Aug 18, 2017Trying Something New
Let’s talk about implementing new rehabilitation techniques. This is applicable to all of athletic trainers regardless of the setting we work in.
The way I look at it, many factors influence our ability, likelihood and willingness to change what we do. Some examples might be equipment, resources, space, time, injuries, season, best practices, research, staff, patient compliance, and physician orders/direction. As health care professionals, it can be a grave mistake to change our proven rehabilitation protocols just because we see a new fad. Instead, we should really change because of research or data that supports change or because we aren’t seeing positive results with current practices. You also need to get your staff, directing physician(s), and coaches on board, especially if it changes the amount of time coaches’ athletes will be spending with you. Hopefully by this point you realize that these changes shouldn’t be made in spur-of-the-moment decisions.
As health care professionals, it can be a grave mistake to change our proven rehabilitation protocols just because we see a new fad. Instead, we should really change because of research or data that supports change or because we aren’t seeing positive results with current practices.
If you do make changes, it becomes an opportunity to shift the culture that surrounds your facility. This year at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pa., we made some changes in ALL of our rehabilitation techniques when we moved into a new, much larger athletic training facility. We also had a new fitness center available for our student-athletes, which further increased our options for functional movement. The changes weren’t major but more tweaks or refinements that weren’t an option previously. Without getting into specifics, it is safe to say that with a larger facility we were able to incorporate more functional movement, foam rollers, and therapeutic exercise.
From our standpoint, the results were positive. The student-athletes don’t feel like they rely only on our time and are able to be more self-sufficient. As a result, they feel like they have a bigger influence on their recovery and return. Further, the new fitness center enables us to change our concussion protocol components and better tailor the exertion component to more closely resemble each athlete’s sport. With a rower, an elliptical, treadmills, bikes, and a plethora of machines in the new fitness center, we were like kids in a candy store. All three of our athletic trainers felt our creative juices flowing when doing strengthening and conditioning portions of an athlete’s rehabilitation in the new space. All of these changes also free up time for us to spend with more athletes, so they truly have been positive changes for all.
Besides getting a new facility, coaching changes are a great time to introduce something that you feel would make a positive change to a team. For example, this year we got new softball and baseball coaches who both were looking to try something different. This is when we bought enough elastic bands for both teams, at all levels, and had them incorporate a short rotator cuff/shoulder strengthening routine that also incorporated some team bonding, stretching, and partner trust.
The results were fewer nagging shoulder issues, a sense of team that initially was missing, and a different mindset toward our athletic training staff. The coaches and student-athletes felt like we had a vested interest in their success and health. While this is always the case, it solidified it for some of the skeptics. As a result, the coaches will keep the bands as part of their equipment and issue them to the players for years to come. And the best part is that it was a positive change that was very easy to do, with minimal cost.