Jun 24, 2016
NATA 2016: Blogging from Baltimore

Check back here to read T&C Managing Editor Mary Kate Murphy’s insights from the floor of the NATA 67th Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in Baltimore. Mary Kate is armed with a pen, pad, and a list of educational seminars and will spend the rest of the week taking in the sights and sounds of the convention, sharing her observations in this blog.

Saturday, 1:27 p.m.

Welp, the 2016 NATA Clinical Symposia and AT Expo is a wrap for the T&C gang. We just broke down our booth, and we’re headed out of Baltimore as I type.

Before we hit the road, though, I got the chance to take in one last educational seminar. This morning, I attended the first two presentations of “Incorporating Cultural Competence in the Evidence-Based Framework,” sponsored by the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee. A big takeaway of both of these presentations was not forgetting about the patient’s needs and values when providing evidence-based practice. Fortunately, both speakers gave great tips on how to do this.

First, Christopher Kuenze, PhD, ATC, Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Michigan State University, discussed “Patient Values: The Forgotten Aspect of Evidence-Based Practice.” He emphasized that athletic trainers should spend more time thinking about who patients are before diving into treatment. This will help them view patients as not just a sprained ankle or torn ACL, but as a human being whose thoughts, feelings, and concerns should be accounted for. Along these lines, Dr. Kuenze emphasized that rapid return to play should not always be the primary clinical goal–patient satisfaction should also be considered. How can athletic trainers do this? Through open dialogue and patient-rated outcomes.

Next, Kysha Harriell, PhD, LAT, ATC, Associate Clinical Professor and Athletic Training Program Director at the University of Miami, presented on “Open Lines of Communication: How to Talk to Patients About their Values.” Her talk focused mostly on the importance of athletic trainers being culturally competent, and she provided five steps on how they can make progress in this area:

1. Help your patients feel comfortable: When patients come to your clinic for the first time, explain your role and what the process will be like. Be accepting of presence of family members/support network, and use terms like “partner” or “spouse” instead of boyfriend/girlfriend or wife/husband.

2. Establish a relationship: Ask the athlete how they would like to be addressed, and then use their preferred name. Have them explain their goals for their visit and let them know that they are an active member of their health care plan.

3. Show them respect: Understand, accept, and be respectful of the cultural norms that may influence them.

4. Provide information in ways your patients will accept: What cultural, religious, or spiritual beliefs will impact their health care?

5. Cross-cultural communication: Basically, this comes down to “learning how to ask.” Dr. Harriell presented what’s considered the “most important culturally competent question” athletic trainers can ask: “What matters most to the patient as it relates to their experience, illness, or treatment?”

I had to go help the T&C team break down our booth after Dr. Harriell presented, so I didn’t catch much of the third presentation: “Incorporating Patient Values in the Educational Experience” by Justin Tatman, MA, ATC, Clinical Education Coordinator for the Athletic Training Program at the University of Miami. What I did hear was very interesting, so I bet the rest was great, as well!

I had better wrap up here so I can help navigate. Thanks to the NATA for having us at this year’s Clinical Symposia and AT Expo! The seminars were excellent, as usual, and spending time with readers at the booth was a blast! We received close to 600 new or renewed subscriptions! So long, Baltimore. I’m already looking forward to seeing everyone next year in Houston!

Friday, 5:18 p.m.

The afternoon of the second full day of the NATA Convention is always one of my favorite times because of the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Johnson & Johnson Keynote Speaker. This year’s sessions did not disappoint. Another special class entered the NATA Hall of Fame this year. Each inductee has left a legacy in athletic training, but it was wonderful to hear how they are all still eager to keep learning, growing, and improving. The NATA put on a wonderful Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and the new members each gave touching speeches. Congratulations to all!

Without further ado, here is a list of the 2016 Hall of Fame class:

  • David Craig, LAT, ATC, is the Owner of Craig Consulting in Indianapolis and spent 35 years as the Indiana Pacers’ Head Athletic Trainer
  • Michael Goldenberg, MS, ATC, Athletic Trainer at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey
  • Bob Gray, MS, ATC, Coordinator of Athletic Training Community Affairs at the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health
  • Scott Linaker, MS, AT, ATC, Athletic Trainer and Partner at Arizona Sports Care
  • Eric McDonnell, MEd, LAT, ATC, is an Assistant Athletic Trainer at the University of Missouri
  • Patrick Sexton, EdD, ATR, ATC, is the Director and Professor of Athletic Training at Minnesota State University, Mankato and is currently Athletic Trainer Director of the Board of Certification
  • Gary Wilkerson, EdD, ATC, FNATA, is a Professor of Graduate Athletic Training at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga


Not long after the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, I was lucky to take in the Johnson & Johnson Keynote Presentation, which featured Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton. He shared his journey from gold medal-winning performance at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics to creating his own touring show, Stars on Ice, to his battle with cancer. And he made it clear that athletic trainers played a key role at every stop. Here are some of my favorite quotes from his speech that highlighted the significance athletic trainers had on his career:

  • On how important athletic trainers were to the Stars on Ice Tour: “Athletic trainers were all the king’s horses and all the king’s men … EXCEPT they put us back together again.”
  • A “question” for the audience: “Is there an athlete ever who could have done it without you? The answer is no.”
  • On how athletic trainers helped him recover from cancer and get back to skating: “Athletic trainers helped me break down my scar tissue, strengthen my core, and get back to life.”
  • After sharing a favorite saying about how everyone has one wing and that pairing with athletic trainers have given him a full set: “You’ve allowed me to fly.” 

Friday, 1:38 p.m.

I was lucky enough to spend the past couple of hours in the T&C booth with none other than our Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Elicia Leal! Elicia was kind enough to stop by, take pictures, and sign autographs of our T&C May/June issue (which features her on the cover). It was so fun to watch her interact with our readers, and it seemed like she knew everyone that passed by! It was easy to see that her long career as an athletic trainer has touched many others within the profession. We really enjoyed having her at our booth, and we appreciated her taking time out of her day to spend it with us!

Once Elicia left, I set off to take in the sights and sounds of the AT Expo floor. Right around the corner from our T&C booth, a sign advertising the Total Gym Jump Trainer Challenge caught my eye. Turns out, the contest was to see who could do the most reps on the Jump Trainer before failure, with the winner receiving a free Jump Trainer. By facilitating plyometric jumping, this equipment builds explosive power and develops lower-body muscle mass. Using both linear bodyweight resistance and variable band resistance, the Jump Trainer can be used for both training and rehab purposes. Cost-effective and space-efficient, the Jump Trainer is ideal for everyone from youth athletes to the elderly population, weekend warriors to elite athletes.

At the time of my visit, Michael Schwartz was in the lead, and time was ticking by quickly! So it was fitting to get a shot of the AT Expo attendee who was leading the pack.

UPDATE: Just before the close of the AT Expo, I was informed that the Total Gym Jump Trainer Challenge had a new leader–with 125 jumps! The bar has now been set super high, and I’ll update you on if this new total was enough to win!

Heading up toward the AT Expo Entrance, the sleek table below caught my eye. Turns out, it’s as innovative as it is attractive. A result of a partnership between The Athletic Edge and NormaTec, it originated from both companies’ emphasis on listening to athletic trainers. NormaTec clients have long raved about the company’s compression boots but had some trouble figuring out where to put them. Occasionally, they’d end up on the floor or draped over a training table, blocking it from use. Enter The Athletic Edge, known for its high quality treatment tables.

Together, the two companies created the CAB-090N treatment and recovery table, which made its premiere at the AT Expo. Designed for NormaTec’s PULSE Series Recovery Systems, the multipurpose table can be used from either side. Directly under the table can house two pairs of NormaTec boots, and two aluminum trays can hold PULSE Series Control Units. With a split leg, lift back, and additional, aerated storage underneath the table, the CAB-090N is a practical solution for a practical problem and perfectly blends leading recovery technology with quality and craftsmanship.

Other sights from the AT Expo that caught my eye:




Friday, 11:48 a.m.

I kicked off this morning with two great sessions on two unique topics. The first, presented by Rebecca Lopez, PhD, ATC, CSCS, Assistant Professor and Director of Post-Professional Graduate Athletic Training at the University of South Florida, examined “Return-to-Play Following Heat Stroke in Youth Athletes.” Lots has been written and implemented regarding heat stroke, but Dr. Lopez pointed out that there’s much to learn about how to get athletes back to activity should they suffer heat stroke.

Regarding return-to-play considerations, Dr. Lopez said athletic trainers should be able to answer three questions before letting the athlete resume physical activity:

  • Has the athlete recovered?
  • What caused the athlete’s heat stroke?
  • What are the needs/requirements of the athlete’s sport/position?

When it comes to the guidelines for the progression of return to play, Dr. Lopez said there are different guidelines for different organizations. But generally, the recommended path involves a period of rest, normal blood work, and physician clearance. Only when all three have been achieved should the athlete returning from heat stroke implement a gradual exercise plan.

Next, I caught Dustin Grooms’ presentation, “Targeting the Brain During Rehabilitation,” which was the third part of the broader seminar, “Neuroplasticity After Musculoskeletal Injury.” Grooms, PhD, ATC, CSCS, Assistant Professor in the School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, discussed ways to induce more efficient neural processing when training. When applied to rehabs, Dr. Grooms’ research showed that patients who changed the way their brains processed had better outcomes.

All of this sounds well and good, but how can athletic trainers go about changing athletes’ brains during rehab? It sounds like it would be technical, but Dr. Grooms gave some really practical suggestions. For instance, instead of having an athlete focus on internal feedback, have them focus on external feedback. So for a knee injury, this would mean having the athlete mirror someone’s motion or add an element of anticipation while they were completing a movement, rather than telling them to focus on keeping their knee above their toes. Dr. Grooms emphasized that there are a ton of cheap, easy ways to add external stimuli to rehab exercises, and he encouraged everyone in attendance to think about the brain in all of their intervention efforts going forward. 

Thursday, 5:02 p.m.

A few months after she was nominated for Training & Conditioning’s Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award, Elicia Leal, MEd, LAT, ATC, got a call from nominator Dawn Allen, MS, LAT, ATC, Athletic Trainer at Leander (Texas) High School. Allen said she had bad news.

“She goes, you know I nominated you for the award, right? Well we didn’t win,” recounts Leal, Head Athletic Trainer at McKinney (Texas) North High School. “I said, ‘That’s okay, Dawn. I’m just glad that I got nominated for it. And she said, “Well . . . not really. You actually won.”

This time, Allen was telling the truth, and Leal was thrilled to receive the 2016 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award, sponsored by Sports Health. However, in keeping with the selfless nature with which she has served the athletic training profession for nearly 30 years, Leal’s first reaction was to think of the friends and colleagues who helped her get there.

 “When Dawn said that I won, I was like, ‘We really won?’” Leal explained. “And I said ‘we,’ because it wasn’t just me—it was my friends, as well. I would never have recovered from my aneurysm and stroke without my friends. That’s true for the whole profession, too. You can’t be an athletic trainer by yourself. You have to have colleagues who help you succeed in whatever you’re doing.”

Accompanied by these friends and colleagues, Leal was presented with a plaque commemorating the award Thursday at the School Health booth. Her achievements were also highlighted in T&C May/June.

Since the article went to press, Leal has been showered with congratulatory messages from across the profession, all emphasizing how deserving she is of the honor. Her most enthusiastic supporters, though, could be found in her own school. “The people who were really, really excited about me getting the award were my CAP kids [special needs students from McKinney North’s Community Access Program],” she says. “They were so happy for me and loved getting the chance to sit in on the photo shoot for the article. I just love working with those kids.”

Over the course of her distinguished career, Leal has been feted by numerous organizations. Due to the spotlight it shines on high school athletic trainers, the Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award holds a special significance for her. “Secondary school athletic trainers don’t get a lot of recognition,” she says. “We go to work every day to treat high school and middle school kids, but we hardly get appreciation from our districts and states. A lot of it goes to the collegiate and clinical athletic trainers. So it’s great to get some recognition of what we do.”

Despite her continued professional successes, Leal remains steadfast in her dedication to her athletes. “The one question I still ask myself every day is: What am I going to do today for the betterment of my athletes?” she says. “That will never stop.”

From all of us here at T&C, congratulations to Elicia Leal on being named the 2016 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer! Click here to read her profile in our May/June issue. 

Thursday, 3:55 p.m.

Just getting out of a moving, thought-provoking seminar called, “What Are the ATs Responsibilities When an Athlete is a Victim of Sexual Assault?” With the raised level of awareness nationwide surrounding campus sexual assault, particularly as it pertains to athletes, I thought this would be a poignant session to attend, and I was eager to learn more about the topic.

The panelists—Lori Dewald, EdD, ATC, MCHES, Instructor of Health Sciences in the American Public University System; Don McPherson, CEO, Don McPherson Enterprises, LLC; Connie Kirkland, MA, NCC, Special Assistant, Student Mental Health and Behavior at Northern Virginia Community College; Mary Wilfert, MEd, Associate Director at the NCAA Sport Science Institute; and Timothy Neal, MS, ATC, Assistant Professor for Health and Human Performance and Athletic Training at Concordia University Ann Arbor—first discussed the myriad issues associated with campus sexual assault. Topics included the policies and procedures of responding to campus sexual assault claims, impacts of trauma, coping methods, and suicide warning signs.

A panelist then recounted the moment when she was confronted with the issue of campus sexual assault head-on—a student confided in her that she had been raped. The panelist described her role in getting the student the medical, psychological, and emotional support that she needed. It was clear from the tone in the panelist’s voice that the experience had a significant impact on her, and I think the whole room could feel her emotion.

That brought us to a question that framed this whole seminar: What should athletic trainers know about campus sexual assault? The panelists provided a number of practical, easy-to-implement steps that could both raise awareness about the issue and better prepare athletic trainers for handling it. For instance, one suggested teaching athletic training students about sexual assault as part of their undergraduate curriculum. Another recommended adding questions about sexual assault to PPE forms to ensure athletes received whatever care they needed. And every panelist shared a number of resources athletic trainers could utilize to learn more. I’m including some of them below.

For me, the Q&A session at the end of the presentation was perhaps most significant. A number of attendees shared some of their experiences with treating victims of sexual assault, whether they were athletes or students. Their testimonies revealed the complexities of this difficult concept and that there aren’t always resources for what athletic trainers have to consider. For example, one athletic trainer shared that one of her athletes was allegedly assaulted by an athlete on a different team. One situation that the athletic trainer struggled with was how to manage her athletic training room when both the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator needed treatment. There was a spirited dialogue on the subject, but it didn’t appear that there was a clear solution. As informative and eye-opening as I’m sure this seminar was for many, it was also clear that we have more to learn about athletic trainers’ responsibilities when responding to campus sexual assault.

Resources to learn more:




Thursday, 1:03 p.m.

Got a little bit of a late start on my blogs today because we had a jam-packed morning and early afternoon! My day started with the NATA’s national press conference on “Reducing Your Risk in Work, Life, and Sport: An Educational Public Health Initiative.” As part of the advanced release of “Athletic Training and Public Health Summit” recommendations from the July issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, a panel of experts discussed commmon issues facing physically active children, adults, athletes, and military personnel. There was a big emphasis placed on taking public health approaches.

The panelists and their topics of discussion were: 

  • Mark Hoffman, PhD, ATC, FASCM, Vice Provost for International Programs at Oregon State University, covered how a public health approach can be used to address common medical issues in a variety of populations
  • Douglas Casa,  PhD, ATC, FACSM, FNATA, Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut and CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute, provided examples of four successful health and safety policy changes
  • Jim Allivato, LAT, ATC, Director of Operations at ATI Worksite Solutions, revealed how early intervention and injury prevention programs can dramatically reduce musculoskeletal injuries in an industrial setting
  • Tamara Valovich McLeod, PhD, ATC, Professor and Director of the Athletic Training Program at A.T.Still University, discussed concussion as a public health issue
  • Michael Hooper, MA, ATC, CSCS, Sports Medicine Program Manager at Naval Special Warfare, addressed the benefits of implementing injury prevention programs in a military setting
  • Kristin Kucera, PhD, LAT, ATC, Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina, spoke about preventing catastropic sports injury among middle school, high school, and college athletes
  • Brian Westbrook, former Pro Bowl runningback for the Philadelphia Eagles, described how athletic trainers impacted his career. 

I think Westbrook spoke for all the panelists when he said: “I think the athletic trainers do a great job putting it in perspective what injury means and the long-term effect.”


After the press conference, I raced down to the see the opening of the AT Expo! I could feel the anticipation growing as the crowd grew larger and larger, and it was awesome to see the excitement on the athletic trainers’ faces when they were let inside the show! Here’s what it looked like from our side of things: 


I spent the next few hours at our booth (#6104…woo!) chatting and interacting with readers. As you can see below, we were pretty busy! 


As usual, it’s so great to talk with people who love our magazine. I got a lot of great feedback on ways readers use our publication. Namely, I was surprised how many athletic trainers show our articles to sport coaches–on a variety of topics, too! Whether it was strength and conditioning, nutrition, or rehab piece, I was so happy to hear how our articles were bringing coaches and athletic trainers together. Other athletic trainers said they enjoyed the variety of topics we cover, appreciated that we stay on the cuttting edge of sports medicine, and were utilizing our rehab case studies in their own practice. I’d love to hear from more readers, though, so definitely come chat with me tomorrow!    

Wednesday, 11:34 p.m.

I hope everyone enjoyed their first day in Baltimore! Some members of the T&C team were fortunate enough to take in a Baltimore Orioles game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I’ve always wanted to take in a game at Camden Yards, and it did not disappoint! The stadium was absolutely beautiful, and to top off an already great day, the Orioles won 7-2! 

I’m so excited to spend time with NATA Convention attendees at the AT Expo tomorrow. Before we get rolling, though, I wanted to make everyone aware of some exciting things that will be happening at our booth (#6104):

  • Would you like to win a NormaTec Pulse Leg Recovery System? If so, come to our booth, sign up or renew your Training & Conditioning subscription, and you’ll be entered in the drawing to win! It’s that easy! But you’re only eligible to win tomorrow, and the drawing is at 5 p.m. at our booth. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity! 
  • Anyone who signs up for a new subscription to Training & Conditioning at the NATA Convention will also be entered into a drawing for a $100 Visa gift card.
  • Training & Conditioning is launching a FREE newsletter exclusively for athletic trainers in fall 2016. Stop by our booth to get a sneak peek at it and sign up early!

Keep an eye out for our T&C shirts at the AT Expo tomorrow, and please stop by booth 6104 to say hello. Be sure to check back here for updates as the convention kicks off, and if you have any tips on where to find the BEST crab cakes in Baltimore, shoot me an email at [email protected].

Wednesday, 3:04 p.m.

The T&C team has landed in Baltimore! We got up and out early this morning and made the scenic 5.5-hour drive down from our offices in Ithaca, N.Y. (only taking one or two wrong turns…a feat for this editor who has a penchant for always getting lost). 

Once we rolled into downtown Baltimore—after plenty of oohing and ahhing as we passed Camden Yards, the National Aquarium, and Inner Harbor—we headed straight for the Convention Center. We got our booth (#6104) put together in record time, thanks to the assistance of the workers helping the exhibitors unload and set up. I think it looks pretty good, myself, (below) and we’re eager to greet all of you tomorrow at the AT Expo! 

We also got a little excited seeing this NATA sign, so we had to take a picture. Here we are in all our glory: 

Of course, I couldn’t help but take a sneak peek at what some of our fellow exhibitors are putting together. And although I don’t want to spoil any surprises, I think AT Expo attendees are going to be in for a real treat tomorrow! 

Here’s where and when to find T&C at the show:

Booth #6104

Thursday, June 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (restricted to certified and associate member attendees) 

Friday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open to all attendees)

Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (open to all attendees)

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