Segment 102.1: Athletico’s Overhead Athlete Program

Matt Gauthier, PT, DPT, SCS from Athletico Physical Therapy talks with Steve and Dr. Cole about the unique characteristics of the Overhead Athlete, types of overhead throwing injuries: causes, prevention and treatment.

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There’s more to throwing than just the motion of your arm.  There’s actually a whole science dedicated to it-and Athletico offers a comprehensive approach. Our team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, certified athletic trainers, and physical therapy assistants combine their expertise in throwing analysis with slow-motion video analysis to enhance performance and help prevent injuries.

Whether you are returning from an injury or simply working to refine mechanics, Athletico has skilled professionals to assist you in optimizing your form and preparing your body for the field of competition, bringing you one step closer to making your goals a reality.

Matt Gauthier specializes in the treatment of high-level athletes, and is the most passionate about treating shoulder and knee injuries. He is the head of Athletico’s Overhead Athlete Program,  and is a member of the USOC physical therapy volunteer program. As a sports specialist, he has experience treating athletic injuries at the youth, high school, college, professional, and Olympic levels.

JAMMED FINGER- SEE A DOCTOR OR NOT?

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D., President, Sideline Sports Doc, Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University

Key Points:

  • A jammed finger occurs with direct impact to the tip of a finger and is generally a mild sprain that resolves in a few days
  • Some finger injuries can be more serious and require urgent evaluation. Examples would include complete tendon tears, joint dislocation, or broken bone.
  • Use The SAFE Method™ (Story, Appearance, Feel, Effort) to rapidly evaluate an injured finger

Catching or getting hit by a ball on the tip of a finger- a football, volleyball, or basketball- is generalyouthbasketball a common way kids and young adults can injure a finger. Fortunately, most finger injuries are reasonably mild and will allow for a quick return to sport. A “jammed finger” is a sprain of the soft tissue structures surrounding a joint. But sometimes a tendon (a structure that links muscle to bone, and cause fingers to move) can be torn, or a joint can be dislocated, or one of the bones broken.

There are some simple steps you can take to rapidly evaluate an injury and make a reasonable determination about whether it’s safe to continue play, or perhaps whether you should seek urgent physician evaluation. At Sideline Sports Doc, we use a simple evaluation for sports injuries that we call The SAFE Method™. The SAFE Method™ is an acronym for Story, Appearance, Feel, and Effort. You use these four points to evaluate pretty much any sports injury. Here’s how you use it for a jammed finger.

Story

Basically this means “how did it get hurt”. Most of the time there will be direct contact to the tip of the finger, that’s pretty obvious. But here you want to be on the lookout for things such as very severe pain, whether you may have heard a pop, or whether you may have felt something crack. Those are all “red flags” indicating that you might have a significant injury. If you have any of those red flags I’d recommend evaluation in an urgent care facility. And if you don’t have any red flags, move on to…

Appearance

What does it look like? In most typical jammed fingers your finger should look pretty normal in the first several minutes after the injury, this is common with a simple jammed finger. (It may get swollen an hour or two later…) But what if it is rapidly becoming swollen, or if it’s bent at an unusual angle, or if the joint is obviously out of position? If any of those things are what you’re seeing then go to an emergency room for proper treatment. Does it look normal? That’s good, so move on next to Feel.

Feel

In “feel” you want to press lightly on the injured joint. Generally this will produce mild soreness with a common jammed finger. But if your light touch feels really painful that’s a red flag indicating the need for urgent evaluation. Significant pain with light touch is often present with broken bones. Are you still doing ok? Then move on to the last evaluation step, Effort.

Effort

In this last step you want to make an effort at moving the injured area on your own. For hand injuries this is done by making a fist and opening the fingers out straight. If you’re able to do this fairly easily, that’s good and generally goes along with a jammed finger. But what if you can’t make a fist, can’t open the fingers, or if the joint just won’t move? That could mean a torn tendon, or possibly another significant injury. Get yourself to an urgent care facility.

So if you pass each of the four steps without any red flags or areas of concern youSideLineSportsDoc probably have a sprain or a jammed finger. Get home and apply RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and monitor your progress each day. But if things don’t start turning back to normal in the next few days, or if you have concerns that it isn’t healing as you’d expect then it’s always safe to seek proper physician evaluation.

KNEE INJURIES: MORE COMMON IN WOMEN?

knee pain women

Knee injuries are no laughing matter; 55% of all sports related injuries are knee injuries. But who is at greatest risk for knee injuries when it comes to sports? It turns out that women are 4-6 times more likely to suffer a sports related injury than their male counterparts in the same sport. Out of all sports related injuries, the most common injuries among female athletes are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

The reasons for women having an increased risk of knee injury has nothing to do with strength or ability; it comes down to genetics and anatomical factors, form, and training. Simply put, women are built differently than men and some of those differences put added pressure on their knee joints. Thankfully, the factors contributing to the increase in injuries have been widely researched and while genetics can’t be changed, form corrections and training programs have been proven to prevent knee injuries in women’s sports.

Within the sports community, female athletes who play basketball and soccer are somewhere between 2-10 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury compared with male athletes, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. The reason for the high rate of ACL injuries within these particular sports can be attributed to that most ACL injuries—whether in male or female athletes— are caused by non contact mechanisms. These include common movements like landing from a jump or making a lateral pivot while running. But why are women so susceptible to ACL injuries? Let’s take a look at the factors and what can be done to reduce the risk.

Genetic and Anatomical Factors:

ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. It connects the front of the tibia (shinbone) with the back of the femur (thighbone). It helps provide stability to the knee joint.

The strength and use of the surrounding muscle groups, such as quadriceps and hamstrings, have a serious impact on the ACL. When running and jumping, women tend to lead with their quads, whereas male athletes seem to have a better balance between the quads and the hamstring muscles. A balance between quads and hamstrings means the impact is more evenly distributed, thus reducing the pressure on the knee.

Another reason for increased knee pressure is that women have a wider pelvis which creates a larger Q-angle at the knee. This often results in a more “knock-kneed” posture in women, leaving the ACL more vulnerable for injury.

Q_Angle_knee

Additional anatomical factors in ACL tears such as the diameter of the ACL are still being researched.

Some doctors think women are more prone an ACL injury because of the differences in the amount of circulating hormones such as estrogen. Certain hormones give ligaments strength and flexibility. Fluctuations in hormone levels may have some impact on the function of the nerves and muscles and may lead to an increased risk of injury.

Form:

When researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center sought to explain why this increased risk of ACL injuries in women was occurring, they uncovered that poor form when landing a jump contributed to the risk.

“Women tend to land with the knees straighter and feet rotated inwards, compared to men who tend to land with more of a bend in the knee and the feet rotated slightly outward,” says Dr. Patrick McCulloch, an orthopedic surgeon with the Methodist Center for Sports Medicine in Houston who was involved in the research. “This puts the knee in a better position to absorb shock.”

After this discovery, the same researchers spent six weeks correcting these form issues resulted in a reduction in the likelihood of ACL injury by up to 50%.

Prevention Through Training:

As doctors and orthopedic surgeons were seeing an increase in ACL injuries in women, training and conditioning programs were designed to correct problems with form, strengthen knees and surrounding muscles and reduce the risk of injury. FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments, has designed a warm up program specifically designed to reduce the rate of ACL injuries in soccer players (male and female).

Teams that perform FIFA 11+  program at least twice a week, for 20 minutes at time, experience 30-50% fewer injured players, according to FIFA.

In addition, the Sports Physical Therapy department at Massachusetts General Hospital have put together a detailed sports conditioning program to help increase knee strength and reduce knee injuries specifically in female athletes through active warm-up, stretching, strengthening exercises, plyometric drills, and agility drills.

While ACL injuries for female athletes were reaching epidemic proportions, through understanding the problems causing the increase and creating prevention programs based on research, the rate of these injuries is on the decline.

By BetterBraces.com