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MUSC Health Blog

Date: Aug 2014

Guest post by:
Lindsey Clarke, MS, ATC, CMT
Athletic Trainer; Massage Therapist Charleston Battery
MUSC Sports Medicine

newsAPUSH, pre-calc, physics, AP Lit…most high school student’s course loads are extremely demanding and require hours upon hours of homework on a weekly basis. Turn a high school student into a student athlete and that already heavy academic load will require a secret decoder ring to decipher and maintain a balance between both schedules and demands…what time the game is Thursday, when that AP Bio exam is, where this weekend’s tournament is, oh, and what day are the SATs again? The demands placed on children to be well-rounded, philanthropic, smart, and athletic are ever-increasing. A huge study was recently released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) called the “America’s High School Graduates“ (PDF). Within the report, the high school transcript study analyzes transcripts from public and private high school graduates so that they can inform the public on things like our nation’s average GPA. The results of this study? It seems that high school students are taking more rigorous course loads and earning higher grade point averages. Overall GPAs increased from 2.68 in 1990 to 3.00 in 2009 with increasing course loads. Some other main points from the study include:

• In 2009, graduates earned over three credits more than their 1990 counterparts, or about 420 additional hours of instruction during their high school careers.
• A greater percentage of 2009 graduates complete more challenging curriculum levels than 1990 or 2005 graduates.

As an athletic trainer at Academic Magnet, one of the top academically acclaimed high schools in the nation, I see this fine line of kids balancing a full academic load with athletic responsibilities tip toed across on a daily basis. I often see my athletes doing their homework on the bus to away games, in study hall during shared gym time, or in the stands and/or sidelines before they play. In order to keep these two important aspects of a child’s life organized, as well as being successful, there are a number of things your student athlete can do to make both activities enjoyable and not a constant struggle.

Realize the commonalities of the two

Being successful in anything requires discipline. The same focus and determination you put towards your conditioning, technique, and workouts at practice can be applied to your studies, test preparation and effort towards projects and writing papers. Sports can provide a welcome relief to a long reading assignment. While conversely, academics can help teach you logic and problem solving which you can put to good use on the field.

Don’t over-commit yourself

While being a well-rounded student is important, enjoying your high school and not spreading yourself too thin is equally so. Practices and competitions are typically after school and in the evenings…times when non-athletes can go home and focus on homework, other extra-curricular activities, or hanging out with friends. Leaving some breathing room in your (already tight) schedule for some personal time will ensure that you don’t burn out. If you aren’t working at your full potential, both your schoolwork and your athletic abilities will suffer.

Time Management

Perhaps the most important key to balancing both academics and sports is learning to manage your time. You must make the most of every minute, or you will be miserable; there is no room for procrastination in this balancing act. When you’ve got both a demanding course load and a heavy practice schedule, you have very little time to waste. You’ve got to learn to make the most of the time that you have. Sit down on a weekly basis, and plan out your week ahead. Plan and schedule each thing that you can. Schedule set times for studying and stick to it. Distribute your time in the most efficient way possible in order to accomplish your goals. Take a look at your daily schedule and determine the ways to optimize your available time with more studying, more sleep, and time spent decompressing with family and friends. I asked one of my seniors, a multi-sport athlete (football and lacrosse), secretary of Spanish National Honor Society, President of Beach Volleyball club and an executive member of numerous clubs, how he manages all those commitments in addition to taking 5 AP classes all the while maintaining a 4.4GPA. His response was quite simple. “It’s the routine. If I don’t play a sport, I kind of just float around, but if you get a routine going of practice, get home, eat, shower, homework; it’s just way easier. And definitely don’t procrastinate because you come home tired. Also, use your time wisely at school”. So there you have it…out of the mouth of someone who walks that tight rope everyday.

Staying Motivated

Keeping your eye on the prize will help keep things in perspective. It’s easy to wonder why in the world you decided to take on both sports and academics, when you feel everything is coming down on you while you see your friends out having a good time. Remind yourself that this is what you wanted and that both things are equally important. Keep a positive attitude and remember that all of your hard work will pay off. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy your school experience as well as your sport. Don’t get so caught up in the demand of it all that you forget to enjoy yourself!

Guest post by:
Shane K. Woolf, MD
Associate Professor of Orthopaedics and Chief of Sports Medicine

As the 2014 NFL preseason has moved through its third week and college football games are about to get underway, early season injuries are a common concern for coaches and players. During preseason practices, scrimmages and games, players are acclimating to new systems, new plays, and to higher intensity scenarios compared to off-season training workouts in the gym and off the field. This places players at risk for both minor as well as season-ending injuries and is one reason why coaching staffs limit the number of plays and series that marquee players are on the field during somewhat irrelevant preseason scrimmages.

Most coaches look at preseason as a an opportunity to give their veterans players just enough playing time to shake off the dust from the off-season and to try new plays and personnel combinations or to decide on who crown as the starting quarterback.
For some prospects, aggressive preseason play might mean a chance to earn a roster position putting them at greater risk for an injury. With four months of regular season play, there is ample opportunity for injury, so it is imperative to effectively condition and train players while minimizing injury risk, especially early in the year.

Fortunately, many injuries warrant just a short period of time off the field, but not necessarily end a player’s season. On the NFL’s injury report this past week, for instance, the majority of listed medical issues were conditions such as hamstring/groin strains, ankle sprains, and bruised limbs or ribs. These injuries, while limiting and nagging to players, usually recover fairly quickly with rest and rehabilitation. More importantly, they do not typically require surgery and do not often end a player’s season. It is imperative though that players with bruised shoulders, groin strains, ankle sprains and other minor injuries are assessed daily by their team’s medical staff and that return to play is guided by pain and functional assessments. Ideally, the individual player’s health and well-being are paramount and availability for the lineup is secondary to sufficient healing.

Relatively minor injuries, like Cam Newton’s hairline rib fracture sustained last weekend, will heal quickly without intervention and can be sufficiently protected with special pads when he is ready to return under center. Similarly, Clemson fans may be holding their collective breaths as the highly touted Buffalo Bills rookie, Sammy Watkins, sits out preseason games and practices with bruised ribs. Fortunately, these injuries, while painful and frustrating for the players, usually recover within a few weeks and players get back onto the field nearly full strength by then.

Unfortunately, other injuries can immediately jeopardize a season or even a career. Just this weekend, Sam Bradford, quarterback of the St. Louis Rams, suffered his second season-ending ACL injury in as many seasons when the previously repaired knee was struck by a Cleveland defensive player on the opening drive of a preseason game. In an instant, all of the reconstructive work, dedicated rehabilitation and patience are lost. Another surgery, most likely, and another year of recovery with hopes of one day returning to pro football. As one might expect, a repeat injury to the joint makes for a challenging road back to the same level of play, regardless how well the knee is reconstructed.

In recent years, contact drills in practices have been reduced and innovations made in training routines to optimize players’ ability to learn plays and hone decision skills. Many have argued against a long preseason because of the inherent risk of injury with each successive exposure to live action. Of course, injury risk during the regular season is a given. It goes with the territory. No sport is free of potential injury. However, the toll that injury can take on an athlete’s body and future consequences are things that each individual must consider, and the team’s medical staff is obligated to protect the athlete’s health interests. Perhaps the argument to reduce preseason-playing time in order to minimize injury risk has merit after all.

MUSC Health's Dr. DeCastro and Bobby Weisenberger, Head Athletic Trainer Charleston Battery, recently spoke to Charleston's WCBD, Channel 2 about treating athletes affected by the heat. Learn how heat stroke and heart attacks differ in symptoms and treatment.

WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Guest Post by:
Bobby Weisenberger, ATC, PES
Head Athletic Trainer Charleston Battery
MUSC Sports Medicine

Practice Days

7:30am: Arrive at stadium about a half an hour before the players show up. Sidelines are prepped for the day’s practice. This consists of filling ice coolers and water bottles.

8:00am: First round of players show up at injury clinic for treatment and rehabilitation. This ranges from electric stimulation, ultrasound, and or hot/cold treatments.

8:30am: All non-injured players arrive for taping, stretching and mandatory weigh-ins.

9:00am: Warm-ups begin. I speak with the coaching staff about injured players’ status. Coach is advised who’s in or out of training. Training sessions typically last 1 ½ hours and during that time, I will be doing on-field rehabilitation with players who are close to returning to full play while keeping a close eye on the field, looking for and taking care of any new injuries that occur. In addition, I refill water bottles. HYDRATION, HYDRATION, HYDRATION. In the summertime heat and humidity where heat indexes easily reach 115, this cannot be stressed enough.

10:30am: As training wraps up I return to the training room where another round of treatments is performed on injured players. Recovery exercises and whirlpool treatments are also coordinated.

11:30am: When all of the players weigh out and leave for the day I will work on injury reports, and fill out treatment notes on injured players. I prepare and send out a daily injury report to our team physicians, team physical therapist, and coaching staff so that everyone is made aware of player’s statuses on a daily basis.

12:30pm: Leave for the day! Though, the job never ends. Players have my mobile number and are encouraged to call me for any medical concerns they may have. I coordinate their medical appointments and ancillary services throughout the MUSC network.

Game Days

4:30pm: Arrive at Blackbaud Stadium, to set up the home and visiting locker rooms as well as both sides of the field with injury ice and water.

5:30pm: Injured players arrive. I work with them and our team physical therapist doing treatments and rehabilitations.

6:00pm: Players who are on the roster for the night’s game will arrive at and I will tape and assist with any types of warm-up exercises/treatments they may need.

7:30pm Kickoff! During the game I will keep a close eye on the game and take care of any injuries that may occur. After the game, I will work with our team physician to access and provide treatment for any injuries that have occurred during the game.

10:30pm: Goodnight!

This week, the country is mourning the loss of Robin Williams, a truly inspirational actor and comedian who in so many ways brought laughter and self-reflection into our lives. While most people will remember his extraordinary wit, I’ve always been impressed by the thoughtful, caring, and sobering side of his creative works.

Through his intelligent humor and improvisation, Mr. Williams was able to stimulate serious discussions about controversial social issues. Part of his creative genius was his ability to make each of us confronts our own personal biases and prejudices in a non-threatening manner.

For me, Mr. Williams often elicited “Why am I laughing” questions. His humor did not denigrate other people in a hurtful manner, as can sometimes be the case in comedy; but rather his work often challenged us to scrutinize our own beliefs, life struggles, and insecurities. Perhaps more effective than many psychotherapeutic modalities, Mr. Williams was able through his characterizations to promote self-exploration and encourage us to consider other possibilities without our even knowing that this was taking place. And, he accomplished this for so many of us for only the price of a movie ticket or a cable subscription, which is considerably less expensive than psychotherapy.

Mr. Williams’ death elicits sadness and anger. I get the sadness! But why does his death from depression elicit anger? Maybe because:

  • Our society fails to recognize that depression is a serious, disabling, potentially life- threatening medical illness;
  • There is a public perception that depression is a personal weakness, rather than the 8th leading medical cause of death in the United States;
  • Only a minority of people suffering from major depression, including those with a past history of suicide attempts, are able to obtain and/or receive evidence-informed treatments;
  • Insurance providers fail to abide by the true intent of the federally mandated Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which, if appropriately enforced, would “really” provide improved access to mental health care;
  • Highly creative people have an increased prevalence of mood disorders (including, and perhaps, especially, Bipolar Disorder), and we as a society fail to provide appropriate mental health care;
  • There remains, even among health care providers, a stigmatization about mental illness as well as mental health providers themselves, which leads to a failure in seeking and providing satisfactory mental health care; and
  • There has been a decrease in research funding to study and to develop more effective treatments of medical mental illnesses.

In Robin Williams, we have lost a creative genius who was killed by a medical disorder, depression. If he had remained with us, he perhaps one day would again (Good Will Hunting) have been able to employ his creativity, humor, and intelligent wit to uncover and reduce our society’s widespread harmful and largely oblivious prejudice against those suffering from major depression, addictions, and other mental illnesses.

Thomas W. Uhde, M.D.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences
Medical University of South Carolina

 

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