How did you first get involved with Athletic Therapy?
During my first semester at the University of Guelph I was walking around campus and got lost. I ended up at the AT clinic at the football stadium and met Gunner. After talking for a while he ended up signing me up for an introductory AT class taught by Judy. I did not know what athletic therapy was, but thought I would at least check out the course. I felt like I did poorly in the course until I was placed as a volunteer AT student with the football team. Then I realized how terrible I actually was. This time in school, when I made a mistake it was not only on paper but with an actual live person. I was a poor student for about a year and somehow Gunner and Judy supported me and continued to mentor me. After about a year things started to click, I understood more of what I was doing and from the AT guidance from Gunner but also really more meaningful professional and mindfulness mentoring. I started to really enjoy Athletic Therapy and it is what started me on my career. I don’t know what made them continue to support me during that first year, but I am forever grateful that they did because I would not be where I am today without them.
What do you love most about your job?
There are two things I enjoy most in my job. One is never ending search for answers in research. I love trying to figure things out in the constantly evolving domains of athletic therapy. I try to have a systematic view of the relationship among variables for the sole purpose of explaining and predicting phenomenon. Things that I have witnessed change over, like: we used to immobilize MCL sprains, fractures used to be a contraindication for ultrasound, and tendonitis was an inflammatory condition. Now we do not immobilize MCL sprains, low intensity ultrasound is used to treat fractures, and tendonitis does not exist.
While that is the aspect of my job I love the most, I also get a lot of joy from working with my grad students helping them achieve their goals.
What are the most common injuries you see?
Last year we were studying activity and overall movement in low back pain patients. We were measuring how active they were based on their own self reporting versus how active they really were over the first few weeks of receiving their treatment. With the help of one of my graduate students I was able to treat people in the clinic and recruit them to participate in the study at the same time, which was great.
What are the most common misconceptions about AT?
There are still a lot of people who don’t know what athletic therapy is. So it is hard for them to have misconceptions about what they don’t know. Most AT’s agree that recognition is one of our top priorities for the CATA but what some of them might not realize is that the battle for recognition is going to be a long one. The NATA (National Athletic Trainers Association in the US) has over 15 times the members we do and has licensure in almost all states and as of last year the president of the NATA said one of their top priories is recognition as well. So we are going to be fighting this for a while.
What is your advice for future AT’s?
Cover letters and CV’s! Future AT’s should get people, peers or mentors to help them prepare their professional documents. The other piece of advice is never make decisions based on your feelings on the inside while comparing yourself to other people’s outsides. Too many times, I talk to students or young people in general and they are making decisions based on the actions or talking of other people. No one is going to worry about your life or want to take care of you more than you. It does not matter that Billy did not like that particular internship, maybe it was wrong for him and right for you? Decide what you want to do for you and no one else.