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Posts Tagged ‘athletic trainer’

Keeping a job is a good thing, especially in this day and age. It is also a very challenging proposition given the current  economic environment. Every position is being scrutinized – whether you work with athletes, work in a clinic, contract with a school, work in the industrial setting, etc – the reason for your existence has undoubtedly come into question. Fair or not – that is the world in which we now live.

So what is the most valuable trait to have in order to continually prove your worth?

You better be good at what you do – no question. And the only way to do that is to continue to learn and improve your knowledge and skill base. Whether you have been in the field for 30 days or 30 years, improving your knowledge base and your skill level is key. Continuing education is not a necessary evil; it is absolutely necessary to grow professionally.

However, for the sake of this post – I am going to argue that knowledge and skill are not the most important assets that you need to have in this day and age. What is the most important skill and asset to have you ask?

You better be an exceptional presenter!

Huh??? What does being an exceptional presenter have anything to do with keeping my job as an athletic trainer (or personal trainer or physical therapist or strength and conditioning coach for that matter)?

Whether you realize it or not, we live in a world in which communication is vital. Our jobs as athletic trainers require that our communication and presentation skills match our athletic training skills. Still not convinced?

Look at these examples and then reevaluate your assessment:

  • You are getting ready to meet with the Head Coach and let her know that her best player is done for the season.
  • It is your turn to present an in-service to the sports medicine staff at your clinic
  • You are presenting to a group of college athletes regarding injury prevention strategies that they can employ
  • The local school is considering job cuts and the athletic trainer is one of the positions that is potential going to be eliminated in relation to budget cuts – you have to justify your position and convince your athletic director or school board member why your position is too important to cut
  • You have a meeting with the manager of the industrial plant you work at to help them understand why your services are important and why they should keep your services during these tough economic times
  • You are trying to explain to a parent why participating in a sport 12 months out of the year is most likely going to cause their son or daughter significant injuries down the road
  • You explain to your patient the importance of home care and how this will speed up the healing process
  • You have an opportunity to present your business model to a potential client or business partner
  • You have an opportunity to present at the state, district, or national NATA conference
  • You are going for a job interview and at least 5 other candidates, who are currently laid off, are applying
  • (Insert any related scenario here – you get the point)

Whether we know it or not, we communicate daily. Those who have the communication skills to match their skill levels will be more successful than those who struggle to effectively communicate.

Think about your own interactions with others – you can certainly recall those who could convince you the moon is green and those who you wouldn’t take a million dollars from if they were giving it away.

I have just finished a book called The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy Koegel. I would strongly recommend that you read it. It is a quick read jam packed with tips and ideas that will help you with your communication skills. Whether you need to be effective speaking one on one or to a group, there are tips in the book that will really strengthen your “presenting” skills – no matter how exceptional or how poor you currently are.

And remember – every single time you communicate – you are presenting. Don’t just disregard this book and say, I never present in front of anyone so there is no need. Every time you open your mouth (or don’t for that matter) you are presenting yourself and the program that you represent.

As dumb as it sounds, I found myself  “practicing” my presentation and communication skills this weekend and during Easter conversations. Sometimes I made use of the tips and sometimes I was unsuccessful – in each instance however I could see the transfer from simple conversation with family and friend and how the skills transfer to the professional world.

So do yourself a favor and go buy or borrow this book from the library. Remember, your employed status may depend on it.

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stethoscopeAs an Athletic Trainer, one of the things that I take a lot of pride in is trying to provide those in my care with the most accurate information possible so that they can make the best decisions regarding their own health.

So in light of that, a study entitled The Use of a Tuning Fork and Stethoscope to Identify Fractures in the latest edition of the Journal of Athletic Training was of particular interest.

The study assessed the accuracy of using a stethoscope and tuning fork to help assess the probability of a fracture.

If you are working in a high school or other setting and may not have immediate access to x-ray facilities, this technique may be able to help make your assessment a little more accurate.

Thirty seven people with suspected fractures less than 7 days old were the subjects for this study.

The author used a 128 -Hz tuning fork, a standard stethoscope (conical bell), and an x-ray machine to confirm the findings. The author used the technique on the uninjured limb first and then repeated on the injured limb. The tuning fork was placed on the bone distal to the fracture and the stethoscope was placed proximal to the fracture.

Overall here is a breakdown of the results when assessing 37 potential fractures using the stethoscope and tuning fork method described in the study:

  • 10 of the suspected fractures were assessed as positive for a fracture and were confirmed as a fracture
  • 20 of the suspected fractures were assessed as negative for a fracture and were confirmed as a non-fracture
  • 5 of the suspected fractures were assessed as positive for a fracture but were confirmed as a non-fracture
  • 2 of the suspected fractures were assessed as non-fractures but were confirmed as a fracture

Utilizing this method, transverse fractures were the most easily detected. Of the two false negative assessments, one fracture was buckle fracture and one was an avulsion fracture.

All in all, 30 of the 37 (81%) potential fractures were accurately assessed using a tuning fork and stethoscope. Previous studies show accuracies of this methodology at 87% and 94%. Those previous studies assessed fractures of the femur and tibia. This study noted tested a wider range of potential fracture sites.

In this study, I found it particularly interesting that 100% of the potential fractures assessed for the phalanges of the foot (6), phalanges of the hand (6), and metacarpals (3) were assessed correctly.

Overall, this study provides some additional information that we as athletic trainers can keep in our “box of tools”. This information is probably of the highest value to those covering high school and club or recreational events.

The author properly summarizes at the end that a tuning fork and stethoscope cannot and should not be used in isolation when a fracture is suspected. Thorough evaluation and sound clinical judgment must be employed.

In closing, this study does validate the use of this methodology when assessing potential fractures. If this technique can help you to provide better information to your athletes and their parents, the it should be added to your toolbox.

Especially for those potential fractures that are assessed as positive, the reliability of this study gives you some additional firepower if you will to try and convince someone who may be more unwilling to seek additional care.

At the end of the day, this technique should be able to enhance your decision making process so that those in your care can receive the best assessment information possible.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever used this technique before and what have the results been? Feel free to share your experiences with the group.

Photo Credit by Biology Big Brother

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resumeCan a football team overcome a 21 point, first quarter deficit? Probably yes. (Unless of course that team was the 2008 Detroit Lions). But is it going to take a lot of work and effort to accomplish that? Absolutely. And in the end, it still may not be enough to overcome the steep deficit.

Getting behind is generally not part of the original game plan.

The same principle applies to athletic trainers and resume writing/preparation. Can you overcome errors on a resume – possibly with a stellar interview (if you can get to the interview) – but it is an unnecessary hurdle that you are going to have to climb. And it is going to be an uphill battle at that.

In this highly competitive environment, you can ill afford to shoot yourself in the foot with avoidable errors.

As the Program Manager for an injury rehabilitation program for over 13 years, I have come across my fair share of resumes and have commiserated with other managers about some of the errors on resumes that have crossed our paths. You have surely heard that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Well, in many cases, the cover letter and resume may very well be that first impression. And you want to give them a reason to call you and set up an interview.  So here are some basic tips that I can pass along to you as you work on your resume.

  • Ditch the questionable e-mail address: Again, you don’t want to create any self-made hurdles. So while your unique e-mail address may be admired by friends, it may not necessarily be appealing to a potential employer. Partyboy or partygirl@whatever.com may not necessarily portray the image to employers that you want portrayed. Keep your e-mail address simple, easily identifiable,  and professional.
  • Triple checks for speeling and grammar? Pretty basic right and yet even with today’s technological advancements, these errors still happen. And yes those spelling and grammar errors in the bullet were intentional. (Did they irritate you while you were reading them?) Proofread and re-proofread your resume. Read it backwards. Have a friend or colleague read and re-read it as well. Go over it with a fine-toothed comb. As a potential employer, spelling and grammar errors indicate sloppiness, lack of attention to detail,  and a lack of preparation. Even if you stink at spelling, take the time to look up words and have others you trust read through your resume and cover letter. Again these are unnecessary errors that can be easily avoided. You don’t need to go in with a deficit.
  • Make sure your information is accurate and up to date: If you haven’t updated your resume in a while, make sure that you do so before submitting it for consideration for employment. Make sure your contact information is current and accurate.
  • Tell the truth: There is a difference between accentuation and exaggeration. You can specifically write about what you have accomplished in a way that is positive without being dishonest. If you have a great looking outfit, you make sure that it is ironed and cleaned before wearing it, right? You have a great outfit and you want it to look as nice as possible. You wouldn’t wear it while wrinkled and dirty would you? At the same time, you don’t tell someone that the outfit cost $200 when it only cost $50. Get the point? Accentuate the positive and be truthful while doing so.
  • Active words vs. Passive words: There was a great post that I came across a few months ago that emphasized 6 words or phrases that make your resume average or even worse. Passive, non-specific words. Words that really demonstrate no action and no ownership. Employers are often looking for self-starters. People who accomplish an objective as opposed to babysit one. So whatever you have accomplished…Head High School Athletic Trainer, Graduate Assistant, Certification in Myofascial Release, etc., actively describe your accomplishments.
  • Presentation is everything: Great cooks will all tell you that presentation of a meal is just as important, if not more important, than the meal itself. You will be much more inclined to eat a meal if it looks appetizing. Same thing with a resume and cover letter. If it is attractive and easy on the eyes, it is more “readable” than a solid wall of text. Everything should be laid out with a plan and nicely separated. Put yourself in the position of the reader. You want information that is complete and yet easy to read and register. Another side note to keep in mind is that the one screening all of the resumes will probably go through multiples resumes. Make sure that the presentation is clean, clear, crisp, and stands out. Again, especially in these competitive times, you need every single edge you can get.
  • Stand out – in a good way: Aside from the presentation, you need the actual content to stand out. Emphasize accomplishments and things that you do well.  Tailor you resume to the position that you are seeking and make sure that you bring attention to those accomplishments that are worthy of attention. Well, you haven’t done anything worthy of talking about you say? Well, then talk to colleagues, professors, and other professionals about some traits, accomplishments, etc. that you can highlight. They may be able to look at you and your accomplishments with a different perspective than you. I have done this with others in the past. I have reviewed resumes and brought up things people may have accomplished that maybe they didn’t see as very significant. Get a different view. It may bring things into a different light.
  • Don’t dismiss the fluff: Most people spend the bulk of their time detailing their work accomplishments. However, don’t dismiss things such as professional organizations that you have been involved with. Don’t dismiss those CEU courses that you have taken or those proficiencies that you have accomplished. Don’t neglect some of the non-professional volunteer activities and more that you have participated in. All of these things paint a picture. The more attractive the picture, the more likely you’ll get a longer look.

These are simply some observations that I have from the years of pouring over resumes and cover letters. Some of these may be my personal preferences but I think it is pretty simple.  Put yourself in the position of the one hiring. Would you be interested in hiring you? What are your bringing to the table that warrants attention and consideration?

I would certainly recommend that you consult professional advice regarding resume and cover letter writing but you also may want to consider some of the tips laid out in this blog post.

Take care and all the best.

Photo credit by woodleywonderworks

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The Times Union(Albany, NY) published an article today entitled “370 pages of injury prevention” about a new text book designed specifically for help coaches take an active role in injury prevention with their athletes. The book is entitled Applied Sports Medicine for Coaches and was published in October of 2008.question

Here is a description of the book as shown on Amazon.

“The first sports medicine book written specifically for coaches and coaching students, this textbook provides the knowledge necessary to integrate optimal performance training with an injury prevention program. Readers will learn how to recognize the causes and symptoms of overtraining and prevent its occurrence; help athletes deal with the psychological effects of injury; and encourage a healthy lifestyle with nutrition, fluid intake, and weight control guidelines. Moreover, the book helps coaches communicate with health professionals and understand the nature of an injury, its treatment, and the injured athlete’s limits and rehabilitation needs.”

Now, I have not read this book but in reading about it, two thoughts came to my mind:

  1. Obviously, being an athletic trainer myself, I don’t think that their is any substitute for the professional care that an athletic trainer can provide. That being said, we all know that the number of schools without an ATC is large and that does not even include the grade schools and AAU, sports clubs, etc.
  2. So if there is a next best step, what is it? Education. Education for those who are going to be with those kids. As was referenced in an earlier post, Concussion Management: Have you reevaluated your approach lately?, some coaches are allowing athletes to return to sport activity the same day as being unconcious from a concussion. Unfortunately, some coaches still act as though giving medication to a student-athlete is doing them a favor. Whether it is ignorance or whatever, the fact remains that poor decisions are being made on behalf of young athletes.

So if we are not able to have an ATC on site to care for these athletes, isn’t the next step to inform schools and coaches about resources such as this? Obviously, our hope would be that every school would have an athletic trainer but at this point and time, that is simply not going to be a reality any time real soon. So shouldn’t we at least do our best to make sure that athletic directors and coaches are aware of resources that can help prevent injury?

What are your thoughts on this subject? Any other ideas that are in between the two ideas shared? Feel free to share any experiences as well.

Photo Credit, by tj scenes

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Here is the question:

As an athletic trainer, do you introduce yourself to game officials (referees or umpires) before an athletic contest?

I was always taught that prior to the contest, you introduce yourself to the referee or umpire. As an athletic trainer and a referee/umpire, this makes sense. Game officials are the ones essentially in control of the contest once it starts and it probably is a good idea for them to know who the athletic trainer is in case of an injury.

As I covered a local high school football team this past fall, I made sure that I introduced myself before every game.

However, is this practice a thing of the past? Is it important or even necessary?

So today – something a little different. I have a poll. Please feel free to respond and if you know of any other athletic trainers, those in the high school setting or those that cover games, please e-mail, call, text, or tweet them and ask them to offer their two cents via this poll. This is simply for informational purposes only – our own little research project if you will. Take care and enjoy.

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When is the last time you evaluated your approach to concussion management?

football-picWith the high school and college football season in the books, hockey season going full tilt, and outdoor soccer a few months away (in the midwest at least), this may be a great time to reassess how you manage concussions.

Well here is some food for thought to get the evaluation process rolling.

Nancy Shute, in her Blog Post for US World News Report writes about concussions in her post entitled Concussions Pose a Long-Term Health Threat to Young Athletes. She sites some startling statistics that are presented in the new January Issue of Pediatrics.

The numbers are eye-opening; 69 percent of high school football players in Minnesota who were hit so hard they lost consciousness kept playing that day, as did 81 percent of players who had a concussion without passing out. Someone who has just had a concussion is far more likely to have another within 10 days, the researchers say, and repeated concussions greatly increase the risk of permanent brain damage.

About 5 percent of high school football players have reported having concussions, but the number is probably much higher. A survey of coaches found that 42 percent think concussions happen only when someone loses consciousness, even though that’s not true; 25 percent would let an athlete return to play with concussion symptoms. Add to that the fact that fewer than half of athletes understand the long-term deficits in thinking and memory that can come as a result of concussion, and you’ve got a big problem.”

Two North Carolina athletes tragically died this past fall due to complications following a head trauma. As a result, a panel of sports medicine experts tightened the return to play guidelines for high school athletes in North Carolina.

Before I go any further, there is nothing suggesting that Athletic Trainers were present in any of these cases so this is not an implication on our profession. However, these cases really should cause us to pause and reassess how we manage concussions. 

I have included the Summary and Agreement Statement of the 2nd International Conference on Concussion in Sport, Prague 2004. This article is complete with the Sport Concussion Assement Tool (SCAT) included at the end. Here is what was concluded regarding an acute concussion: 

  1. The player should not be allowed to return to play in the current game or practice. 
  2. The player should not be left alone; and regular monitoring for deterioration is essential over the initial few hours following injury.
  3. The player should be medically evaluated following the injury.
  4. Return to play must follow a medically supervised stepwise process. 

I have also included the National Athletic Trainers’ Assoication Position Statement: Management of Sport-Related Concussion which was published in 2004.

Here is an excerpt from that statement.

“The decision to disqualify an individual from further participation on the day of the concussive episode is based on the sideline evaluation, the symptoms the athlete is experiencing, the severity of the apparent symptoms, and the patient’s past history. The literature is clear: any episode involving LOC or persistent symptoms related to concussion (headache, dizziness, amnesia, and so on), regardless of how mild and transient, warrants disqualification for the remainder of that day’s activities. More recent studies of high school and collegiate athletes underscore the importance of ensuring that the athlete is symptom free before returning to participation on the same day; even when the player is symptom free within 15 to 20 minutes after the concussive episode, he or she may still demonstrate delayed symptoms or depressed neurocognitive levels. Lovell et al found significant memory deficits 36 hours postinjury in athletes who were symptom free within 15 minutes of a mild concussion. Guskiewicz et al found that 33% (10/30) of the players with concussion who returned on the same day of injury experienced delayed onset of symptoms at 3 hours postinjury, as compared with only 12.6% (20/158 ) of those who did not return to play on the same day of injury. Although more prospective work is needed in this area, these studies raise questions as to whether the RTP criteria for grade 1 (mild) concussions are conservative enough.”

In an NATA News Release entitled 10 Tips to Reduce the Severity of Sport-Related Concussion in High School and College Athletics released April 5, 2007 offers this:

“Because damage to the maturing brain of a young athlete can be catastrophic, younger athletes (under age 18 )should be managed more conservatively, using stricter RTP guidelines than those used to manage concussion in the more mature athlete.  Therefore, youth athletes are strongly encouraged to never return to play on the same day that a concussion is sustained.”

Finally, in response to the recent athlete deaths in North Carolina (as referenced in an article cited above):

“A panel of sports medicine experts said… that any high school athlete suspected of suffering a concussion must be cleared by a physician before he or she can play or practice.”

There sure is a wealth of support that indicates that any athlete, particularly youth and high school aged,  that sustains a concussion should not return to play again that day.

What do you think? What is your current concussion management approach? As someone who still provides occasional event coverage, this definitely has me rethinking my concussion management approach.

Some of the decisions made by coaches, parents, and athletes in our absence are frightful. The decisions that coaches, parents, and athletes are willing to make in spite of our professional expertise is downright terrifying. The impetus for proper education on concussion management is paramount. Having a definitive plan of action for concussion management that is shared prior to a decision having to be made is imperative.

Is your concussion management plan in place? Is everyone on the same page? What are your thoughts? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Photo Credit, by Monica’s Dad

 

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The final part of this series will briefly address the mental aspect in relation to functional flexibility. As has been discussed in this series, Functional Flexibility is being used as a bridge. It allows the body to ramp up and progress from one series of events to another. This progression also helps the mind as well prepare for the next stage in the process.

In anything we do, the mental aspect is very important. We go out into our cars on a snowy day and most drivers would begin thinking something like: “The roads are going to be slippery.  I need to drive more slowly, brake a little earlier, and keep my eye out for reckless drivers.”  All systems are on go and ready. The posture is a little more upright, the feet are more ready, and we have a tighter grip on the wheel. Why? We are mentally prepared and this also allows our body to respond appropriately as well.

So, let’s go back to the example of the halftime intermission. Any coach will tell you that many contests are often won and lost within the first few minutes of third quarter. Coaches stress coming out strong to start the second half and yet most teams are sitting down in a relaxed position while listening to their coaches.

I’ll go back to the refereeing example. I mentioned in my last post that at the beginning of the third quarter it is often difficult for me to focus. Again I go from activity to 10 minutes of inactivity and sitting and then back to activity again. The body has physically slowed down, the heart rate is decreasing, and all signals are that we are calling it a day. Then all of the sudden we have to resume what we were doing with no significant lead in. The mind now has to refocus and get in sync with the body. I often find that it takes a few minutes to “get back into the flow”. For an athlete or someone in your care, those few minutes can be the difference between winning and losing or between performing safely and sustaining injury.

Functional flexibility can play a significant role in many facets. It is a bridge from stretching to activity. It can be used to progress that injured athlete, industrial athlete, or patient back into activity. It can be utilized during intermissions or breaks to keep the body prepared for additional activity. And finally, functional flexibility can also help individuals become more mentally prepared for additional activity requirements.

If you haven’t already, please take the time to view the video on Functional Flexibility and then your next task is to see how you can use this strategy in whatever setting you work. As we continue to strive to better serve those in our care, I hope this series has challenged you to develop some new ideas and strategies.

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