Jun 25, 2016
NATA 2016: Friday Seminars

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.

Body 2:

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. 

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