Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two Months on the Road...A Sochi Recap

As I type, it has been two months since I've set foot in the United States.  I had the pleasure of working with the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Team both prior to and through the Winter Olympics.  The experience was awesome... but it's always good to be home. Our travels took us through Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and onto Russia.  The following are some musings I've had both during and after this experience. While difficult to capture concisely, I'll do my best to keep a bullet item style entry list.   The list is random and in no particular order of importance.

The US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation was very successful at the Olympics, garnering at least one medal in each event.  Congrats to the following medalists whom I had the humble honor of working with:
Matt Antoine:  Bronze Men's Skeleton
Noelle Pikus-Pace:  Silver Women's Skeleton
Steve Holcomb & Steve Langton: Bronze Men's Two Man Bobsled
Steve Holcomb, Chris Fogt, Curt Tomasevicz & Steve Langton: Bronze Men's Four Man Bobsled
Elana Meyers & Lauryn Williams: Silver Women's Two Man Bobsled
Jamie Greubel & Aja Evans: Bronze Women's Two Man Bobsled

I would be remiss if I did not mention the rest of the athletes who competed at the highest level; there are many that were on the World Cup team who didn't make it to the Olympics, just as there were Olympic athletes who didn't garner a medal. Simply getting to that point is a feat in and of itself; they are all shining examples of devotion to their sport and truly embodied the Olympic heart ached for them when they didn't achieve what they desired to.  Just because an athlete doesn't medal, doesn't mean that they aren't giving their all, and I think that can be easily dismissed.
Apologies to the Dos Equis Guy, but fellow ATC Byron Craighead (pictured above) may truly be the most interesting man in the world.

The Olympics were an emotional roller coaster.  I teared up more times in the past two months than in the past two years.  OK, that's not true. I tear up a lot.  But the moments were raw, real, emotional, and to be a part of that, even a bit part, will leave an indelible mark on this athletic trainer.

Regarding those who complained  the facilities/hospitality were subpar, my advice is simple.  Gain some perspective, or come travel with me to some parts of the world where everything isn't tailored exactly to one's lofty expectations.  In many ways the region reminded me of my travels in the Dominican Republic.  Applying "first world" logic to all parts of the world simply doesn't work.  I took the experience for what is was; brand new infrastructure that went up in the blink of an eye.  Was it perfect?  No...but I've yet to find perfect anywhere.  The lodging was fine; the volunteers were amazing!  Their spirit was palpable on all levels.  I'm not sure I could ask for much more considering the region we were in.  Of course, to be fair, this was my first Olympics, so if I were only comparing to other Olympics, my perspective or expectations may have been different.  The people were great, and they did their job...plain and simple.  They deserve our gratitude, not our complaints.

I felt euphoria marching during opening ceremonies.  Not sure I deserved to be there as much as others, but it's certainly how I felt walking into that stadium.  I heard many thought the sweaters were ugly, but I have to tell you, walking in wearing the letters USA on your back, amidst a sea of your fellow teammates instills a sense of pride that transcends fashion.

I may be a teacher, but this experience was a strong reminder that I am still a student; I learned a multitude of information on this journey.  I need to be better at maintaining this mindset on a more permanent basis.  Speaking of which, I have yet to find the book that explicitly guides me on how to remain a confident, assertive practitioner while also remaining open to new ideas, proven or not.  If you find one, let me know.  Better yet, maybe I should start writing it.  I should be ready by the time I'm 90.

Dry needling is not acupuncture.  But it kind of is?  I need to learn more about it, but it does fascinate me.

Athletic Training does not have to be reactionary practice (post-injury); it can be performance enhancing.

Athlete's often know their body better than coaches/therapists.  LISTEN to them.
Coaches/Therapists often know an athlete's body better than the athlete.  DISCUSS with them.  The problem that can arise is a LACK of, or complete omission of communication and open mindedness which can impede athletic performance.  We can all learn from each other if all parties knock down traditional walls of professions.  It's a complicated dance at times, but quite lovely when all parties collaborate equally on the finished product. 

Message to ATC's:  If you haven't already, learn Kinesio Taping.  Learn manual therapy skills.  Practice them often.  Be open to new ideas, but don't be afraid to voice your own thoughts...through careful collaboration, the most positive outcome for the athlete can be attained.

Contrary to some colleagues, I would argue that classic taping with 1.5 inch white tape is not a dying fact I utilized it quite regularly throughout.

My thanks to the USOC, USBSF and USM for a wonderful experience!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Ligament Discovered in Human Knee...No Biggie

Fascinating news out of Belgium...researchers have located and identified the existence of a new ligament within the knee.  The ALL or Anterolateral Ligament (seen here).  So why is this so interesting?  A phenomenon that many of us have experienced are those athletes who have trouble with stability AFTER successful ACL reconstruction.  The ligament is repaired, strength is full and equal bilaterally, and yet,  some athletes still experience occasions when their knee will "give way", or as we know it in our field,  the Pivot Shift. 

                                                                      Classic example of Pivot Shift Test

This issue of chronic, unpredictable knee instability presents numerous problems for those injured, and those responsible for rehabilitating them.  The identification of this ligament could potentially pave the way in terms of surgical techniques, rehabilitation, etc.  Very interesting stuff...I'm both baffled and impressed that a ligament has been "discovered" in 2013.    Kudos. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Urinalysis via Smartphone?

Wow.  No other way to describe it.  While reading BBC online via my app this a.m., I came across this little treat:

A couple of items which struck a chord with me:
1.  The term "consumer based health care".  I love this, and have been using it for years in my classes.  Be a savvy consumer; shop around, and collect information.  Never a bad thing at all.
2.  While the app won't be available until the end of March, and they discuss using it in developing countries, I think this could be incredibly useful in our country

Random Sidebar:  I love TED conferences.  Great info, and possibly the second most used app I use, behind Netflix of course.  If you haven't explored TED Talks yet, check them out here.  A good buddy of mine turned me onto them. 
While it's early yet, and nothing is completely substantiated, this could have a huge impact on urinalysis in the AT setting. Essentially, this has the potential to take our urinalysis test strips to the next level.   I surmise that most ATC's now own a smartphone (I could be wrong here, but it seems that way to me).  How easy would it be to download this app (at a marginal cost, mind you), and run the test strips!  This could make the referral and management process much smoother and more efficient.  

Athletic Trainer on the Mountain

Back when I was in graduate school (was that really 10 years ago?), I completed a project for an Administration course in which I mock "proposed" a fictional ski resort hire an athletic trainer.  My reasoning?  Concussions and Rehabilitation. Back in 2000, the only options a resort-goer may have is basic first aid, or a trip to a hospital.  Why not increase the standard of care on-site I say?! During the proposal, the question was posed if ski patrol should be threatened by the addition of another healthcare provider.  My response: absolutely not.  The ATC could have space near or in the base lodge; ski patrol could bring a skiier/boarder to them, or perhaps they may  have simple walk in visits.  And whom better to evaluate a concussion "in the field" or "on the slopes" than an ATC?  They could then make a referral and begin a well informed, injury management decision.  It seems to me that this would be a welcomed addition of services. 

Today's article in USA Today has brought all of this back to me.  I haven't been able to watch the documentary (apparently it will be on HBO later on), but here are a a few related clips which may help.

In fact, this idea might fit in quite nicely with the progression of interprofessional education and healthcare delivery.  

If you're interested in some good concussion stuff, check out the Head Games trailer here (the full movie is available if you have Netflix).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Back from a Looooooong Break

It's good to be back, both literally and figuratively; I just returned from Sochi, Russia working with our US Bobsled and Skeleton teams, and it was a tremendous experience, as always. Great to see the USBSF family.  To learn more about Bobsled & Skeleton, check out:   

A couple of quick hits to start the week:
This link comes via Kyle Gilson, Head Athletic Trainer at MCI.  Really interesting audio about the "Brain Bang Theory".  Check it out here, and weigh in!

Did you hear about the cut achilles tendon in the NHL?  Well, here's something I never knew existed...a sock designed to prevent such an injury from occurring.   Insight on that located here  and even more here.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

AED's and Athletic Trainers

One of the course I regularly teach is CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer.  It's funny, because almost universally, whether students or health care professionals are enrolled in the course, I always get that "is this going to take a long time?" sense from those enrolled.  I've never quite understood it, because it's possibly the most valuable tool one can learn.  It is simple, but sometimes details get lost in real life situations.  Call EMS, Begin CPR, use an AED as soon as possible.  These three items can play an integral part in the survival of an athlete or anyone who collapses at a sporting event.  Earlier this week, a local high school in Maine and more specifically, athletic training students and the athletic trainer displayed how proper training can be used effectively.   You can read about this story here. 

Several weeks ago, a physician was presenting at a conference and stated "Who are we responsible for at a sporting event?"  It was a great point.  He said we often think about providing health care to athletes, but what about the coaches, officials, game support staff, and the family and friends in the crowd?  In this case, a game official collapsed and was attended to immediately.  It just goes to show you the value of having an AED and trained medical staff on site, and in this case, a positive outcome. 

Kudos to Anita Dixon MS, ATC and her athletic training students from USM and UNE. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

MATA, Symposium & AT News Ticker

Fantastic whirlwind of a weekend that began at the Annual Fall meeting Friday for the Maine Athletic Trainers' Association (MATA).  We were treated to an unorthodox topic, which was well provided by NATA Hall of Famer Marjorie King. 

Her presentation was essentially a primer on how to maintain life balance.  I found it interesting; we even meditated for 15 minutes or so.  And, I was relaxed afterwards.  I felt clearer.  To be honest, I never would have done that had I not been forced to.   She challenged us if we were truly relaxing regularly, recommended several books I hadn't heard of, but sound interesting, and introduced us (ok, maybe just me) to the Chinese Clock.  Very informative, and incredibly enlightening.  An unorthodox topic from an ATC...and one that was well heeded.  

Then it was off the Maine Athletic Training Student Symposium in Presque Isle, Maine.  Each year, one of the four ATEP's in the state host a symposium for all students.  For our students, it's a chance to experience something different in a relatively relaxed format.  For us educators, it's a chance to catch up and visit.  It's always fun.   If you haven't seen UMPI yet, you should.  It's slogan, "North of Ordinary", is quite accurate and fitting.  And I LOVE it.  The faculty and students were fantastic hosts, and put on a great program.  Bruce Hamilton Dick, MD presented on a variety of topics.  I have to say, natural teacher and orator.  Very well presented, and he consistently incorporated and challenged students during his lectures.  His topics ranged from Hip Arthroscopy and Athletic Pubalgia (phenomenal anatomy review), to the Female Athlete Triad and Asthma.  Great, great stuff.  His time was much appreciated by all.  I only wish all of our students could have attended!

Trying something a bit different; lots of smaller newsworthy (I think) items...

In a very interesting move, the Australian Football League (AFL) will require their sports trainers and medical staff to wear neutral colors next year during games.  Is this a step towards separating medical staff from the team?  Would this catch on over here?  Hmmmmmmm.  The short article actually gives a brief history of clothing worn by sports trainers in the sport throughout the years.  Before you get mad at me for calling them "sports trainers", that is what they refer to themselves in Australia.    Very rare and scary injury; football player tears vena cava on field and survives.  A bit more information on spontaneous vena cava tear here...Let's wish him luck.  Been meaning to share this for awhile, but here is a great video and article on how universities are looking at concussions and head injuries.  A must watch is information on the  system  which starts around the 1:30 mark.   A fascinating look at utilizing technology and real time data to assess athletes.  Think an MRI is always the best way to diagnose?  Maybe not.