But I’ve never… never mind. The story of a AT student.

“Kathlyn is going to do your hip-flexor work today, and then she’ll stretch you”

What I hear as I walk in the door to work on Tuesday.

“Are you good with that?” directed at me, with a smirk.

“Yeah uh, sure– but.. I’ve never done a hip massage before…” –Me, sounding super intelligent.

“Oh.. I know.” Walks away chuckling and leaves me in a room with a client.

And that is basically how SO many of my hours as an AT student are spent lately. Just yesterday at football a similar thing happened. Except with less details given and a little bit higher intensity.

In pre-game, pretty much as soon as we started taping we were over run by players wanting the perfect taping for their first play-off game- which meant Nikki was tied up with the QB and her form of dealing with the “swarm” is to shoot people off my direction. I normally cover ankles and thumbs, with the occasional wrist thrown in there. However today there was an elbow hyperextension that needed taping (a tape job I haven’t done since the very preliminary version they taught us a year ago in P&C- funny enough something they were reviewing in the part of class I left early from to make football), and NIkki asked if I knew how to do it. I kinda mumbled a sorta, I guess- and then promptly got thrown a roll of tape and was told to “go!”. The fun part about taping is that you can make a lot of stuff up on the fly, as long as it prevents what it’s supposed to prevent. What I came up with even got a compliment from Nikki when she saw it run by her on field later on.

Later on, a player had come off the field complaining of pain to the quad and iliotibial band just above the knee, and Nikki was running him through a quick assessment while I observed. His strength was good, and his movement was also fine- so we came the conclusion he just had a contusion (bruise) to the muscles in the area. She was just about to start compression wrapping and return to play functional testing when we hear “TRAINER, TRAINER!!!” from the field and see one our players rolling on the ground. All I got that time was Nikki throwing the elastic tape at me and yelling “compression!” as she ran onto the field. So, with an athlete anxious to get going standing infront of me I did my first on field quad contusion compression wrap (really not a big deal..) and ran my first athlete through functional return to play testing (bigger deal) and made the decision he was good to go back into play (and confirmed it of course). 20131025-144454.jpg The boys ended up winning their quarter final game, and so we head off to semis next week! At least one more week of shivering for us!

20131025-144519.jpg

Needless to say we didn’t have too many players lingering on the table last night… Little bit chilly..

Luckily, for me, I love learning this way. For one, it really prevents procrastination. When someone is throwing you into a situation, you can’t really put it off. Your brain is forced to recall information and put it to use, ASAP. Also, so far anyway, it has a way of giving  a little boost of confidence- which is often needed. A lot of what we cover in class is often hard to grasp when all you have to practice on is your pretty healthy and functional lab partners. The amount of times I’ve walked into work and had the AT there say “have you ever done this before” or “when’s the last time you did this?” and my response is “um.. never..” (highly educated response, I know) is off the charts- but equal with the amount of times he throws me in there anyway. Of course giving a super quick demo that looks effortless and easy- only to be the opposite for my rookie hands. It only took a few weeks of doing some deep-tissue work on clients to get a feel for what was actually happening underneath my touch. It took me months to get my angles right in some tape jobs. But that’s what this kind of learning does to a person like me- it fuels that dedication to get it right- and I took it as a great compliment when Nikki referred to me as a perfectionist when helping me prep for my Taping practical.

Those “getting thrown into the deep end” lessons, although terrifying, are also really good for helping to teach how to put things into context. I shouldn’t say they are terrifying, they used to be.. but now they are pretty much expected. It’s kind of like, oh- I haven’t done that before- you’re going to make me do it, aren’t you… well, why not. Each client/athlete is so different, and you can’t throw a textbook assessment, tape job, or symptom at them and expect them to fit the mould (but you still have to have a more than solid appreciation for what those textbooks have inside them). I’m really seeing the value of getting a variety of different experiences under my belt- working with different therapists and athletes as much as possible. The AT at work always stresses how each therapist has their own style, and how it takes learning from a few different people to really get a feel for how you want to work.

It’s very true, just having seen the way a few therapists work so far. They all have different ways of being in whatever they are doing- and no way is more effective than another. When the basics are there, everything else falls into place. It’s the trial of an AT student to try and keep the basics floating around long enough that they actually become basic, instead of this huge mass of information that seems incomprehensible and overwhelming at first glance. “Use it or lose it” might be a good phrase. “Practice makes perfect” and “Try, try again” are also applicable.

Dates with Confidence and Humbleness

Below is an excerpt from the blog I keep for UW’s AT program, as part of my final grade in the practical aspect of the courses. I thought I’d share that with you as majority of my time this past week has been spent on school related things- most of which I encompass in that post. I am working on another post to put up here in the next few days (maaaybe even today) that will cover some of the other things going on in my life! Patience!

“Ah, the life of a student- especially an AT student. There is one word we can all identify with, I’m sure, by this point in the year. Exhaustion.

Between classes, football, work (where I’m getting to do some clinical things as well), and a few other extra curriculars- I’m learning a new definitely of tired; physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, even while being completely exhausted majority of the time- I’ve had a great couple weeks experience wise!

Football has been pretty quiet the past couple weeks. Unfortunately I am only able to be there game days right now, but I hear all about the week’s practices on Fridays while doing the pre-game taping. Our game last week came with a tough loss for the team, but a thrilling 5th digit PIP joint dislocation and an interesting contusion to lateral aspect of the knee with some irritation of the sub-patellar bursa. This week’s game was even quieter, with the only coming off the field was a decent ankle inversion sprain.

I know you’re all dying to know how my heel-locks are doing. Last weekend, since I’d been making slow progress, I decided to spend a good chunk of time dedicated to perfecting my heel-lock. So I stole a friend’s ankle and went to work. I’m happy to report that this week at football not only did I absolutely nail my heel-locks- but also incorporated some very nice figure-8 heel-locks into my ankle inversion taping. Maybe some of Ron O’Neil’s magic rubbed off on me, or maybe my muscle memory is starting to finally wake up- but I’m not having near as much trouble with angles as I was even a week ago. Yay!

1382060_10151961328443086_701150282_n

The most significant AT related moment for me the past two weeks came not from the football field, but rather from working with a few clients at work with the AT there. When I’m on shift at the same time as Claude he usually has me help out with a few clients, one of which I’ve been stretching for the past 4-5wks as well as helping with some exercises. This client is a rugby player and quite a bit bigger than I am, and Claude had me start doing stretches with him so I could gain some experience with how to get my biomechanics right when pnf-ing clients who have the size advantage. It’s definitely a more challenging experience- especially with a table that’s not adjustable. It took me a few weeks to figure out what positions worked best for me and still got the job done. The past two weeks the client himself has pointed out how much more effective I’ve gotten. My favourite quote thus far has been “either she’s getting stronger or I’m getting weaker every week”. Claude’s response to that was “she’s just gaining confidence in her abilities”. Fist pump moment. This experience has also helped me in stretching some of my footballers pre-game.

A more embarrassing moment from the past couple weeks, comes again from the clinic at work, where I was observing a new assessment on a shoulder with Claude. We had just covered this in assessment and I was following along quite easily. Until Claude started quizzing me. Simple questions like “what muscle does this?” or “what am I pointing to right now?” or “what’s your IOS based on what we’ve got so far?”. While part of my brain was saying “supraspinatus”, “teres minor”, and “ RC impingement or bursa issues”, the other part which was connected to my mouth was going “uhhhhhh…crap.. I know.. just give me a minute…”. #awkward

So that was good.. There’s always something to keep us humble, right?

My goals for the next couple weeks are to obviously have less “@#$% I don’t know” moments both at work and on the field. I feel like the only way to have less of those is to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone by saying yes to every opportunity I get to do an assessment, or at least be involved. Eventually my brain will hop on board the thinking train.”