providers, need to bring mental health issues out of the shadows, and help our patients be physically well, as well as mentally and emotionally strong.

World Mental Health Day was celebrated worldwide on October 10 to help bring awareness to a variety of mental health topics while gaining support for these serious issues. Learn more about World Mental Health Day at http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/en/.

 


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

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.

 


You’ve Earned It: Time to Ask for a Pay Raise

Posted October 20, 2016

Beth Wolfe
CAGS, ATC

By Beth Wolfe, CAGS, ATC

Asking for a pay raise can be a daunting, intimidating and lonely process. However, with the right tools, advice and support, the pay raise process can be easier than you might think. In her article, Carolyn O’Hara provides several tips to ponder before asking for a pay raise, and below are 3 adapted pieces of advice that can be useful in preparing to ask for a pay raise.

1. Do your homework. How much of a raise should you ask for? Are you making the same as your peers in the area? One thing you must also keep in mind is that sometimes pay raises aren’t possible for certain positions due to circumstances beyond your control. Ask your employer if they provide merit based pay raises or if your salary is predetermined by another source such as grant monies or contract agreement via outside provider. If your institution does not provide merit-based raises, you could still ask for a raise based on what others in your area are being paid. However, if your salary is predetermined by an external source it may be difficult to obtain a raise unless the funding source agrees to a higher salary. Utilize a national salary database such as Glassdoor, Indeed or US Department of Labor to see what other people with your same job title are making in your area and across the country.

2. Take a moment to reflect on your value.  Why should your boss give you a raise? What is your worth or value as a healthcare provider? Do you offer a special talent or skillset that warrants a pay raise? From these questions gather evidence and formulate a list of facts, contributions and patient care statistics. Statistics could include hours worked, overtime worked, patient feedback and outcomes, and number of patient encounters by day, week and month. Be confident in your list of evidence and be sure to provide examples for each item on your list.

3. Ask for advice from others in your industry. If you are the only employee at your organization, ask a mentor or peer in your area how they navigated asking for a raise. Each organization will handle pay raises differently, but at least you can gain some relevant and real-time advice instead of asking blindly. Additionally, ask this mentor or peer if you could practice your “ask for a raise speech” with them so that they can provide you with constructive feedback. A practice session can help alleviate nervousness, jitters and anxiety you may have going into the discussion.

What happens if you are denied or don’t get a raise? Don’t get discouraged; it is okay! Have a back-up plan in place so you could compromise with your employer. For example, could you have additional flex-time for extra hours worked? Or you could discuss how you could take on more responsibilities that could lead to a future pay raise. Make note of the reasons for why you weren’t offered a raise this time so you can continue to build your case for a raise in the future.

Reference

O’Hara, C. (2015). How to ask for a raise. Harvard Business Review. March 5. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/03/how-to-ask-for-a-raise.

About the Author

Elizabeth “Beth” Wolfe is the Injury Prevention Coordinator and Research Assistant for the Tufts Medical Center Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery in Boston, Massachusetts. Wolfe received her undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina (2010) and master’s in Health Education (2012) and CAGS in Sport Psychology (2013) at Boston University. Wolfe is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Health Science in Healthcare Administration and Leadership at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. A few of her research interests include bike and pedestrian safety; fall prevention; concussion/head injury documentation and coding; and performance/quality improvement programming for the profession of athletic training. Wolfe is an active medical volunteer for the Boston Athletic Association and numerous other races/events throughout the greater New England area. In her free time, Beth loves to ride her bike around Boston and participates in local rugby and softball leagues.