Category Archives: Athletic Therapy

10 things I’ve learned in 3 years

About 3 years ago I started marketing my skills to a population I was familiar with. 

Within a few months I was running a small, client focused business. Starting with weekly fitness classes advertised to one specific group, and then a research project based on the same group. I found my first few regular clients- who have stuck by my side to this day. Then came doing workshops and seminars- a handy asset to working with niche populations. 

A year later I began marketing my practice as a Kinesiologist and Movement specialist, and soon after that branched from my niche market into my first location in a rural gym setting as the clinician. Then, not long after that, I certified as an Athletic Therapist and continued to run my rural practice and mobile based business. Last fall I found my first city location and cut down my mobile practice to settle into a set location. 

I messed up my first window decal. I was so tired a few times I napped on my table in between clients. I still spend almost as much time travelling to new rural contracts as I did when I was a purely mobile based business- just a little smarter now with my scheduling (most of the time). It took me 6 months to build a steady client base in the first location, and now at almost the same in my city spot I am building a steady base here. Within the first 6 months I was also lucky enough to take on my first associate,  a fellow AT to fill the empty space while I’m bouncing between locations. 

I knew early in my University career that I would be better of being self-employed. I already had a strong sense of what I wanted, and where I wanted to go (although, that has changed over and over again through the first few years already). The idea of taking my own risks and building my own successes never scared me, however I did learn much more then I thought I needed to know way back as a 2nd year. 

Approaching my 3rd year working for myself, I am proud that my own business is now my main source of income. This Spring will be the first spring I am my own contractor, having phased out my part time positions and only kept the contracts that allow me to do me, and build Integrative. 

The last few months I’ve been reflecting on my purpose and my visions- and with that has come some enlightening memories and lessons from the first few years in business. So, in no particular order… here’s some of the things I’ve epiphanied on.. 

Quadruple Check your Marketing Materials

I mentioned earlier how I messed up my first window decal. Before that, I messed up my first big order of business cards. Seriously- there is possibly no more humbling experience then excitedly opening your latest vista print order and realizing you’ve made a typo, ordered the clear backdrop instead of the white on (when your logo has a white square behind it), or put the wrong credentials in the wrong place. Check it once, sleep on it, check it 40 more times.. then press check out. 

Treat people honestly and with integrity

And they’ll be your clients forever. This seems super obvious, right? Unfortunately in the health care professions I’ve seen and been hearing from clients that it’s a rarity. And I’ll admit, sometimes it’s not easy either. Health care professionals are hugely prone to burn out, and we are human. However- does this make it okay to write of a patient because of a first impression, or forget to listen to their whole story and perspective just becuase we think we’ve heard it all? Not really. I’ve had clients in the last few years that frustrate me, throw me under the bus, or give me a certain impression right off the bat. Ultimately, it’s not your job to babysit clients… and sometimes you’ll get blamed for that. But you know what? 9/10 within a few sessions of dedicating an effort to hearing them out, giving them every chance, and guiding them towards what they’re really trying to express- the whole picture changes. No matter what business you’re in, or what kind of clients you’re dealing with… often giving them a few chances to really open up to what they need from you is hugely beneficial for them and for your business. For that 1/10 clients that wasn’t happy, caused an issue, or wrote off the plan… well, they were great learning experiences.. and just a part of this thing we call humanity. Roll with them, and you never know.. they sometimes show back up at your doorstep. I’ve had clients that expressed interest years ago, and are now just making the decisions for themselves to come see what I can offer them. Something they definitely won’t do if you also wrote them off. 

It’s okay to take a day off…

Adding to the above point… sometimes we DO get burnt out, or have a day where we just are not up to dealing with our day. Someone asked me not too long ago if I ever take days off. The answer was yes, but I don’t schedule them (except for Sundays.. step back from my Sundays!). Guaranteed if I schedule set days off those will be the day I get the most booking requests, or have a board meeting scheduled. I’ve noticed that days off come naturally. Either the weather makes it impossible to drive to clients, all my clients go on vacation seemingly simultaneously, or my body tells me I need a day. Listening to what is presented to you is HUGE, and nobody will blame you if you cancel on them with good reason once in a while. For someone who works generally 60hr weeks over 6 days, majority of the year… I have yet to have anyone write me off because I called off a day or two here and there unexpetedly. I love what I do, but in order to do what I do well- I HAVE to make sure I’m at my best. I am also quite blessed with great clients who make my day to day work an inspiring time. Rarely do I actually WANT to take a day off from that! 

Never. Stop. Learning. 

Yes, conferences are pricey and textbooks are boring, and there is always too much to read when it comes to articles, social media, and other professionals’ work. HOWEVER… when I start getting stale or bored with my treatment plans, or fall into a rut.. they only thing that drags me out is new material. I come back from workshops completely and utterly fascinated by what I do again, and refreshed. For a week or so I talk way too fast and regurgitate so much information into client’s ears they usually leave wide eyed and terrified.. but I have fun. It’s a great burn out prevention method… and an easy way to feed a travel addiction, with business write-offs ūüėČ 

Triple check your schedules and review your day the night before

My intern calls it the “classic Kathlyn” when I text her that I’m running late or have completely reworked my day last minute. I’ve been doing this since high school, booking myself silly and then wondering why I have days where I am running non stop and never on time for anything. I definitely still do this- I genuinely think it’s just part of my charm, apparently. I have learned that if I review my numerous schedules the night before, and remind myself what my motivations are for the next day. I also make sure I’m syncing my schedules every few days. Slowly but surely I’m less and less late for things… slowly.. but surely.. 

It’s okay to not have an answer, and it’s okay to not be cookie cutter.

There’s been so many times in the last few years that I’ve just not had a clear answer, or needed to go research, or had to explain something that I was still trying to understand myself. This is one things I’ve really come to appreciate from my University program.. they not only taught us thoroughly on the theory, but on having confidence in our explanation (even if we were internally freaking out). It’s okay not to know. And, it’s okay to be saying something different from what someone else has said. In the health care world, every specialist is likely going to say something different. If my decision doesn’t match theirs, it doesn’t mean that either one of us are wrong.. therapy, rehabilitation is all about trial and error sometimes. While balancing a patient’s mental state and keeping everyone involved motivated. There is absolutely no cookie cutter approach to this.. and that is perfectly fine with me. It wouldn’t be pretty blasais otherwise, no? 

Learn to decipher when it’s the pain talking, and when it’s your client’s real personality. 

I’ve begun working with more and more patients with chronic pain. The first few sessions with these patients is always a battle of “I’m pretty sure they hate me” running across my mind. I’ve realized that they probably don’t have a huge opinion on me as an individual. They’re coming to me in a place of frustration, exhaustion, and chronic levels of pain. They have bigger fish to fry. They’re short speaking style, closed off personality, and questioning is more then likely a defence against what they’ve already experienced within the system and through their injury or condition. My only job is to try and change they’re perception of the pain, and treat them as a fellow human being. It’s not my place to take anything personally, as a professional- only to listen to their reactions and adapt my treatment plan to best suit their state. They come around, they always do- some in less time then others. Some even without quick changes in their symptoms will appreciate your effort and care more then anything, and this usually is the key in unlocking the doors they’ve closed off against people trying to help. 

It’s okay to charge for what you love to do. 

This one is a constant internal battle. Probably my biggest insecurity is asking people to pay me. Or telling people pricing. I truly love what I do, seeing patients improve is usually my greatest reward (cheesy, shuddup). However, I also have aspirations and travel plans, and bills, and rent, and expenses like food and hydro to pay. Oh, and a car. And an affinity for Starbucks. I’ve also recognized that 95% of clients value my work and want to pay me for it. They don’t hesitate to pay for the service they’ve booked. If anything I’m always the one making it an awkward exchange. If you take pride in what you do- show it by pricing yourself accordingly. One thing I wish they taught us more in University was how to price our services accordingly to their value, and the standards in the province. Underpricing leads to undervalue, while over pricing gets missed in the market. It’s a fine balance. 

Connect Connect Connect!

We live in an age of word of mouth. Whether it’s shares on social medial, tagging, or regular face to face meetings.. other people’s opinion of what we do business wise is uber important to success (yes I said uber). This isn’t something that’s taught very often. I think it should be. About 15% of my current client base found me over social medial, another 30% or so found me through events and educational workshops.. the rest found me from word of mouth referencing. Every percent counts when you’re building, so don’t take for granted the power of a good social media presence, a solid networking plan, and impressing every client in some way. Being able to network comes from a place of having a sense of your purpose. Having drive and having a deep seated passion for what you do, and where what you do can take you. Big or small. People love people like that. People you want to network with, anyway. Learn how to sell yourself, and exude confidence in what you have to offer on any front- while remaining humble. Tough at first, especially for someone more prone to the intervertebral side of the spectrum- but once you learn it it’s like riding a bike. 

Stay professional, especially when people surprise you

As with anything there will be haters. There will be those mimicking and those trying to intimidate. There will be personal things coming into business ordeals. Humans will be humans. I’ve learned to take a neutral approach to everything. Rarely is something directed at you actually about you…. so why be effected by it? We’re all a reflection off the people we interact with, after all, so how they react or act is generally them expressing their own issues- not attacking yours. Beware of these people, but don’t engage. Engaging feeds a fire that is better left to simmer on it’s own. You do you, boo. 

 I think the biggest lesson that’s come out of all these little ones is that staying true to myself, and what I value as my purpose, has to come above all other things. Doing my job when I’m not in top form doesn’t do anyone good. Not only do I lack energy and intuition with my clients, they don’t draw the same value from my side of the deal. It’s okay to step back and rejuvenate once in a while, and it’s even more important to do regular maintenance on yourself to prevent burn out on ongoing fatigue. Self care is a huge enhancement to your business! 

Living and learning, everyday. I’m still completely enamoured by my career and excited to see what’s coming in the next few years. Every year comes with new exciting developments (every week, sometimes!).


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What kind of Therapist do you want to be?

When I first started practicums (which feels like ages ago), my first supervisor told me to “work under as many different therapists as you can” to see different styles and ways of working alongside different clientele and focuses. Since then I’ve worked in numerous clinics under different ATs and even a Chiro/AT. I’ve attended extra seminars and conferences, and begun my own training and movement client base under the supervision of my mentor. I took that advice to heart and tried my best to learn and observe a variety of treatment styles, even if they didn’t always match up with my own philosophies. What better way to learn and grow your own ideas then to experience other’s ideas?

Recently, after a discussion on different treatment styles, philosophies, and options, ¬†I was asked by a young patients mother what kind of Therapist I wanted to be. After close to 4 years observing, practicing under supervision, and interning… you’d think I’d have a fluent answer to give. Yet, I struggled with my answer. It’s not that I don’t have an idea or a perception of who and what I’m becoming as a professional, but it was how to describe it.

The thing with the profession I’m in is that pretty much every successful and practicing AT/Kinesiologist I’ve met has the same vision for¬†what we do. Varying ways to get the same thing done. Yes, personalities and treatment styles are different.. but the atmosphere and goals are generally the same. Some may focus more on manual/soft tissue work while some my focus more on movement modalities. Some attend conferences and seminars on one thing, while others attend with interest in another. But at the end of the day, they all want their patients to get better, be better, and live better. They accomplish this with patient education, continuing ed for themselves, evidence based treatments, and knowledgeable¬†exercise therapy programs.

So.. what kind of therapist do I want to be?

Early on I recognized I had a love for solving a problem and improving performance. This is one reason I fell in love with biomechanics and movement correction. Not only do these areas benefit athletes of all levels, they are practical and useful to general population clients as well. I’ve always had a thing for teaching and empowering people, which has blossomed as I’ve progressed into this career choice. The past month or so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a client progress from being unable to walk without the support of crutches and deal with two legs that just would not do his bidding to being able to walk across the room standing up straight, unsupported. His renewed positivity and insatiable drive to keep improving is inspiring and motivating to say the least. Every patient or client I have that realizes their own ability to improve themselves is something that inspires and motivates me. I’ve realized more and more lately how blessed I am to have found a career that enables me to empower others, and also brings substance and meaning to my own life. This is something I’m very grateful for.

Of course there are days where I’m tired, I’m unmotivated, and I’m nervous for my upcoming certification exams. Some of those days I still end up working with clients, or doing my jobs.. and I always come out of the day feeling better and a little more motivated. Leading up to my exams this fall, I am both nervous, and excited. I know I have a solid base to support me and I have a preparation plan leading up to the actual exams. More then anything I feel undeniably ready to take this next step in my career path. As someone who is always about 5years ahead of herself, this exam is only a doorway to the next thing.

I want to be a therapist that is inspiring, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. I want my clients to leave sessions feeling like they have the tools to help themselves. I never want to stop learning, or lose the ability to adapt to each patient and work in a style that best suits them. I want to be a chameleon therapist that can fit into anyone’s mindset, see through their eyes, and change their perceptions on their body, health, and lifestyles if needed. I want to promote my profession and help change the way the world views healthcare. I want to help athletes better themselves and be the best they can be. I want it all, and I’m determined to get it.

This week I completed my interning hours and finished my last university course. 1200 hours plus some in clinic and field on top of 4 years in University, all leading up to this fall’s exams. I have an excellent support system behind me, and an every better vision for who I want to become. I think it’s a question every aspiring AT should ask themselves… what kind of therapist do I want to be? The way to finding the answer takes blood (usually other’s), sweat and tears.. but as any journey often is.. it’s worth it. Here’s to the next step in this adventure!

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Student Therapist Thoughts: The things you don’t learn in class

Arnheim’s Principles of Athletic Training list communication, stamina, empathy, sense of humour, intellectual curiosity, and ethics as the qualities necessary for an AT.¬†What isn’t listed? The ability to self-motivate after a 14-16hr work day. All the multi-tasking. Being an educator, first-responder, student, personal trainer, counsellor, life coach, strength coach, nutrition advisor, substitute mother, and clinician all in the same day (sometimes all in the same hour). Self-promotion (most graduates are not walking into a job), and an excellent time manager (which includes keeping yourself sane).

As a intern, almost graduate, and someone who is attempting to set up their own business in a niche market that has been, for the most part, untouched by athletic therapy thus far.. these are all skills I’m developing on the fly. It’s not uncommon for me to hear from the clinicians I work under things like “you know what you don’t get taught in class..”, followed by any number of skills such as dealing with difficult patients, or insurance companies, or technicalities of charting or running a clinic. The skills and qualities I listed above often are seen as a given requirement, or a make it or break it set of abilities for young students or therapists. Many find that by the 3rd or 4th year of their studies, they aren’t cut out for the demands of this profession. Like any career, the ones who take a vested interest in personal development for the sake of their profession are usually the ones who thrive… and have fun while doing it.

In the clinic, working my way through the internship hours, I’ve found many things that are not even touched during lecture time. Including the silliest of things like getting cervical hot packs into the corresponding insulators, not getting adhesive IFC/TENS pads stuck to yourself while trying to apply to a patient, and not getting ultrasound gel everywhere. In the field, what they don’t teach you is that real live injuries don’t present themselves like the ones in your exam do (that goes for clinic too, actually), not every coach or parent will be convinced by your education, knowing how to interact with teenage athletes, the glamour of glove sweat, knowing how to layer appropriately so you will stay warm and be able to assess, tape, and stabilize too, and no matter how much you tell yourself you won’t lose your penlight.. you will always lose your penlight somewhere in the depths of your fanny pack.

All those things and more are things you learn when you step out into interning at various placements. You pick up little things here and there from the different therapists you work with (and all you upcoming students out there.. work with as many as you can!), and the different teams and events you frequent. You’ll learn that when you’re covering different events the sense the moment when athletes realize who you are and why you’re there (its usually signalled by the sudden onset of EVERYONE wanting ice, tape, a bandaid, or an ache assessed- most common with ages 17 and under). You’ll also learn how to manage burn out (in both yourself and your patients/athletes- often simultaneously), eating a half way balanced diet between time commitments, and how to carry a med bag, crutches, a coffee, and sometimes a table all in one trip.

When it comes to setting up your own image and stepping out into uncharted waters.. everything is fair game. Picking the brains of your mentors is the closest thing to a text book. Even then, figuring out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting your brand out there is touch and go. When you’re already promoting¬†and part of a newish aspect of the health care system, working your way into a sport that is just beginning to integrate the skills you bring adds an extra challenge. What I’ve learned so far is that word of mouth is the best marketing. One happy client leads to another. Knowing ¬†how to promote yourself online, and present yourself in person are key. Even more¬†important¬†is knowing how to sound like you know what you’re talking about even when you feel like your brain has melted. These things go for any young professional in any business. I see so many people around my age out there rocking their own ideas and making things happen for themselves, and I see just as many stuck doing other things. Kudos to all those out there doing what they do and loving it. Even with all the unknowns, learning curves, and long days.. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

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Re: 2014… An open letter to myself

I usually do a Top 10 of the year to bring in the New Year, but this year I thought I’d do something a little different. In place of a list, here is a letter written to myself on the past 12 months.¬†

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Dec 31, 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, you are reliving countless moments from the year past. Most of them good, some of them not so much. 2014 began for you with fate halting you in your tracks (quite literally), with a broken leg and a ambulance ride (this post has more detail). You probably won’t ever forget that night.

The year continued as your leg healed and your eyes were opened to new things and new experiences. 2014 was a busy year for you, in almost all areas. You began work on your own brand with Katmah Training, starting out with a strength and conditioning class for riders- and, now at the end of the year, you find yourself promoting biomechanics and position assessments, booking group clinics for riders on biomechanics, and working on your own research project. Not a bad progression. As spring came and your leg continued to mend- you had to deal with some fear around getting back in the saddle. By refusing to let fear control your season, you pushed through and got yourself through one of the toughest competition seasons of your life which brought true meaning to the saying “sweat, blood and tears”- and even made the transition from hunter land in the the jumper ring (why you chose to do this while recovering from a broken leg and nerve damage is still up for question).. all the while having great support from your teammates and now close friends M and L, your coaches, parents and boyfriend. As the show season ended, and your fear became less- you faced another hurdle when you made the decision to sell your long-time teammate Will (see When you know, you know¬†for more on this). This meant letting go of yet another fear and letting yourself let go of the belief that taking a break from the sport meant giving it up forever, or that it made you any less of an athlete. Again- the support you had from those close to you was outstanding. Without these people- what you did this year probably wouldn’t have been possible. One of 2014’s biggest marks was likely showing you how much you appreciate the people in your life.

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Academically, you faced the most challenging year yet. However, you surprised yourself with your dedication to your studies and the profession of athletic therapy. You realized you’ve found your calling, and you began to see your own potential. You took on a leadership role in your student association, and a few teaching assistant roles. Early in the year you even applied to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for their AT-student internship, but fate had it that you were meant to stick around home this year. Instead you began your own research and focused your in class work towards the equestrian sport. In the field you spent the spring covering the MB Winter Games (click here for more on that experience), and football. Summer brought working at the Winnipeg Folk Fest, the Morris Stampede, and then more football, basketball and hockey in the fall. You were the main therapist with your football team this year, and got to see a truck load of injuries. Unfortunate for the kids, but excellent for your confidence levels in the field (this and this are good reads on how your football seasons went.¬†)! You even got published again by CATA with your post Meet Your Athletic Therapist. As an executive¬†of the student association, you were also lucky to attend the first annual Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health Fundraising Gala. This event inspired you and kept you in love with the ever growing profession of kinesiology in Canada. The passion of those involved in it is slowly but surely making it a well-respected part of the health care system.

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Other then being swamped by football, you were also working in the clinic(s), manning the student association, teaching, and taking the four final AT courses, and then hockey. While the entire year had it’s ups and downs, the fall took a lot out of you. While the summer made you feel like you were living a double life, being both the athlete and the therapist, the fall flew by until sh** it the fan for about 2 months straight. This is usually how you experience burn out, and you’re finally starting to understand the pattern. First your car got broken into (and all of your ID and medical supplies stolen). Then you got some marks back that demonstrated a clear case of burn out, and your leg began acting up more then necessary. Then your car got towed (you hoped it’d been stolen). Following this, and numerous breakdowns, you headed into final exams while simultaneously facing the end of your first major relationship. Oh, and then your car broke down and completely died. Ya think the universe was sending clear enough message?¬†This post gives a longer summary.¬†Here, again, you got a front seat view of how much support you have within your different circles. M and L, your riding teammates, didn’t just stop being your friends when you left the sport- they stepped up in a big way for you this fall and winter. Your parents were endlessly supportive, as well as all your friends and colleagues at school. Even through closing the chapter on your relationship, J remained a big support and friend for you too.

When you look back at 2014, it’s easy to see that it was a year of learning (as every year is) for you. Learning took place in new areas. You were forced to deal with many emotions and feelings you either hadn’t given time for (love), or had locked away (fear). You proved your ambition within your career, and that is paying off looking into the new year. Before the year ended,¬†your research took off and you began to form your own biomechanics program for riders. While it’s in the early stages, it will come in handy for the few clinics and talks you’ve been booked for early in 2015. It was very much a year of growing pains, in pretty much every aspect of your life- whether it be sport, career, or personal life. After getting through December full of exams and focusing on your research before taking some time off around Christmas, you road-tripped out to Lake Louise with your cousins. You definitely couldn’t afford this excursion- but your head thanks you for it. It was a great way to hit reset and bring in the New Year.

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As the clock nears midnight, you’re sitting in the Fairmont Chateau watching rich people in velvet suit jackets get progressively more confident on the dance floor (it’s as entertaining as it sounds). You have a fresh mindset on many things, and are looking forward to 2015 as a exciting year for you. Right now you have plans to work the Scotties tournament, the National Badminton Championships, and are starting in a few new clinics. You will continue with hockey, now with a younger student shadowing you, be a teaching assistant in two new classes, continue your own research, and come spring return to you beloved football team. You are done course work now, with just two humanities left to finish- which means your schedule is much more flexible and coordinated to your AT life. You will return to MORFit, after a month off, continue running your own business, and tutoring. With a little more wisdom when it comes to scheduling (we think) you will get back into the gym and yoga on a regular basis, because you know it’s what you need– that time for you– to stay sane and keep the Universe off your back. Since you aren’t riding competitively anymore, you need to find other ways to keep your body moving and your mind settled. Hopefully you’ll make it to this years CATA conference in Halifax, and surely you’ll find some new adventures to fill your summer with. This will be the first summer without a heavy training and competition schedule to keep you busy- but also the summer before you challenge the national certification exams. ¬†After reflecting on 2014, you’re grateful for all the things it’s shown you- and are welcoming 2015 with a smile!

For future reference- practice gratitude everyday, it’s one of the things that kept you going through the low points of 2014.

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The tale of a cursed AT.. School post #3 (or 4?)

Long time no post. Football took off like a rocket and had me running for the last month or so. Injuries galore!! My poor rookie team took a beating this season, and their first and last playoff game was no piece of cake.

About three weeks ago in a game we used every single splint we had, and one kid we thought fractured his already casted hand… again. After that game I had a week or so of absolutely nothing, which was odd. Turns out it was just the calm before the storm. My next week started with an ambulance call for c-spine at practice. I had been driving away from the tail-end of practice when I saw a kid go down and not get up before I drove away. So I backed back into my parking spot and headed over where a coach had been and left him sitting in the field alone. He was sitting up and had his helmet off when I got to him so I began chatting with him. His helmet had been slammed into the back of his neck when he was forced into extension in a tackle. All his pain was around C3-4. No neurological symptoms or referred pain, and good strength in the extremities. At this point in time I was sitting on the field with him, one hand on his head half stabilizing c-spine, while trying to get a coach’s attention (they were on the far side of the field and not listening). So finally I just told the kid to stay as still as he could and went and consulted with the coaches. My only option really was to call an ambulance as I didn’t want to just send the kid home, but was pretty sure he was just bruised too. So, thats what we did. In a weird, unorganized way, I got the kid to my table, got his equipment off and had him laying down while I had one of my injured kids run around and get my phone from my car (which was full of laundry… awkward), and called an ambulance. The coach called the mom while I stabilized, dealt with the fire fighters (who were cute but clueless), and then finally the paramedics. Luckily I ended up knowing one of the EMTs, as the other one who didn’t know me tried to boot me out of the boarding process at c-spine.. the paramedic I knew stuck up for me and I ended up getting to lead the boarding process! The kid ended up being just fine and was back into play a week later.

Our final game brought two more splint and referrals, plus many runs onto the field. A friend of mine who is a photographer came and took quite a few trainer shots- which was pretty fun!

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My most embarrasing moment EVER occured in this game when I got a player off the field with a possible tib/fib fx and was beginning my assessement by taking off his cleat and sock (super carefully as this kid was losing his mind with pain). I finally get everything off and ask him to wiggle his toes.. and he sits up and looks at me and says.. Sure, I can do that. this foot feels fine.. it’s the other one.

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Of course the entire team, plus Nikki, plus the doctor were all standing there. After this it all went smoothly until I was trying to tput together a new splint… Those things are not as easy as the old ones we use for practice! Not much of a “speed” splint.

I also had a pretty sweet dislocated thumb.. The athlete was generous enough to let me take a picture of it!

**I’ll post later pic later…my phone is dying!**

After all this I had a couple days off, where I had all of my stuff stolen (stupid downtown), and then got to attend my first hockey game with a new team no fanny pack (I felt naked). There was no such thing as an easing in peirod as within 3 minutes I was out on the ice for the other team. As the ref escorted me the players surrounding the kid down kept yelling “his leg is broken, it’s his femur!!!”. All I could think was “there is no flipping way this kid broke his femur.”. Granted, I am under some sort of curse currently, that would still be a stretch. So I get to him, and he’s freaking out. He slid knee first into the boards and was now having severe pain mid-proximal thigh. He had very limited will to move, and after talking to him for a couple minutes and palpating what I could I called the “team doc” out onto the ice. This is a parent who told me all his credentials about 4 times upon meeting me. Anyway, he came out and agreed that it was unlikely it was broken but maybe x-rays were a good idea anyway. I love when the doc agrees with me! So we got him off the ice and into a change-room and an ambulance was called. I thne left the doc and parents with him and went back to my bench where I got to deal with a VMO strain, a puck to the thumb, and a likely trap strain. Apparently this is the most injuries they’ve had in one game ever. Usually this amount is spread over 6 games. Cursed, I tell you!

So now I have a couple weeks to unwind, as they don’t play until November again.. and football is done (I miss it already..). What do I plan on doing? Catching up on all the school work I’ve neglected, replace all the things I had stolen (all my ID and personal info, my business cards, my medical equipment…sigh), and maybe even taking a couple mental health days to get rid of this “curse” I’m apparently under.

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What I’ve been up to lately…

It’s been a while. I’ve been busy taping teenagers together, writing midterms and reviews, tutoring, managing the political side of student life, and starting personal research projects and (wait for it) relaxing on weekends (sometimes).

First things first, we’ve made it to the end of regular season football. The last three weeks brought some pretty busy games for me. In one game I used all of our splints. The game before that my injury report when on for pages. There was actually a brief period where I thought I wasn’t going to have a team left to work with by this point in the season. However, being the underdogs that we are, we’re surviving and are facing our last regular season game tomorrow before heading into playoffs. I had one week where I had no injuries, which was a very odd break when my entire season has been next to non-stop. This one week was short lived as I started this week with a neck injury and my first ambulance call. The kid is perfectly fine, and the ambulance call was more of a “better safe then sorry” call, but it was a interesting experience nonetheless. Thankfully my first responder skills are still very much intact, and I was able to stay cool and collected through the whole process. While my kids are taking a beating, I’m lucky to be able to get lots and lots of experience! Once football is over I will begin with a new hockey team (high school varsity). Hockey will be a new sport to add to my list, as I have next to no experience in it (what kind of Winnipegger am I?!). I am excited for the challenge, and looking forward to the new experiences.

I’ve been spending at least one morning a week in the clinic, as well, to keep those skills somewhat fresh. Every week my confidence and independence grows, and I’m very lucky to have great supervisors and mentors throughout all my experiences. I’m so blessed with close classmates and peers to re-hash details of assessments with, and even just to laugh about the joys of working with teenage athletes. They really do do and say the most priceless things.

Midterms are basically over, finally. This week holds one major presentation but no exams. The exams themselves have been fairly spread out (about one per week), but mixed in is an endless stream of papers, reviews, and reports due. This year has been quite different as there is less straight up examination of knowledge, and more detailed application and review of topics. I’m loving the increase in independence, application of knowledge, and getting to chose topics to discuss that are interesting and relevant to my goals.. but it certainly is more time consuming then just studying the facts. KSA presidential work has kept me busy, and usually just when I think I have everything under control. So far I’ve found myself writing letters to deans, university officials, and students to bid for better student space and office space for execs (our current space is awful), this week brings our sister association WATSA’s annual massage-a-thon with which I am also involved, and in a couple weeks the University will be hosting Thrive week (a health awareness week) in which KSA will be heavily involved for organizing some on campus sporting events for all students, and handing out general health information (nutrition and physical activity). I have extremely helpful execs and co-presidents who make it much easier to get things accomplished! Now that midterms are quieting down, hopefully things start running a bit less hectically.

I’ve been doing my best to give myself at least one day for me a week. I get so busy during the rest of the week that I don’t even have time to be stressed about being busy. Lately some of my time has been eaten up as my basketball team’s season is kicking into gear, and this weekend I decided running in the Fire Paramedic 10k was a good idea (even though I haven’t ran in months.. feeling that one!)…Weekends for the most part have remained my own, and I am very grateful to have time to spend with my loved ones. Quite often I make it out to the country with J and go for a little ride on Felix or just enjoy being out of the city.

A couple weeks ago, just to really test my limits, I launched a little bit of personal research. This will be an on going project, and have had a good response already. Basically I am looking for riders (either competitive, or not) who have been dealing with chronic pain either from a previous injury or just in general. I’m interested in finding out what I can change about their pain after an 8week exercise therapy program focused on postural and biomechanical corrections in their daily life and in the saddle. Each case will be different and unique, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn and how I can improve some local rider’s function at the same time! I’ll be sure to post interesting progressions up here for interested readers!

 

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Meet your Athletic Therapist

That cool and calm silhouette bundled and layered on the side of the football field.

That critical eye efficiently assessing and educating in the clinic.

Those quick hands managing to tape quicker then you can say “zagopophyseal joint”.

The craftsperson that can stabilize any structure, and the magician who can mobilize each one as well.

The healer who can get you back to where you want to be.

The support system when you’re exhausted, and running out of perseverance.

The motivator when you need that extra push, and the responder when you push (or get pushed) too hard.

The mediator between parents, athletes, and coaches.

The comforting hand on your shoulder when there’s nothing else to say.

The brick wall when you need protection and solace.

The one heads turn to when an athlete falls down.

The under-recognized professional who asks for nothing more then a positive outcome for their clients.

The behind the scenes hero that hopes to never have to be in the spotlight.

Trainer. Teacher. Comforter. Pusher. Hydrator. Protector. Therapist.

On the field we stand by our athletes, doing everything we can to keep them performing their best at what they love.. but above all keeping them safe and healthy. We put our critical thinking and practical knowledge to use in every situation, creating tape jobs that have never been seen and remedying the most abstract injuries. The thank you we want is the well-being of our athletes and the trust of our coaches. We breathe easy when nobody stays down. Prevention is our jam, and we know how to train each athlete functionally so they go into play ready to perform their best.. every single time. Our pride can be found in each wrinkle-free, sturdy tape-job that runs by our special spot on the field.. and in every athlete who performs better because of our work. We don’t lose our cool, even when we are bombarded with a eager parent’s arguments, a coach’s hopeful questioning, or an athlete’s pleading. Come rain, shine, snow, hail, downpour, delays or all of the above…we’re there. Our job is our passion, for nobody could survive our daily routine without a special spot in the heart for what we do.

In the clinic we are the healer. After the lights go down on the field, and in between practices…we’re there to make you better. Professionals, recreationals, or occasional go out and get-er’s come to us for relief, improvement, and education. Fixing the pain is one thing, but fixing the problem is the athletic therapists’ bread and butter. Think we’ll stop once you’re “text-book” healed? Think again. Where you aim to be in your health and movement endeavours, we’ll get you there. Each body is unique, and our expert assessment and rehabilitation abilities are more then capable to figure out what works for yours. Our extensive background in exercise science, musculoskeletal care and variety of clinical skills offer more then just a quick fix. Health is dynamic, and so are we.

Ask us how we got here, and we’ll say we were inspired. Inspired by what we’ve seen and experienced ourselves as athletes, through injuries and downfalls. We’ve been there. We know. That comforting hand on your shoulder is one of understanding and compassion. We won’t let you face the challenges of healing and rehabbing alone. We won’t let you down when you need tough love through the extra mile. Each one of us has a story that led us to where we are now. Each one of us comes with a unique personality, and our own strengths and weaknesses. But every one of us has the same qualities of leadership, compassion, confidence, and unfailing drive to do the best we can to help you be the best you can be. Doing no harm is our responsibility. Getting our clients to their absolute best is our goal. Seeing our clients heal, improve, and perform is our thrill.

If you’ve been thinking of getting an ache or a pain remedied, think of an AT. If you’ve been wondering how you can prevent aches and pains and maintain your health… think of an AT. We’re your prevention and care specialist. All sports, all hobbies, all professions… athletic therapy is for everyone. We’re here for you, no matter what.

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Immersion

If last weeks theme was feeling overwhelmed, this weeks theme is “I think I got this?”

Note the slight lack of certainty.

There is something about being surrounded by the student AT family who are all equally stressed about pretty much all the same things constantly that has brought back my cool, calmness.

So much about what we do as athletic therapy students (and graduates) is about jumping right in and just taking it as it comes. Really. You can’t fight against the current here. When you find yourself on field with no certified to answer your questions in person, and you have one athlete with a dislocated shoulder calmly (surprisingly) laying on the ground saying he can’t move his arm, two others waiting less patiently to be taped, 25 other players grouped around the first kid gawking, a currently injured athlete standing on the field yelling “you’re a wimp, you’re not actually hurt!” at players who come off the field injured (usually significantly) in between flirting with the water girls, coaches yelling things like “you are not brothers today.. you’re enemies! Let’s see what you can do!”, and kids getting absolutely smoked, getting up, coming off the field, and matter-of-factly stating “what happened? I can’t remember..?”…. all within an hour… you have to acknowledge this as a normal wednesday, go with the flow, and deal with it. Don’t worry about the numb hands, you can tape just fine with them. Palpating¬†an acute injury doubles as icing when it’s 10deg and windy on a Manitoba fall evening. Jump in there… awkward injured teenagers are waiting.

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So far this week has been all about immersing myself back into a routine. I’ve found myself in many positions (partly volunteered) of leadership already, between being head therapist with football, c0-president of KSA, and just generally being a final year student. People ask more of you, people expect more of you, and you expect more of you. The first week of this new realisation terrified¬†me, but so far the second week has reminded me that I’m ready to tackle all this (and hopefully fare better then my football players).

As classes got rolling this week, I thanked summer me for pushing myself to almost crazy squeezing all the extra reading, clinic time, and field work that I did manage to. It’s already made 4 super intimidating courses seem a little less mental. The switch back to super-human scheduler has begun. I’ve noticed that (so far) I don’t find myself feeling like prep reading for class is as dreaded. I actually just do it without thinking. And I usually actually find it quite interesting. Which in turn also helps to make these courses seem more manageable. Studying is so much easier when it doesn’t feel like work! Now I just have to figure out a way to get my brain to shut off for bed time. It wants to just keep on rolling 24hrs a day! Luckily, I never really find myself low on energy (again, so far). I still manage to find time to have car naps, a habit a started this summer too. And, as my boss at the gym pointed out one day after coming in stressed as I could be (during week 1)… “you still have time to work out, so things must not be too bad). I’m making a conscious effort this year to take time each day for me, even if that’s just a car nap. This is in an attempt to keep myself from the colossal melt down that usually happens around January.

This past weekend we welcomed home the newest addition to the hobby farm… Lucy (already sometimes “Lucifer”)! She will the the new project, now the Felix is almost all grown up. Of course he isn’t going anywhere fast, and Lucy has a few years yet before we’re riding her as she’s only just 4mos old now. What we’ve learned so far is that she loves people, but not in the mornings.

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The rest of this week brings another football game (on my birthday of course), plans to spend time with friends and family over the weekend bringing in the 22nd year, and hopefully a continued progression of immersing myself into a comfortable stress/study/function level for this semester.

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Beginning the End

After my last first day in the undergrad… it’s safe to say my brain is mush already. ¬†

To end off my summer, I really made a point of relaxing and just doing the things I wanted to. This gave me a total of 5 days of summer. The last few days of my summer job were spent doing next to nothing due to sketchy weather. Then J and I took off for a few days out to the country, and then to my cousin’s hobby ranch (if you can call thousands of acres of farm and pasture land a hobby farm) up in Horod, MB¬†with Mom and Gord, and the rest of the Rance crew¬†for some off the grid relaxation and family time. The scenery in the area of the province is like a slightly less condensed and tropical north NZ.. so pretty perfect. Over this time my immune system also relaxed and I got a cold, of course. The only way to bring in the school year!¬†
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The first two days of school have already completely exhausted my mental capacity. Between KSA promotions and organisation, a tough roster of classes, football 24/7, and catching up with familiar faces… it’s been a non-stop week so far. The last two days I’ve had to take an hour or so to just turn off my phone and stop the bombardment of texts, emails, and to-do lists. This, I think, is going to be a regular strategy.. at least until my head clicks back into super student mode (hopefully soon.).¬†

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Some of the Kin/Watsa execs a O-week!

Usually I’m much more enthusiastic about the first couple weeks of school. Whether it’s the fact that I’m very ready for this to be the last go-around, or like all the other final year AT students am feeling the burden of field and clinic hours crushing my soul.. there isn’t as much crisp new school supplies excitement floating around right now. I have become the jaded AT student, who begrudgingly dedicates majority of any free time to practical hours and somehow manages to study and work paying jobs in between commitments. It’s a interesting place to be, and I’m glad I have a few other students in the same situation as me to battle through this semester with. One thing I did miss was ranting about AT student sorrows and stresses to fellow AT students.¬†

I’m also looking forward to getting back into the routine. Once I settle back into the grind, I usually find a decent balance in my schedule. Or at least accept it. Acceptance is the key to not mentally imploding.¬†

If I could tell first year me what I would be handling in my 4th year.. First year me might have permanently stayed in NZ. However.. looking back at all my hard work and stress, the pattern would suggest that I can handle this one last crazy semester.. and once I get through it, I just have another semester left until I’m degreed. The CATA certification stress doesn’t start until after that. So we’re not even going to start talking about that for a few months yet.¬†

Stay tuned for more brain fried rants as the semester continues! 

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Taking in Summer

You would think that selling my horse and taking a hiatus from competition would free up hours of free time in my life.. and if you did think that, I’d have to ask you.. do you know me at all?

After making the decision of selling Will, and finding the suitable buyer…I spent about a week hibernating. Or at least that’s what it felt like. I kept up my regular work routine, but spent the rest of the time napping, eating comfort food or being grumpy. I refer to this week as my ’emotional hangover’. I can’t lie, it was and still is quite an adjustment not going out to the barn every afternoon in between shifts, and not spending my weekends planned around training or show schedules. ¬†It has, however, been quite a happy adjustment as the financial and time commitments that came with riding full-time have diminished significantly.

After the week of feeling hungover, I spent the weekend with my guy going from one social gathering to the next. Supper at my parents to the west on Friday, a birthday party at J’s friends to the east Saturday, a retirement party in the city on Sunday. Getting out and about, being surrounded by good people for three days straight really helped snap me out of whatever I was doing the week prior.

Following that was another busy week full of work and beginning to prepare for the school year to begin once again. I’ve been able to fill the time once spent at the barn with getting my focus back onto getting myself into the gym to work out, eating right for me, and getting more involved in a couple of clinics. Claude at MORFit has been utilizing me whenever he has clients and I’m on shift.. which is great. It still amazes me that one year ago I was terrified of working with a client, and now he’s given me a client to work with from day one onwards.. which just seems like everyday stuff now to me. I assessed this client on his first appointment, and have worked with him twice weekly for the last month or so. It’s been pretty neat to see him progress in his rehab and be elated with his results; results that he’s achieved with me working on him mostly independently!

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Last week I began work in another clinic, one which I’m very excited to be working in. I’ll be there twice a week as well until classes begin, as well as continuing the work at MORFit with Claude, and then I’ll have to put clinic time on hold to accommodate football season. I was also¬†kept busy with KSA business as well, as we prepare for our big member push during the first couple weeks of school. It will be interesting to see if the four of us can rebuild this student association, and get it back on track to being the huge network of students it once was.

I’ve been really trying to take as many chances as I get over the last while, and in the next couple weeks, to just do whatever I think might be fun with what remains of summer. It’s been close to 10 years that I’ve always had something horse related to do on weekends, so as much as I’m already missing it- it has been very nice to just do other things on weekends off. This weekend I did end up doing something horsey by setting up¬†J with a polo lesson and going as a spectator. My good friend and teammate Megg joined to watch, and we had a great day. J seems to be a natural to the riding world. Only having ridden a few times in his life, this lesson was his first official ride. He made it look easy and had a tonne of fun. I may be getting him addicted to counter my withdrawal..

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As much as I can hobbling around on my persistently bruised foot, I’ve been getting myself back into a work-out routine and cleaning up my diet. With classes fast approaching, and my schedule turning into a crazy monster.. I’m going to need a clear head and lots of energy. Right now is the perfect time to start taking advantage of all my friends and family with fresh food growing in their yards and get myself back into my healthy routine. With a little extra time (relative) I’ve taken the chance to start cooking more. A couple meals with J this week consisted of garden potatoes, onions, paired with bacon and eggs (both local), french toast (gluten free and locally baked) with fresh raspberries and blueberries. I made some fantastic fresh corn with sauteed zucchini, onions, carrots, and beet greens the other night. And tonight at work I made myself a arugula salad with tomato, sweet red pepper, fresh basil, nuts, and carrots topped with chicken and poppyseed dressing.

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Football practices began today.. which¬†will combine with work (2 jobs still), running my own class, and CMU basketball teams. I’m the head therapist with Murdock Football this year, as well as the only AT working with CMU basketball (both men’s and women’s).¬†It’s gonna be a bit of a crazy year. I’m registered in 4 classes and one lab, and just heard that I got chosen to be the lab demo for Taping and Splinting this fall as well. Those plus running KSA, and potentially also working with the Older Adults class again.. I’ll be flying. I am really looking forward to it all though. I’ve found my niche within AT, and every experience I get drives me further towards the career I want to have. This being my last year of my bachelor, I want to make the most of it. And how do I make the most of things? I do every possible thing I can. Duh.

My week days are quickly filling up, but the next two weekends I’ve saved to spend time with family and friends, relaxing and enjoying summer… and raiding people’s gardens!

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