Archive | May, 2011

News – Head Football AT Fired

27 May

It should come at no surprise that professionals working in athletics (coaches, strength coaches, ADs) are hired and fired on a regular basis.  This is especially true in the professional ranks and at the NCAA Division 1 level in high profile sports.   The pressure to win from pro sports fans and college alumni (i.e. the revenue stream) often hastens the process of firing due to inadequate performance on the job.

It is unusual that an athletic trainer gets fired for performance on the field.

Oregon State has dismissed Barney Graff amid growing questions and complaints about the longtime football head trainer’s work and the sports medicine arm of Beavers athletics in general, coach Mike Riley confirmed to The Oregonian.

The trainer’s tenure at Oregon State dates to 1997, the first year the Beavers football program was led by Riley, a coach whose loyalty to longtime staffers is well known.

“I think I can say we’re just going a different direction with this medical situation,” said Riley, who said he has already interviewed candidates for Graff’s position.

Riley said he met several times with Graff over the years to discuss recurring problems. The decision to let Graff go came shortly after spring football ended on April 30, said Riley.

While the OSU coach was hesitant to go into detail about individual situations, he acknowledged that football players had in some cases lost confidence in the medical care they were receiving.

I have not met Mike Graff, AT nor am I familiar with the Oregon State University.  I will not comment on this particular case since I do not know the whole story.  I will take this opportunity to write about the concerns raised in the article because in the general sense, all ATs can learn from what was written.

Behind the scenes criticism of the football training operation date as far back as 2005, when outside linebacker Andy Darkins of Lake Oswego had to give up football after playing several games with a torn right biceps.

In more recent years, Oregon State has suffered a string of injuries including former quarterback Sean Canfield’s torn labrum, former quarterback Lyle Moevao’s rotator cuff, former running back Jacquizz Rodgers’ shoulder and current wide receiver/kick returner James Rodgers’ shattered knee.

No OSU sources, on or off the record, said Graff is responsible for those or other injuries, but Beavers athletes have openly complained at times about the care they’ve received under Graff’s watch.

The disconnect, sources in the athletic department said, grew so large that the training staff was reluctant to seek outside help and opinions on players’ injuries and treatment.

ATs take great pride in their work.  The foundation of everything we provide is injury evaluation and subsequent rehabilitation.  Often our evaluation reveals that an MD should evaluate the injury, but more often than not the evaluation reveals an injury that we can probably take care of entirely ourselves. 

This pride in our abilities increases with experience and continuing educations.  The more we experience in the field and learn equates to our ability to keep more and more minor injuries in house.  Athletic trainers want to prove we are valuable professionals to have around.  This desire to be valuable may cause us to do too much and not send athletes out to other medical professionals.

What ATs need to prevent the issue raised in the article is a great working relationship with a team physician.  In an idyllic setting, this team physician would come to the training room on a regular basis to provide access for the injured athletes who may not necessarily need to make an office call.  This idyllic relationship between the AT, the team physician and the athletic department would also allow for easy access for injured athletes to the doctor’s office within 24-48 hours of injury.  There should also be an arrangment when an emergency situation arises so that the doctor can meet the injured athlete at a local hospital if at all possible.

The other issue raised with this article is the athlete’s complaint of not listening to or caring for the athletes who bring health issues to the attention of the athletic training staff.  It is important for ATs to know and care for the athletes and learn to listen to their complaints.  This skill is often tough when the hours get long, patience runs thin and staffing is low.  It is tough to listen to athletes complain about their aches and pains for hours on end, but it is what it is.  

 

Source

Skill Set – Relationships

24 May

The typical athletic trainer has a diverse skill set that they constantly develop.  This series of blog entries will seek to focus on the skill set that most athletic trainers possess in order to effectively do their job in the traditional setting.  Collectively, this skill set makes the AT a very valuable and unique resource to the athletes, coaches and administration that they serve.

Relationships

It is my firm personal belief that God created us for relationship.  Relationship with God and relationships with fellow mankind.  The most gratifying things in life revolve around relationships – life long friends, a spouse, family, etc.  The most satisfying jobs are careers that can develop deep relationships with other people.  Teachers, professors, pastors and athletic trainers are professions that can have high career satisfaction surveys due in part to the relationships that can be fostered through these careers.

No matter the setting, high school, college, pro sports, industrial, military, law enforcement, ATs develop relationships with the people they work with.  These relationships are vital to our job as we can begin to read when our athletes are hurting.  These relationships are also important to the athletes as they need to trust those who provide medical care for them.   John Maxwell said “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

In my career, I have been able to provide athletic training care to many all-star games, playoff games, state championships and tournaments.  Most of the time very few athletes know who I am and I often end up only providing first aid care or basic taping techniques to the athletes.

But at the school district where I work, there is a constant stream of athletes, teachers, coaches and parents coming through the training room asking for me to look at this injury or evaluate this pain.  80% of the time my findings are not significant but that isn’t the point.  The school community knows that they can come into the training room to be evaluated – they value the relationship.

This skill may be the most important aspect of athletic training but it can’t be quantified.

If you are an administrator/manager contemplating the value of a full time athletic trainer to your staff, don’t just look at the services that the AT provides (prevention, recognition, rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses) look at the relationships that the AT can foster with the athletes/workers.  These relationships will provide a much better environment for your athletes/workers.

If you are an AT starting in a new position, begin to foster relationships.  Get to know the athletes, coaches, parents, administration in the traditional setting or the managers and workers in the non-traditional setting.  No one will care how well you tape an ankle or evaluate an injury if you don’t develop a camaraderie first.

Elite Runner suffers a spontaneous pnuemothorax – AT plays a key role

10 May

Minneapolis, MN

Rarely does a 40-minute jog turn into a medical crisis for an elite runner.  But on the afternoon of Sept. 3, 2010, it did.  Hassan Mead, recovering from an inflamed right Achilles’ tendon, stayed in Minneapolis to train while the Gophers cross-country team competed in Utah. The injury cost him the previous track season, and he was trying to make a comeback.  Early that Friday afternoon, Mead ran by himself from the Bierman Athletic Building to East River Road. As he ran along the Mississippi River, under the Lake Street bridge, he experienced a sudden sharp pain in his back.  He assumed it was a muscle cramp. But the pain increased until it virtually crippled him.  His right lung collapsed.   He needed help.

By the time of his fateful September workout, Mead was a seven-time Big Ten champion and six-time All-America.  “I have had [muscle cramps] before,” Mead said. “Out running you just get cramped up. Continue reading

How to Promote the Profession – The Internet

6 May

Throughout this blog, I have written my opinions on why an AT should be at every high school in the US, but this blog is too small a forum to accomplish that goal.  What it will take to achieve that level of care for all high school athletes is a collective effort by thousands of ATs across the country to promote the profession.  This series of blog entries will seek to give ideas to the AT on real life ways that they can also promote the profession.

The Internet

I am old enough to remember life without computers or the internet.  I have witnessed the growth and the changes to media, information exchange, entertainment and social interaction.  The internet is a powerful thing that is constantly advancing and changing.  There has never been a better time to find information, share information or interact with people than today.  That is until tomorrow!  The internet is an incredibly powerful tool to reach and interact with people and promote the profession of athletic training.  Blogs, personal websites, forums, news articles and email are all effective means to market yourself and athletic training. Continue reading