Athletic Trainers – a well oiled machine

24 Mar

The NHL Montreal Canadiens’ medical staff was put to the test in early March, 2011.
It was two weeks ago Tuesday night that Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty was laying face down in front of his team’s bench, unconscious.

Unknown at that moment was that the 22-year-old had suffered a non-displaced fracture of his C4 vertebra and a severe concussion, the result of being driven into a thinly padded, glass-supporting stanchion at the end of the visitors’ bench by Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

The sickening check had happened a few strides from Graham Rynbend, who as usual was behind the Canadiens’ bench as the team’s veteran head athletic therapist.

And before Pacioretty’s body had even slid to a stop along the boards, Rynbend was in motion.

In just a few minutes that night, the Canadiens showed why they’re considered to have one of the finest medical units in the NHL.

“We’re our own biggest critics,” Rynbend said shortly before Tuesday’s home game against the Buffalo Sabres, the milestone 1,000th match of his NHL career.

“We’ve ripped apart the things we did wrong, what we did right, and in the end what we did was the right call. We followed the procedures to make sure Max was safe, and thank God we did because he had a (fractured neck).”

Athletic trainers (US) and athletic therapists (Canada) are constantly learning, evaluating, re-evaluating and improving the care we give to our athletes/patients.  In sports medicine, the enemy is always time and so we are always learning ways to decrease heeling time, decrease emergency response time, etc.  We are always looking at ways to make things better so that our athletes can get back to the field of play as quickly and as safely as possible.  When a catastrophic event occurs, we want to get the injured athlete as quick as possible, assess and stabilize as quick as possible and get to the emergency room as quick as possible. 

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