Posted on 3/13/2017 by Select Medical Outpatient Division WorkStrategies Program
National Athletic Training Month is held every March in order to celebrate and spread awareness about all that athletic trainers do: provide vital health care services for life and sport. Athletic trainers play an integral role in the physical rehabilitative process on the playing field and keeping industrial athletes healthy and safe within the workforce. We count on our athletic trainers to be on the frontlines in prevention, treatment and ongoing management of care for our customers.
Our athletic trainers partner with high schools, colleges/universities and professional sports teams and work closely with team physicians and coaches to ensure athletes compete at their highest potential and avoid injury. Through our WorkStrategies® Program, athletic trainers partner with employers to help keep workers on the job. They provide preventative programs and services to ensure that a company’s workforce remains healthy and productive.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s theme for 2017 is “Your protection is our priority.” Protecting our customers out in the workforce is most certainly a priority for us, and we’d like to shine a spotlight on some of our trusted WorkStrategies athletic trainers!
Heather Procopio, ATC, M.S., CEAS, WorkStrategies Coordinator
While working as an athletic trainer at various highs schools and universities, Heather Procopio scheduled her life around the practices and games of her athletes. While there were many memorable moments as she cheered, cried and helped athletes return to their passion, the common thread among all of her athletes was they eventually would hang up their cleats. That realization led Heather to transition from the athletic field to an industrial setting where she could help keep employees healthy by using some of the same skills she used with her athletes.
While pre-season conditioning is integral to athletes having a successful season on the athletic field, post-offer employment tests are key in determining whether an employee can meet the requirements needed for a job. Instead of offering advice on areas that her student-athletes needed to improve on, Heather provides vital information to an employer about perspective job candidates. These tests consist of a series of physical exercises that best represent whether an employee can complete required tasks, such as lifting, pushing and pulling substantial weight amounts, crawl under equipment and work at a certain pace without the risk for musculoskeletal injuries or cardiovascular accidents.
Victoria Vintevoghel, MHSA, A.T., WorkStrategies Site Supervisor
Victoria Vintevoghel’s dream job was to work with a Division 1 soccer program, but her goals started to change after completing her graduate assistant program. Her focus shifted to individuals who didn’t always have an athletic trainer readily accessible to them. Victoria realized the focus in the industrial setting was on injury prevention and encouraging early reporting of aches and pains. Much of her time is spent creating injury prevention programs, including mobility screens, improving strength deficits and analyzing proper biomechanics.
Working onsite in the airline industry allows Victoria the privilege of assisting baggage handlers who undoubtedly have one of the most physically demanding jobs. These men and women lift, carry and stack luggage that could weigh anywhere between 20 to 70 pounds. During some flights, these employees could be loading thousands of pounds of freight and mail in a span of 30 to 60 minutes. Since these individuals haven’t always had an athletic trainer as their advocate, Victoria has not only been able to educate them about the benefits of an industrial athletic trainer, but also make a significant change in how employees and employers view injuries that may occur on the job site.
Caroline Crowley, M.S., ATC, WorkStrategies Coordinator
Caroline Crowley’s career began on the sidelines, but she traded in her fanny pack for a pair of steel-toed boots and safety glasses. Working in a number of factories in Louisville, KY, Caroline’s day is never the same and each day brings new challenges. Louisville offers its residents a number of career options, from online distribution centers to companies that manufacture automobile parts. And as home of the bourbon industry, distilling and botting some of America’s favorite beverages generate many opportunities for injuries.
No matter what the job is, it’s Caroline’s responsibility to quantify their job demands, such as how much an employee can lift, push or pull and then develop injury-prevention strategies, like post-offer employment testing, stretch programs or educational seminars.
While they may not receive as much notoriety as traditional athletic trainers, our industrial athletes still improve the lives of their athletes on a daily basis. They help to keep employees safe at work so at the end of the day those employees can go home and do the things they enjoy with the people they love. That’s a reward that beats any trophy won on the athletic field!
Heather Procopio, ATC, M.S., CEAS, is a WorkStrategies Coordinator with NovaCare in Connecticut. Heather provides a variety of injury prevention services to numerous companies, including a medical parts manufacturer, an electric company and an airplane parts manufacturer.
Victoria Vintevoghel, MHSA, A.T., is a WorkStrategies Site Supervisor with Physio in Michigan. She is responsible for developing injury prevention and health and wellness programs onsite for a major airline.
Caroline Crowley, M.S., ATC, is a WorkStrategies Specialist and athletic trainer with KORT Physical Therapy in Louisville, KY. She provides a variety of injury prevention services to numerous.
WorkStrategies, NovaCare, KORT Physical Therapy and Physio are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Heather ProcopioVictoria VintevoghelCaroline Crowley
Posted on 2/9/2017 by Melissa Bloom, P.T., DPT, NCS
One of the many myths pertaining to concussion is that you need a big blow to the head to get one, or that getting your “bell rung” isn’t a big deal. In fact, any impact to the head, neck, or body has the potential to create changes to the neurological function of the brain, or cause a concussion. While you most certainly can get a concussion from a high intensity football game or from a car accident, they often occur after what
may seem like a fairly light bump.
I’ve seen people with significant concussion symptoms from slipping and falling on ice, accidentally hitting their head on a cabinet door, getting elbowed in the head, or having luggage hit their head while unloading it from a plane. Additionally, I see patients from motor vehicle collisions where they never even hit their head and I see athletes where no one can pinpoint a specific hit. However, these individuals may be showing signs of post-concussion symptoms after the accident or game.
Similarly, a common myth is that you need a loss of consciousness or at least will “see stars” in order to have a concussion. In fact, a loss of consciousness is quite rare post-concussion, with occurrences of less than four to 10 percent.
An invisible condition
What makes concussions more complicated is their invisible nature. Unlike a cut or even a broken bone where we can see a bandage or a cast, the symptoms of a concussion often go unseen. The most common symptoms are:
Foggy or difficulty thinking
Blurred or double vision
Sensitivity to light or sound
Changes in sleep patterns
Increases in anxiety and irritability
While the symptoms are real and can significantly impact someone’s ability to function, peers, family, co-workers and friends cannot see them.
Return to sport and return to life
Awareness and education are key to help diagnosis concussions and to help those with persistent symptoms get the proper care they need to recover. An important first step can be recognizing anyone who may be showing any of the symptoms listed above that could be connected to anyphysical impact, no matter how much of “just a bump” it was. Despite how or when someone sustained a concussion, an active rehabilitation program can help. Our concussion management clinicians complete comprehensive examinations to assess the multiple systems that are often involved post-concussion and will develop an individualized plan of care unique to each person and case.
In the past, the primary treatment for concussion was rest; it has even been called “cocoon therapy.” However, current research shows that activity and stimulation is better than excessive rest. That doesn’t mean, though, that you should go full force into your previous activities. Symptoms should be monitored and controlled; this may vary depending on the underlying factors specific to a concussion. As long as you have remaining symptoms post-concussion, having an evaluation and treatment plan set for you can help guide your activity levels and ultimately get you back to your normal symptom-free life. Treatments will depend on your individual test results, but will likely be a combination of visual exercises, vestibular rehabilitation, neck treatments, or a sub-symptom exertion program.
Common rehabilitation components
Visual exercises are provided when symptoms are due in part to your eyes not communicating well with each other and the brain. These exercises tend to involve having your eyes work more efficiently to reduce symptoms and increase visual clarity. This can involve simple eye movements or complicated tasks of watching a busy scene with many moving items.
Vestibular rehabilitation is indicated when the inner ears are somehow involved. These treatments can also be varied, but typically involve some type of head movement. You may initially get dizzier with these exercises, but they are effective in eliminating symptoms in the end.
Neck treatments may involve addressing any neck pain you have post-injury. More often than not, neck pain means that the sensors in the neck are not communicating well with the brain, leading to fogginess, dizziness, imbalance, or headaches. Specific exercises can retrain these receptors and in turn eliminate remaining symptoms.
Sub-symptom exertion training is frequently needed post-concussion. These exercises are designed specifically for you based on your heart rate, and are intended to allow the brain to safely heal and handle the physiologic challenges needed for daily physical and mental activities.
Balance and functional training may be included to make sure you are in tip-top condition to safely get back on the field or get back to work, play, and or life.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do for concussion prevention. A concussion is different than other brain injuries where there is focal damage. The changes we see post-concussion are due to sheering or pulling forces on the nerves of the brain, which in turn changes the effectiveness in how they work. Protective devices, such as helmets or mouth guards, cannot prevent these forces from occurring. They are important in preventing skull or jaw fractures or cerebral bleeding, but their limitation with concussion protection is an all too common misconception. In fact, using equipment that does not protect against concussion while perceiving there is preventative value may lead to more risky behavior and possible paradoxical increase in concussion rates.
The best thing we can possibly do is be vigilant about injuries, symptoms and being sure to take the necessary steps toward recovery. We can help you.
Melissa Bloom By: Melissa Bloom, P.T., DPT, NCS. Melissa is a physical therapist with Physiotherapy Associates in Atlanta, GA. Melissa is a board certified neurology specialist. She specializes in vestibular rehabilitation and concussion management and teaches nationally on both topics.
Physio, NovaCare Rehabilitation and NovaCare are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.