Monday, June 29, 2015

Incorporating Exercise Science Best Practices into the Work Day - Guest Post

Throughout the history of our blog, we have attempted to highlight all the professions working and dealing with athletes.  One such profession, athletic trainers, are an imperative component to any program dealing with athletes.  However, all too often we think of this role being limited to the athletic field when in all actuality, athletic trainers serve a variety of key and important roles. 

The following guest blog is brought to us by Valerie Lisiecki, ATC is the Head Athletic Trainer for The Injury Prevention Specialists or IPS (www.preventworkinjury.com) that highlights just that.  She has been a certified athletic trainer for 8 years and specializes in sports medicine for the occupational athlete. She is a Level 2 Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist and uses her expertise to provide onsite care for a manufacturer with 580 employees.  Thank you Valerie for your contribution to the profession and this blog.

Incorporating Exercise Science Best Practices into the Work Day

Injury prevention is important in any setting, but becomes even more important when it applies to athletes. Athletes use their bodies in extreme ways to perform a skill. It is imperative that they maintain strength, flexibility, and health in order to optimize performance and results. Some professionals apply these principles and their expertise in biomechanics and ergonomics to both assist with performance optimization and prevention of injuries in a similar fashion in the occupational athlete.

Athlete is defined as “a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.” This definition reaches beyond a traditional athlete and includes a certain sect of individuals known as Occupational Athletes.

Occupational Athletes will likely develop multiple musculoskeletal problems throughout their career. The long-time employees, and/or aging workforce, are especially susceptible because they have spent a longer time using physical labor, hour after hour, day after day, and year after year. If you can imagine yourself doing strenuous yard work or painting a house for an entire 8-hour day, then you can then imagine how that might make your body feel for the next two days. Occupational Athletes do these things daily, in varying degrees, without much time for rest.

IPS or The Injury Prevention Specialists brings sports medicine and exercise science into the workplace. The same programs that football, basketball, and soccer athletes use on the field or on the court can be applied to occupational athletes to prepare their bodies to meet the functional demands of their workplace.

IPS uses athletic trainers (ATs) to provide employer-based and OSHA compliant injury prevention programs. Athletic trainers are health care professionals who are nationally certified and licensed to prevent, assess, and rehabilitate musculoskeletal injuries under the direction of a physician. Athletic trainers trained in this area also have a wealth of knowledge of biomechanics and ergonomics which proves to be invaluable when implementing workplace ergonomic and exercise programs.

Occupational Athletes typically put their bodies in awkward postures throughout the day for an extended period of time. Habits form when an employee is looking to get the job done quicker or better at the risk of poor posture and/or ergonomics. That is the opportunity for athletic trainers to incorporate ergonomic improvements and make a positive impact.

The IPS Occupational Athlete Program is designed for easy implementation and complements any workplace ergonomics program that is already in place. The Occupational Athlete Program is the science of fitting employees to the workplace. IPS provides onsite injury assessments with root cause analysis, first aid, and comprehensive ergonomic analysis. IPS implements stretching and strengthening programs, medical case management, emergency response, and health and wellness initiatives.

Onsite athletic trainers are able to triage and handle most injuries before employees reach a physician. This saves the employee from having long bouts of time between points of care which dramatically reduces the time needed for recovery, improves the quality of care and increases customer satisfaction. This also enables the athletic trainer to recognize the problem at the source before an injury gets so far along that it becomes less manageable through conservative care and ergonomic changes. The onsite athletic trainer can also work one-on-one with the employee at their actual workstation while they perform their job tasks.

We know that an athletic trainer on the sidelines helps to reduce injuries, expedites care and improves return to sport.  This results in decreased health care costs, improved recovery time and decreased time on the disabled list.  This is similar to the occupational athlete athletic trainer.  The convenience of an onsite athletic trainer reduces new Workers’ Compensation claims, OSHA recordable injuries and rates, days away from work, job transfer, and restricted work. The work-related medical expenses decrease while employee productivity increases.

IPS employs experts in workplace injury prevention and Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialists (CEAS). They bring sports medicine research into the workplace to battle work-related injuries at the root cause. Workplace injuries can affect the bottom line in any company and especially when OSHA begins to notice when there are too many workplace injuries in a particular location.  This can aid to increased legal fees, increased frequency of inspections and costly implementation of stringent work place policies and restrictions. IPS has proven the injury prevention strategy with manufacturers, warehouses, aviation maintenance, service industries, and office employees.  One case in point where an onsite athletic trainer impacts injury rates in the occupational athlete.

A self-insured Fortune 500 Company with approximately 350 production and 150 office employees. They were averaging approximately $300,000 in direct workers’ compensation expenses and had an annual OSHA Recordable Rate that was almost double the industry average. They implemented a full-time onsite athletic trainer and in 18 months their workers’ compensation expenses were reduced by over 90% and their OSHA Recordable Rate decreased by 80%.  


Over the course of 8 years the company has saved >$2M in direct workers’ compensation expenses and has prevented over 250 OSHA Recordable Injuries. They have been nationally recognized as a safety site of excellence and other sites throughout the US have started to adopt their model of injury prevention.

Implementation of this same model with athletic trainers in medium sized companies has similar results.  An athletic trainer implemented in a medium-sized manufacturing employer of approximately 120 employees and in two short months prevented over $36,000 in direct workers’ compensation expenses. That equals a return on investment of $15 saved for every $1 spent.

Athletic trainers help to prevent overuse, repetitive, and static motion injuries. This is accomplished by addressing workstation organization, function, and placement of tools or computers. A workforce is just like a sports team, and when an employee or a teammate is injured the group is weakened. It is important to strengthen the individuals in the workforce or on the team in order to operate at full capacity for optimal results.

For more information about workforce readiness or onsite athletic trainers. (904) 508-5800 www.prevenworkinjury.com.  You can also check us out on social media for weekly tips and injury prevention articles.

Just another testament on how athletic trainers can help you avoid injuries and perform better.  As simple as it sounds,  move better, feel better, perform better and last longer.  That simple.   If you like what you see, SHARE THE PASSION!  It is the biggest compliment you can give.  Follow us on Twitter @ACL_prevention and tweet about it.  #MovingToChangeMovement and help us spread the passion.

Trent Nessler, PT, MPT, DPT:  National Director for Sports Medicine – Physiotherapy Associates | Author | Educator |Innovator in Movement Science and Technology.  Dr. Nessler is a physical therapist and owner of Athletic Therapy Services.  He serves as National Director of Sports Medicine and movement change consultant for practices and organizations looking to develop injury prevention initiatives and strategies.  He has been researching and developing movement assessments and technologies for >10 years is the author of the textbook Dynamic Movement Assessment: Enhance Performance and Prevent Injury, and associate editor for International Journal of Athletic Therapy & Training.  You can contact him directly at trent.nessler@myphysio.com

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