Jan 29, 2015
2011 NATA Live Blog

T&C Managing Editor Abigail Funk will be live-blogging from the NATA 62nd Annual Meeting in New Orleans this week. Check back regularly to hear her thoughts on some of the educational sessions and panel discussions, as well as her observations from the exhibit hall and convention floor.
Wednesday, 12 p.m.
We have a new front-runner for most well-attended session. This morning’s Eat It Up: 3 Things All Sports Medicine Professionals Should Know About Nutrition presentation by Dana White, MS, RD, ATC, of Dana White Nutrition, Inc. was standing room only.

Actually, I really shouldn’t be surprised. As I quickly flipped through some surveys we were asking athletic trainers to fill out at the T&C booth yesterday afternoon, I noticed that our nutrition articles were generally of great interest and our readers would like to see even more of them.

White had a great perspective on the topic as both an athletic trainer and registered dietitian. The top three areas she is usually asked the most about by athletic trainers are pre- and post-activity nutrition, do’s and dont’s for supplement use, and tips for dietary situations (including eating disorders, disordered eating, food allergies, and food sensitivities).

This was a great session to attend because staying for the question-and-answer portion allowed me to see what our readers want to see more articles about. I got some great story ideas, which you can look forward to reading in next year’s issues.

Well, this about wraps it up for me here at the Annual Meeting. It’s been a whirlwind three days in New Orleans, but very valuable for me to meet some readers and past authors who I had e-mailed with extensively but never met in person. It’s always nice to be able to put a face with a name!

Many thanks to the NATA for a great show. It was incredibly well-organized and truly a wonderful experience for me as an editor. Please feel free to e-mail me at: [email protected] if you want to share any of your thoughts from the convention or if you came across any topics you’d like to see featured in our magazine pages in the future. See you all next year!


Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.
First thing this morning I observed a peer-to-peer discussion called Secondary Schools-Development of Concussion Management Protocols for Secondary Schools. It was by far the most well-attended educational session I’ve been to, and for good reason since concussion protocol is such a hot topic.

The moderators were William “Bucky” Taylor, MEd, LAT, ATC, and Dennis Hart, MEd, LAT, ATC. Both are Texas high school athletic trainers who recently retired from providing coverage at the high school level, but are still active in their school districts. Taylor and Hart were also both very big parts of getting concussion legislation passed in Texas that will take effect September 1.

Taylor started the discussion by asking the room how many of them worked at a high school with a return-to-play policy. About half the room raised their hands. Then he asked how many of them were required to follow a state concussion law, and about 25 percent of the room raised their hands.

What struck me most about the discussion was the major disconnect high school athletic trainers have with the local physicians they refer their athletes to. Some athletic trainers said they’ve sent SCAT or SCAT2 forms with concussed athletes when they go to see their physician for clearance to play and the physician doesn’t even know what the form is for. Then, because they don’t know what to do with the information on the form, the physician sees that the athletes isn’t currently exhibiting any symptoms and clears them to play too early.

This was obviously of major concern to the other athletic trainers in the room. One of the best pieces of advice that emerged was to make sure your concussion policy is school policy. That way, even if an athlete’s physician clears them to play, the athlete is still required to go complete your school’s gradual return-to-play process.

The importance of also educating your local physicians was highlighted, too. One athletic trainer said that when her school district implemented its concussion guidelines, all of the local athletic trainers got together and went around to the areas clinics to explain to them what sort of forms they could expect to receive soon.

I’m off to one more educational session this morning before leaving this year’s NATA Meeting. My first trip to the convention was a great one! I learned a lot and it was really great to speak to some readers who truly enjoy the magazine! See you next year!


Tuesday, 4 p.m.
The NATA Hall of Fame induction ceremony has definitely been the highlight of the Annual Meeting for me so far. The ceremony itself was really well done and included video montages of interviews with each new hall of famer and their co-workers over the years.

All of the hall of famers also had a chance to speak and say thank you to some of the key people who have helped them throughout their careers. Some of the inductees were pretty emotional about receiving the honor, and I know there weren’t many dry eyes in the house at a few points during the presentation.

To learn more about the newest members of the Hall of Fame, check out the blog I wrote last week, A Round of Applause. Here’s a photo from the ceremony. Each of the new hall of famers is sitting, and behind them are the people they chose to present them with the famous green jacket. In the background are the rest of the hall of fame members who are attending this year’s Meeting.


One more day to go here in New Orleans! I’ll check back in tomorrow morning when I head to a couple more educational sessions and help the sales staff pack up our booth in the exhibit hall.


Tuesday, 2 p.m.
I spent some time at the booth early this afternoon, which was great. The people I work with at the office who come to the NATA Annual Meeting each year always say how appreciative people are of the magazine, and I found out today that this is very true. It’s amazing how many people came up to our booth in the short time I was there just to say that they love the magazine!

I also spent some time walking around the trade show floor. I’m not sure exactly how many companies are in the exhibit hall, but it’s easily several hundred. A lot of the people working the booths are very personable (I guess you kind of have to be in an exhibit hall where you’re competing with so many other companies!) and are doing their best to draw people in and take a look at their products. I have to say, the gentleman at the Mueller booth kept my attention when he performed a card trick for a group of us:


Here are a few more pics from the exhibit hall so you can get a feel for how big of an event it is. More to come later today. I’m headed to the NATA Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the keynote address by Archie Manning in about half an hour.



Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.
Celebrity sighting! I just heard Joe Theismann speak on behalf of SaniBrands Defense Sport about the importance of keeping mouthguards clean between uses. Check out that ring!



Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.

Mary Kirkland, MS, LAT, ATC, has a pretty cool job. She’s the head of Kennedy Space Center’s on-site athletic training facility, called KSC RehabWorks. Demonstrating the growing field of industrial or occupational setting athletic training, she spoke at a presentation this morning called It’s Not Rocket Science … Establishing a NASA Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic.

Kirkland arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in 1989 as an exercise specialist. But after employees realized she had her ATC credential, they started asking her about various nagging injuries and how to fix them. She realized that the need for an on-site rehabilitation facility was great. After speaking to her mentor and boss about her idea, she designed RehabWorks. Her plan was approved and officially implemented in 1997.

Since then, it’s regularly expanded in facility size and number of staff members. Kirkland credits her meticulous documentation and record keeping for the growth. Without having solid data that showed how many Kennedy Space Center employees she was treating–and what types of injuries they were sustaining–approval for expansion and the purchasing of new equipment wouldn’t continue to come through.

Kirkland was even able to document that KSC RehabWorks saved NASA over $1 million last year when compared to off-site rehabilitation visits for employees. Not to mention the convenience factor. It takes employees about 20 minutes to even get off base at Cape Canaveral, then there’s the two-hour drive to the closest rehab facility.

For athletic trainers working in the industrial setting, or for those who are thinking about it, Kirkland noted that the hours are one of the best perks. Her job is a nine-to-five, five days a week obligation. She gets weekends off, as well as holidays. Not many athletic trainers can claim the same luxury.

More to come from me in a bit. I hear Joe Theismann is in the building–I have my camera ready to go!


Monday, 5:30 p.m.

I just left a really interesting peer-to-peer discussion called Competency Assurance: The Changing Face of Recertification. There was some great discussion among the attending athletic trainers about continuing education, how education hours are reported, and the possibility of introducing a recertification test.

Many of the attendees posed questions to their peer athletic trainers during the session, and I jotted them down in my notebook. A lot of good discussion stemmed from these, so maybe they’ll get you thinking about the topic, too.

“We get good education when we attend workshops and seminars, but it doesn’t necessarily make us better athletic trainers … I may have learned how to do something new, but I didn’t get to try it in a hands-on setting, so I probably won’t actually institute this new thing in my practice. Then really how valuable was the education?”

“Should we be tracking CEU hours electronically?”

“What about informal education? We’ve all had conversations with our peers about maybe how to do something differently and I think that’s some of the most valuable education we get is from each other.”

“What is competence? Does the definition change from when we’re talking about a graduate student to a longtime athletic trainer or is it the same?”

“Do you come to the NATA Meeting to go to sessions that you already know a lot about, or do you come to go to sessions that are about new and different things you aren’t quite as knowledgeable in?”

“Should it be required that we go to sessions in each category or area of athletic training?”

“The athletic training profession is becoming more specialized. Do we all really still need to be experts in every area of athletic training? … Is it better to be competent in every area of an expert in one or two areas?”

“There is no measure of our competence after we take the BOC exam. Maybe there should be a re-test every few years.”


Monday 3:30 p.m.
This afternoon I attended an educational session presented by the NATA Ethics Council called The Consequence of Choice: Ethical Dilemmas. The presenters were James Berry, EdD, ATC, NREMT, from Myrtle Beach High School, Gretchen Schlabach, PhD, ATC, from Northern Illinois University (also President of the Ethics Council), and Kimberly Peer, EdD, ATC, from Kent State University.

Though the atmosphere here at the Annual Meeting is a jubilant one, talking about ethics is a serious topic and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Berry set the scene for the session when he asked the audience how many of us had read the NATA’s code of ethics in the past year, a surprisingly few number of hands went up.

The most common violation of the code of ethics is a breach of confidentiality. Berry said that this happens way more often than we might think. Unfortunately, it can be pretty easy for athletic trainers to slip. Berry knows this and in his own situation as an athletic trainer and teacher, he makes sure to avoid talking to an injured athlete about their injury when they are in the classroom. Even if the athlete brings it up, Berry explains to them that he is in teacher mode and can talk to them about their injury later in the day when he is in athletic trainer mode.

Here are Berry’s top tips for avoiding a violation of the code of ethics:

  • Know the code
  • Know the standards
  • Recognize when an ethical situation arises
  • Be sensitive to situations where an ethics issue may arise
  • Consult with others if you’re not sure the situation is a violation
  • Know when to report the situation to someone else (i.e. the Ethics Committee)
  • Document, document, document
  • Follow your conscience
  • Fully disclose your role as an athletic trainer
  • Consider all possible courses of action
  • Allow the athlete or patient to make a fully informed choice.

I’m off to one more session to end the day here at the convention center, a peer to peer discussion about recertification. More to come tomorrow, when I plan to also walk the exhibit hall. I’ll let you know what cool new products are here at the Meeting then.



Monday 1 p.m.
After a delayed flight, I landed in New Orleans at 11:30 a.m. The connecting plane was late coming into the airport, pushing our flight back an hour. (Side note: The Detroit airport is huge–I got a workout walking from one concourse to another!) I haven’t been able to see much of the convention yet, but here are my first impressions:

-It is incredibly H-O-T here. And it’s not that nice “dry” heat you get somewhere like Arizona. It’s the sticky, very humid heat.

-The Morial Convention Center where the NATA Annual Meeting is being held is probably about as big as the Detroit airport. Wow, this place is gigantic.

-Everyone here is smiling:) The atmosphere is very welcoming and everyone just seems so happy to be here. It’s very obvious that the athletic training profession draws caring people. What a nice feeling!

I’m off to explore this place for a bit before heading to a couple of educational sessions this afternoon. Don’t forget to stop by the T&C booth to say hi or you can e-mail me at: [email protected].

Abby will be making her first trip to the NATA Annual Meeting on Monday morning. (It’s also her first time visiting New Orleans, but she promised to keep in mind that this is a business trip.) With her notebook, pen, and program with highlighted sessions to attend in hand, she will spend three full days at the convention taking in the sights and sounds and reporting them back to you.

If you’ll be at the show, feel free to e-mail Abby with your own notes on any educational sessions you attend, your stories from the convention floor, or advice on where to go and what to see. If you aren’t attending this year, follow this live blog to see what you’re missing.

We also want to invite convention attendees to come visit the T&C booth in the exhibit hall (booth #430), where you can pick up your free show packet. It contains our May/June issue with the usual mix of articles, plus a special guide to products on display at the convention.

Remember to look through your packet for tickets–there are hundreds of opportunities to instantly win a prize from one of our participating advertisers. And by renewing your subscription to the magazine at our booth, you will be entered to win a brand new Amazon Kindle 3G!

Check back here for Abby’s updates, starting Monday. E-mail her if you have a good lead on the best coffee shop close to the convention center!

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