September 15, 2022

Importance of keeping your head in the game

This month, we’re thrilled to bring an article to you by Dr. Amanda Black, Certified Athletic Therapist since 2010 and assistant research professor at the University of Calgary. She specializes in research related sport injury prevention with a focus on concussions, and with Concussion Awareness Month kicking off at the end of this month, it was a perfect time to hear from her and about her experience as a CAT(C). Her decision to focus on research related to sports injury came from her own lived experience both as an athlete and athletic therapist.

I spent many years as an athlete, participating in all different sports like soccer, hockey, and wrestling. My main sport was soccer, and while playing soccer I had an experience that changed my life forever. During a game, I sustained an injury to my ankle. As this injury was right before a showcase and I did not have an athletic therapist, I continued to play despite my body telling me to slow down. This injury changed my life as it ended my athletic career. Although it was a devastating moment for me, it inspired my career to become a CAT(C).

After my injury I wanted to learn more about athletic therapy, thinking that if I had been educated as an athlete on the importance of injury management by a CAT(C), then my career would not have ended so soon. CAT(C)s have a very important role in the lives of their athletes. They are able to be with them throughout everything from before injury, to recovery and post-recovery. I loved working as an athletic therapist and being able to make a huge difference in the lives of athletes by helping them return to sport safely so they can continue to do what they love.

My shift to research was partly because of a specific situation I faced as a young athletic therapist while still in training. I was working on the sidelines with a team when the goalie was involved in a pile up at the net. After everyone cleared I had noticed he was holding his head, a classic sign of a concussion. I pulled him off the field to do an assessment, but he had said he was fine and he was allowed to go back on the field. During the next play, the goalie let the ball fly right past him! This athlete’s symptoms were immediate signs of a concussion and he was pulled off the field immediately. I noticed the changes in his behavior and that sparked my interest to learn more about concussions.

Knowledge about concussions is extremely useful for a CAT(C), especially as concussion research is always changing and being updated. It is critical to stay up to date on the latest concussion research to help best support patients and athletes.

After all, we are the ones who are always watching from the sidelines and can see the signs of a concussion firsthand. CAT(C)s should not be afraid to make the call if they think their athlete has a concussion. While it is important to remember the whole athlete and that they could be experiencing something other than a concussion, CAT(C)s should never be afraid to make the tough calls.

When a CAT(C) steps up to make the call, they are able to support the athlete in the recovery process without causing further injury. With a concussion patient, we can teach them how to get back to their regular activity level with exercise while in recovery. CAT(C)s are able to make a huge impact on athletes’ lives and professional careers. If you are a C(ATC) — be true to your instincts and training in order to best support your athletes.

If you are interested in learning more about athletic therapy and concussion research, register for our webinar on October 5th at 8pm EST. And make sure to stay up to date with CATA by following us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn!