Coronavirus canceled your clinic? Here’s 5 ways to still help athletes!

 Brazil – March 15, 2020 Gremio players wearing masks before the match is played behind closed doors as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world REUTERS/Diego Vara

In light of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, I want to extend to you, and all our readers, wishes for good health. As a ‘new normal’ takes hold each day and then seems to change with the next, I know that you’ve got a lot on your mind. For those of you in private clinical practice, there are business decisions that must be made. Professionals that work with sports teams are seeing the competition and training seasons altered or canceled altogether. Lacking access to the athletes that need you is frustrating. Some of you may be called into hospital practice, as many patients will need rehabilitation after a prolonged illness.

Be assured that the Sports Injury Bulletin will still provide you with the information that you need to bring science to your treatment. While maintaining our regular editorial schedule and focus on athletic injury, I will also start providing our readers with refreshers in cardiac and pulmonary rehab. Considering that the coronavirus knows no boundaries, it is safe to assume that going forward, some athletes you treat will have a history of exposure and resulting cardio-pulmonary weakness.

I want to emphasize the need to follow your local health official’s recommendations regarding strategies to minimize exposure. As health professionals, washing hands is a simple tactic that often gets taken for granted. If you are still seeing clients face-to-face, washing before and after treatment is the best way to protect everyone.

If you’ve moved to remote or telehealth treatment of patients, here are a few suggestions.

  1. Encourage sleep – As there’s no apparent rush to be well in time for upcoming playoffs or tournaments, encourage clients to make the most of their time stepping down from a rigorous schedule. Sleep is one of the simplest and most effective ways to promote injury healing and enhance performance. This change in routine is a good time for them to schedule in eight hours or more every night. While you’re at it, make sure you’re getting enough rest yourself!
  2. Review – Progress exercises remotely focusing on quality and technique. Emphasize proper form, making sure athletes follow rehab protocols correctly. Need a refresher yourself? Review the articles in our extensive library, especially the Masterclass in-depth series.
  3. Use technology to continue rehab – An athlete may not have access to an entire gym, making the need for near-perfect execution of their home program a must! Live feedback is always best, but if that’s not available, send videos back and forth via email demonstrating correct execution and then the client’s interpretation of the instruction. Use apps like Huddle Technique to offer athletes feedback on their performance. Be mindful of your state’s and country’s laws regarding privacy and technology and follow regulations appropriately.
  4. Bolster professional relationships – Utilize this time to reach out to coaches, trainers, and physicians. Time spent developing a team culture amongst the professionals that serve athletes is never wasted. Share your knowledge about injury prevention via a web-based conference and discuss trends you’re seeing in your local sports community. Help teams analyze injury, training, and performance demands, plot correlations, and develop protocols for an injury prevention program to implement when athletes return.
  5. Have the conversations you don’t have time for in clinic – The break in regularly scheduled workouts gives you an opportunity to reach out to endurance athletes most at risk for RED-S, especially females. Take the time to ask uncomfortable questions about eating, obsessive exercise behaviors, and menstrual cycles. Athletes may respond better to an email survey or web-based conversation than a one-on-one talk in the clinic. Educate athletes via webinar about the risks of RED-S and encourage them to use this time to rest and nourish their bodies.

Athletes, even already injured ones, are nervous right now about their ability to remain competitive during this interruption in training. Work with trainers and coaches to circulate accurate information about working-out at home. During sports closures, encourage athletes to follow social distancing guidelines, provide them with appropriate training parameters, and assure them that their performance level will return better than ever with a healthy and well-rested body.


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