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Lets talk about Pickleball

Emily Dudzik

As a Physical Therapist and a relatively new pickleball enthusiast, I am often asked by patients to explain this game with the funny name. Pickleball is a sport that combines aspects of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It is played indoors or outdoors on a court slightly smaller than the size of a tennis court, using a paddle and a wiffle type ball.  Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles and is a sport that is enjoyed by individuals of all ages and skill levels.

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Anne Slater 4As an athletic trainer, I find that a lot of my patients/student-athletes don’t fully understand human anatomy and terminology. It’s usually easier to recover from an injury when you understand the “why,” behind treatments, restrictions and recovery time. Today, I wanted to tackle some common misnomers/misconceptions with terminology in the medical field, specifically those that relate to sports injuries. There is a lot of basic first aid and even emergency medical techniques that could almost be considered common knowledge. For example, most laymen know what the Heimlich maneuver is, and even how to perform it. However, there are a lot of terms that are often misused or misapplied to certain injuries. I wanted to try to clear some of these up and provide the correct terminology to improve communication between patients and their healthcare providers.

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Kurtis CarrollEarly specialization in one sport has become a trend in youth athletes across the country. This shift is one that has young athletes training year round to develop a specialized skill be able to play at the highest level of competition. This new thought that one must train for one sport only to be and compete with the best comes from parents, coaches, social media and the players themselves. The psychological component plays a role as parents push for scholarships and players desire to be the best in their respective sports without understanding that early specialization could be more harmful than helpful.

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Pain as a Guide

Chad MorrisIf you are like me, sports are a big part of my life. I love watching sports, playing sports, and helping my kids with sporting activities. I work with athletes of all ages, and eventually we get to the point where that client feels they may be ready to start back to their sport. It does not matter if they were injured playing the sport they love, or something else has disrupted them being able to participate. The questions start coming out, “Am I ready? Will I be okay doing this again? How will I know if I am doing damage?”

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Joe ChiaramonteWith a sports medicine career spanning 20 years (20 as a Certified Athletic Trainer-ATC and 6 as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist-CSCS), I have come across thousands of student athletes with many different injuries, medical conditions, surgical rehabilitations and performance levels. I have come to realize that student-athletes are very different from 1998 to 2018.

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Concussions and Sports


The media is placing a great deal of attention on athletes at all levels and their injuries. It is important to understand what some of the most highly publicized injuries are and how are they treated.  Concussions in sports are one of those highly publicized injuries that can occur during many different types of activities.  A concussion is an injury to the brain that occurs from rapid shaking, coming to an abrupt stop, or a direct blow to front or side of the head.  These are just a few of the many ways an athlete can suffer a sports related concussion.   There are several different degrees of concussions with differing levels of severity and symptoms.

Sports concussions and its long-term effects are undergoing a great deal of research into the prevention, detection and treatment of these injuries.  The symptoms of a concussion can vary from a simple headache to dizziness, loss of memory, confusion, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to loud noises and loss of consciousness.  Each person responds to a concussion differently.  Athletes who experience a concussion can have symptoms that continue for days, weeks and even months. 

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Athletic Training: A Unique Profession

From the late 70's, when I began participating in organized sports, and well before, there have been Certified Athletic Trainers working the sidelines, courts and fields.  These healthcare professionals are mostly 'behind the scenes' types of individuals, and are none too often recognized until tragedy strikes or emergency triage is needed. Most Certified Athletic Trainers can be recognized with their khaki pants and polo shirt with aJess Rix Concussion Catholic Central Athlete towel and medical kit draped over their shoulder. It is not an altogether understood profession, but has been growing tremendously over the past two decades. Most High Schools and Universities in the West Michigan area employ Certified Athletic Trainers. My goal with this blog is to introduce you to another side of Athletic Training that you may not know exists.

Many people believe that ATCs (Certified Athletic Trainers) are there to tape, stretch and ice athletes while participating in sports. Accurate as that is, there is so much more to their daily lives. Becoming an ATC requires a bachelor's degree and requires passing a demanding national board certification exam. Many ATCs hold master's degrees in Sports Medicine or Exercise Science. There are requirements for continuing education yearly, and ATCs stay abreast of the latest techniques and technologies in Sports Medicine.

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TAP evaluation of high school aged pitcherCoach my arm hurts”.  “Are you feeling ok, can you throw one more inning?”  The scene of seeing a young baseball player complaining of arm pain to their coach or parents is all too familiar.  Not many people are well-trained in HOW to handle a baseball player complaining of pain.  As physical therapists we have seen the alarming rise of sports injuries especially in younger kids.  Especially concerning is the sharp trend of overhead throwing athletes developing serious tendonitis, dead arm syndrome or worst of all the “Tommy John injury”.  I believe a lot of these throwing problems can be avoided with sound education to the athlete, parent and coaches.

Baseball is a passion of mine and I have helped lead our company in developing a throwing video analysis program.  We call our program TAP (Thrower’s Athletic Performance).  We have also expanded into doing community talks and educating local coaches and parents on what is so special about throwing that can lead to minor and major injuries.  Prevention is always the best model (something our whole healthcare system is sorely lacking).  So here goes my two cents on helping our baseball athletes.

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When Is It Safe To Return To Play?

How do I know when my child is safe to return to sport after injury?

It is becoming more and more common for kids today to specialize in a single sport.  This means that kids are playing one sport year-round, often for several hours per week.  They are undergoing significant and repeated stresses on their growing bodies.  This increase in sport specialization may be one reason we are seeing a rise in youth sport injuries in our clinic. 

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