Go With Your Gut: 3 Important Tips For Injuries On Site
As an Athletic Trainer, there have been plenty of times where I have had to go with a quick judgement call. A lot of the times, AT’s are the ones that are on site for injuries, and we often need to make quick decisions on if we think the injured is able to RTP (return to play) or if they need further medical assistance. Being on the sidelines during games is probably the most often you will need to make these quick decisions, because the coach needs to know if the athlete can RTP for the next couple of games. In wrestling, you only have a couple of minutes of injury time, so that is a great example of when we need to make a snap judgement call, send him in or forfeit the match. When we are in these situations, we use our training to evaluate, but we sometimes need to go with what our gut is telling us. There is sometimes a very fine line on if the athlete is ready or not, and sometimes your gut is the only thing that can guide you. Here are my 3 stories of when I had to listen to my gut.
-When in Doubt, get it checked out!
I had a track athlete who came down into my room c/o (complaining of) hip pain. He was walking with a funny gait, but was able to WB (weight-bare) just fine. He told me that they were practicing the long jump indoors that day (due to the wonderful MN weather we had in March) and on his last jump he felt like something “popped”. I had him lay on my tx (treatment) table and I was looking at his hip joint, and hip flexor. I knew that sometimes kids can feel like there hip “popped” when it is actually one of the tendons snapping over a bone. I also knew that it was pretty hard to dislocate your hip out of the hip socket, but I looked to make sure that the head of the femur was articulating correctly in the joint. That all checked out to be good, so I was poking around a bit on his Iliac Crest when he about jumped out of his skin. I was very surprised that he had this reaction and it confused me a bit. I was sure that he had just done something to a soft tissue structure, but something in my gut told me that he needed to get his looked at. I sent him in for X-rays and sure enough there was something more going on. He told me that the X-rays showed he had an apophyseal avulsion fx on his Iliac crest. This is an injury that needs to be healed with rest, otherwise it could get worse. I was so happy that I went with my gut instead of telling him to ice and get back to practice.
-Its ok to ask for a second opinion!
I had a football player go down during the last play of the half. I think you could hear his screams from China, so I knew something was seriously wrong. When we got out to him he was in a great deal of pain, due to an injury to his Clavicle (collar bone). I could feel that it was broken, and we (the medical team that was at this event helping me out) also thought that it was displaced (not a clean break that could heal on its own). We sent him into the ER to get X-rays, and he reported back the next day that the doc he saw told him it was a clean break and to wear a sling for a couple of weeks. Something in my gut was telling me that this was not right. I contacted the doctor that looked at him on the sideline and told her what had happened. I also asked if he could get into her clinic and get a second look at it, just to be safe. Sure enough they found that the thing was shattered and he needed to get into surgery. This could have been a MAJOR health issue for him in the future. I am so glad that he was able to get the care he needed.
-Ask for help
I had a basketball player dislocate her finger during a game. A finger! Easy Peasy! I actually enjoy reducing dislocations so I was thinking “bring it”! Well, she brought it! This sucker was jammed in SO bad, it wouldn’t budge for me. I knew that the bone had gone up and on top of the other one, when most dislocations kind of go out to the side, and are thus easier to reduce.
I was feeling pretty defeated that I couldn’t get the finger to reduce and I wanted to keep trying, but I knew that she was in pain and I decided to have her go in to have a doc reduce it. It ended up being a bugger for the docs to get in at the hospital as well, so I didn’t feel as bad! Sometimes I feel like it’s hard for people to ask for help, but it is ok, and is often needed and the right thing to do.
I would love to hear a time when you had to “go with your gut” and the story behind it!