Posted on 3/19/2021
What is an athletic trainer? Often confused with personal trainers, athletic trainers are allied health care professionals recognized by the American Medical Association trained to handle the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of emergent, acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. That’s important work! Athletic trainers work primarily in the field of sports medicine and are trained to handle injuries and conditions affecting the neuromuscular (nerve and muscle relationship) and musculoskeletal (bone and muscle relationship) systems.
Now that we have a better understanding of what an athletic trainer is, you might be wondering what an athletic trainer does day-to-day. At NovaCare, we employ many athletic trainers to provide services to local middle schools, high schools, colleges and professional teams as well as club and league tournaments. Within these settings, our athletic trainers provide services ranging from:
- Education on injury reduction and management
- Emergency care and triage
- Stretching, and other hands-on therapeutic techniques
- Develop exercise/rehabilitation programs
- Mental health and nutrition needs and refer appropriately when necessary
- Create and implement emergency action plans and return to play protocols
The goal of an athletic trainer is to prevent the athlete from getting injured in the first place. In the event that an injury occurs, they examine and treat the athlete/individual and if the injured party requires further diagnostic testing or follow-up of any sort, they refer to the proper specialist and work in tandem with them to ensure proper care.
When the time comes to rehabilitate an athlete’s injury, our athletic trainers create a treatment plan and collaborate with one of the many wonderful physical therapists that work for our organization. They are also integral in being one of the first on scene when an athlete suffers a concussion. Athletic trainers provide both sideline and full concussion evaluations. They are able to conduct baseline tests which primarily measure the neurocognitive and/or vestibular-ocular (eyes and balance) motor system and help direct care to the proper specialist, communicate with parents, the school nurse and advisors/teachers when needed. As the athlete continues post-concussion treatment, athletic trainers help them progress through the return-to-play protocol to ensure a safe return to sport.
Developing and implementing emergency action plans and other important procedures regarding return to play is an important part of an athletic trainer’s role. These procedures and policies include acclimatization, inclement weather including heat management, COVID-19 and others to help keep athletes safe. In addition, they maintain inventory and assist with budgets and provide ongoing communication to coaches, school administration and parents.
It’s also important to note that while the focus here is the athletic trainer’s role with athletes, they also provide the same clinical expertise to many companies working with the “industrial athlete.”
By: Josh Cramer, LAT, Germantown Academy, Philadelphia, PA
Posted on 2/17/2021
Is your child’s e-learning set-up ergonomically correct? Poor ergonomics can lead to poor posture, resulting in neck pain, low back pain, tightness of muscles and weakening of other muscles. It can also cause headaches, tendonitis in the hands/wrists and carpal tunnel syndrome.
With COVID-19 presenting new ways in which schools are conducting class, it is important to maintain proper sitting posture to prevent muscle straining and improve attention. Age does not discriminate against poor ergonomics, especially if long periods of time are spent sitting in front of a computer. Our physical and occupational therapists offer five simple tips that can help you ensure that your child is maintaining the proper sitting posture during e-learning.
Tip 1: Ensure that your child’s feet are planted firmly on the ground. If their feet do not reach the ground, use a text book, plastic container or cardboard box for them to rest their feet on.
Tip 2: Adjust the height of the chair to ensure that there is a 90 degree bend at the knees and hips while sitting. Changing the depth of the seat can alter the angle at the hips. Consider using a pillow or rolled towel to keep the hips bent.
Tip 3: Elbows should rest gently at the side with forearms reaching just forward to the computer, allowing your child’s back to remain against the backing of the chair. If the elbows and shoulders are elevated, try lowering the height of the desk or increasing the height of the chair.
Tip 4: Elevate the screen of the computer so that your child is looking straight forward. Place your device on textbooks, laundry baskets or couch cushions. When it comes time to type, lower the device back to the desk or table. Remember, there should be a 90 degree bend in the elbows to allow the arms to rest close to thigh height while typing.
Tip 5: Kids are wired to play and move! Have your child get up and move around when given breaks during class. Encouraging these movement breaks will improve your child’s attention, regulation and body awareness to help maintain good posture during learning.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s posture or development, please contact our Kids pediatric therapy centers today to request an appointment.
By: Courtney Engel, M.S., OTR/L, and Meredith Krifka, P.T., DPT, c/NDT. Courtney is an occupational therapist and Meredith is a physical therapist with RUSH Kids Pediatric Therapy in Fullerton, Illinois.
RUSH and NovaCare are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Posted on 1/22/2021
While sports might continue to look a little differently this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety for our athletes remains a top priority. Our athletic trainers and physical therapists provide crucial education for the protection of our athletes while they are participating in their long-awaited sports seasons, as well as provide comprehensive therapy to aid in the recovery of any injuries sustained.
One of the most prominent, but often less understood, sports injuries is the concussion. There are many myths and misconceptions about concussions, but they can occur from any impact to the head, neck or body. A concussion starts with a physical impact and can be a direct hit to the head or an indirect hit, such as the rebound of the head/neck in a football tackle. The obvious hits are the easiest to recognize; however, the less obvious hits are harder to catch and may lead to missed symptoms.
While not all hits lead to a concussion, it is important that we are on the lookout concussion symptoms. Parents, coaches and teammates should be educated on common symptoms in order to prevent the athlete from playing through injury. Symptoms can include:
- Feeling foggy
- Difficulty thinking
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Blurred or double vision
The presentation of these symptoms may start showing immediately or be delayed up to 24 hours.
It is also important that a thorough assessment be performed to rule out that an injury has not occurred before returning to play. Playing through a possible concussion or missing concussion symptoms overall is a safety concern and could delay return to sport. Always think, “When in doubt, sit them out.” This assures the athlete rests initially for 24-48 hours to allow the body and brain to rest and heal.
During this resting period, to the athlete should avoid mental and visual strain as well as excessive activity. This includes anything that increases your symptoms, such as watching television, playing video games and being on the computer and/or phone.
Most concussions will resolve themselves within 7-10 days, but approximately 15-20% of patients present with lasting symptoms – most notably headaches – which may be the result of delayed healing. Initially, resting the brain helps decrease prolonged symptoms and extended healing times. After the initial resting phase, best practice is to begin an active recovery. Physical therapy intervention can set athletes up with an appropriate exertion program that is safe for the brain.
Our centers offer a variety of opportunities to work with therapists specializing in concussion rehabilitation who help to establish the underlying cause of prolonged symptoms. Each comprehensive examination focuses on the most common factors that may lead to delayed healing, including physiologic recovery (Is your brain healed enough to tolerate activity) and visual and vestibular involvement (Are your eyes or inner ears playing a role in your symptoms? Is the neck involved?).
Our evaluation and treatments are backed by evidence that will help patients recover more quickly in order to safely return to symptom-free participation in their respective sports.
By: Megan Brainerd, P.T., DPT, COMT. Megan is a physical therapist with Select Physical Therapy in Summerville, SC.
Select Physical Therapy and NovaCare are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Posted on 1/20/2021
Does your child suffer from bowel and bladder issues? If so, did you know that pediatric physical therapists can help to treat conditions including constipation, urinary incontinence, daytime and nighttime wetting, holding bowel movements and refusing to have a bowel movement?
As a pediatric physical therapist, I believe in a family approach to care and assess muscle strength and muscle imbalances in the body, specifically the pelvic floor. I address body awareness and coordination of muscles so that children can urinate and have a full bowel movement effectively and efficiently. To do this, I use exercise, proper breathing techniques for fun and relaxation, books, videos, play and biofeedback (a way that kids can get “in tune” to their pelvic floor by watching their muscles in a mirror or using a machine) to help children understand their body and take control.
Let’s talk a little bit about where this journey typically starts for a family – potty training. There is so much information on potty training methods, yet there is a relatively small amount of quality research to support or disprove most of the methods. The most successful method will be the one that both you and your child agree on. It is important that you both feel motivated and confident throughout the process.
No matter what method you choose:
- Be consistent.
- Never scold or humiliate.
- Never prohibit from toileting.
- Make sure you know where toilets are when you are outside of the home.
- Reward attempts and successes.
- Incentives do not need to be store bought; spending time together is special enough.
- Make it fun!
Awareness of bladder sensation and control begins in the first and second year of life. Voluntary voiding control begins at two to three years of age. An adult pattern of urinary control should be developed by four or five years of age. It’s not about starting at a certain age, it’s about starting when your child is ready.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2006), your child should show the following signs when they are ready to potty train:
- Is dry at least two hours at a time during the day or is dry after naps
- Bowel movements become regular and predictable
- Facial expressions, posture or words reveal that your child is about to urinate or have a bowel movement
- Can follow simple instructions
- Can walk to and from the bathroom and help undress
- Seems uncomfortable with soiled diapers and wants to be changed
- Asks to use the toilet or potty chair
- Asks to wear “grown-up” underwear
- Can sit on a potty, maintaining the physical position and attention, for a short time
- Is able to communicate bodily sensations such as hunger or thirst
- Demonstrates interest in watching and imitating others’ bathroom-related actions
- Communicates the need to go before it happens
Typically, we see children urinate six-to-eight times per day and have five-to-seven bowel movements per week.
I, too, have been on the potty training adventure with my son Devin. It is not always an easy road, and having a professional to talk with is helpful. Devin was potty trained before I was trained in dysfunctional voiding, but it would have been useful to know about massaging the belly to promote a bowel movement, deep breathing for relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, and the plethora of kids’ books about potty training.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your local pediatric therapy center to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation to assess the needs of your family’s potty training adventure.
By: Dawn Meller, MPT. Dawn is a pediatric physical therapist and pelvic floor specialist with RUSH Kids Pediatric Therapy in North Aurora, Illinois.
RUSH Kids and Novacare are part of the Select Medical family of brands.