Medical Support of Sporting Teams in Barbados (frustration entry)

As sports continues to grow in Barbados and the Caribbean, I am still very disappointed in the lack of support provided for athletes and players. Without them there would be no sport to be played, viewed or enjoyed. While I appreciate that there are varying levels of sport participation, for example, junior, senior, intermediate, club, national, international, leisure – the level of basic support needs given to athletes should be of a particular standard. Athletes should have access to good equipment, good training facilities, good coaches and more importantly good access to medical support.

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Injury in sport is inevitable, from a simple blister, to contact injuries, to overuse injuries, to sprains & strains to more serious concussion, fractures or cardiac arrest- athletes are predisposed to many of these simply from participating in sport.

Quite recently I witnessed a rather unfortunate event which cemented in my mind that these injury risks in sports are still not taken as seriously as they should be.

While sitting watching a local football match, I witnessed a player fall and exclaim “AHHHH my hand brek, my hand brek!”. I immediately rose from my seat and starred in anticipation of how the player would be managed (the physio in me was ready to scale the fence and run onto the pitch, however in this instance I was merely a spectator). The linesman disregarded this players’ exclamation and obvious gripe and writhing and rolling in pain on the ground and waited a total of 10 seconds (count 10 seconds now- 1, 1000, 2, 1000…x10) before flagging the referee and pausing the game.

 

sideline medics

All the while I can see from my view in the stands a player in obvious distress with a possibly fractured and dislocated elbow. After finally stopping the game, the “medic” ran onto the field carrying a small cooler and medical bag and approached the player cautiously. In my opinion she appeared to be afraid and unsure of what to do and soon called for the EMTs to bring the stretcher onto the pitch. At this time my anger began rapidly increasing as 2-5mins had now passed and no one made any effort to splint or stabilise the players dislocated elbow. While understanding the lack of availability of splints, the simple and BASIC method of using the players shirt to tuck and support his arm was not employed (clear indication of lack of knowledge of the medical personnel). Much to my dismay the player was transferred onto the stretcher with his elbow unstable. I then returned to my seat with my hands shaking in disbelief and feeling uneasy for the player in tremendous pain. I then watched as the ambulance sat for a further 10 minutes before departing.

Now there are many things I believe went wrong here however the final conclusion of this post is WE NEED TO PROVIDE BETTER MEDICAL SUPPORT FOR PLAYERS & ATHLETES PERIOD! Whether paid, unpaid, volunteer or not the medical team/person on any sport bench is THE one of the most critical person/s!

medic

Football in Barbados in particular is known for having “medics” as their medical support, however they are almost never qualified to handle or assess injuries. I am tired seeing these medics rush onto fields and without question or assessment apply cold spray to any injury or problem. A player has cramp- cold spray, contact injury- cold spray, concussion…

I am therefore making a bold and public plea to all involved to do better.

ATTENTION SPORTING ASSOCIATIONS/ FEDERATIONS (to name a few)

The Barbados Olympic Association

The Barbados Sports Medicine Association

The Barbados Physical Therapy Association

The Barbados Defense Force

The Barbados Football Association

The Barbados Hockey Federation

The Barbados Rugby Football Union

The Barbados Netball Association

The Athletics Association of Barbados

Persons sitting on any sideline should have an up to date Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, knowledge of the sport and common injuries associated, basic emergency response training and proper immobilisation techniques. In addition, all associations/ federations should have a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for clear instructions of emergency procedures. Email Marita Marshall (sports physiotherapist) at marshallmarita30@gmail.com for more information on how to establish this if you don’t already have one for your team/ association.

 

Let us all do our part to ensure that we PROTECT our athletes.

 

Burnout is real… stress is real… Anxiety and Depression are REAL.

As usual it’s been a while since I’ve written but here goes it.

This one is a bit more serious and super personal but I felt like sharing to allow others to see that all that glitters isn’t always gold.

I currently work in professional sport and often high pressure and stress environment daily. When I first started the job I put exceptional pressure on myself to “do everything right”, to not make mistakes, to stay on top of everything… except taking care of myself.

As a physio working with a professional team, we often spend long hours taking care of 14-20 players at a time and put self care on the back burner. Well, it definitely caught up to me and I paid for it big time.

Our team was in preparation for a World Cup defense and that was my sole focus and the focus of everyone on the team. I had to make sure I had all players fit and available to play this very special defense on our home soil in the Caribbean.

I spent long hours working daily, minimal time catching up with family and friends and little to no time on myself or doing things that I enjoyed.

I felt I needed to focus all of my energy on my team and its performances.

We came to the end of that World Cup which ended prematurely in a semifinal defeat to current champions Australia and to say the least I felt relieved but strangely unfulfilled and… empty.

It was indescribable…

I returned home to family and friends and should have been happy but I felt lost. It had been an entire year and I felt like I missed out on valuable moments with them. I felt isolated… I was unsure of how to have conversations with the people closest to me… I felt like a horrible friend, sister, daughter and person.

Christmas holidays came around and that year I was terribly uninterested, I began to have very negative thoughts and didn’t want to socialise as I usually would at this time of year. I didn’t even feel to celebrate my birthday and anyone who knows me knowss I go over the top for birthdays. I love a celebration.

I wasn’t quite sure what was happening to me but I knew it wasn’t a good feeling… needless to say I wasn’t myself but no one seemed to notice or… if they did no one said anything to me.

Soo I just went along thinking it would just pass… I was wrong… dead wrong.

Christmas ended and the New Year begun, I had little to no excitement about this, I didn’t write down my new year plans/ goals as is customary, I was just going through the motions… existing.

I returned to work and preparations began once again for another series against Pakistan. I’ve always wanted to visit Pakistan (against most persons beliefs) to see a very close friend of mine from university and I’ve always wanted to see Dubai… because well who doesn’t want to go to Dubai and ride ATVS and camels in the desert?!

This however was my breaking point, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t focus on work, my mind was constantly racing and I was just extremely exhausted trying to rearrange my thoughts and focus on work. I never ever thought I would have to decline an opportunity to work with my team or worse, an opportunity to see not only Pakistan but Dubai as well.

I had to… there was no way I could travel half way around the world in the state that I was in without it being a complete disaster and embarrassment to myself. 😔 After speaking with many persons close to me I decided to do what was best for me and that was to withdraw from the tour and head home for some much needed rest and professional help for what had now become unbearable anxiety and depression.

I’ve always had some awareness of mental health and mental illness but I always wished it never happened to me. Little did I know that I was doing nothing to preserve my own mental health. I would preach to my patients about taking time to find activities they love and enjoy doing but never did it for myself. After seeking professional help from a therapist and taking medication I slowly found myself being me again.

The stigma associated with mental health and illness is slowly decreasing and I’m always happy to see others sharing stories of their own personal struggles and triumphs.

I know many people who think sports and travel is glamorous but there’s way more to it that meets the eye.

I’m thankful for my friends, family, colleagues and therapists who helped me through this tough time and genuinely happy to have learnt that I can’t do it all on my own and it’s ok to ask for help sometimes.

For other physios out there here are a couple tips I’ve learnt to include to avoid this happening again:

• set boundaries and working times for yourself and clients

• schedule time to do things you enjoy

• talk to people you can trust about your feelings and mood

• make time to exercise and eat mindfully

• give yourself time ALONE

• get help from a professional (doctor, therapist, psychologist)

• be honest with yourself

Thanks to https://www.theanxiousphysio.com/ for inspiring me to write my own blog on this familiar issue physios face but don’t seem to talk openly about.

I’ll just end by saying.. be kind.. always… ❤️

you never know what battles another person may be facing.

Big Games… My Commonwealth games experience #GoldCoast2018

I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d like to, but this week makes it one year since I decided to write my first blog!

So I thought I’d take a look back to the 2018 Commonwealth games April 4-15th #GC2018…

Attending the games held a special excitement, not only because they were hosted on the Gold Coast in Australia but the mere prestige of the games. The Commonwealth games are dubbed “the mini Olympics” ; Top athletes from all over the commonwealth coming together to compete at a level almostt comparable to the Olympics!

Travel to Australia in itself was the first leg of the journey and while luckily for me my trip from New Zealand (where I was situated on a previous tour) was only 3.5hrs, the team from Barbados travelled over 20+ hours before arriving on the Gold Coast.

Overcoming a bit of jet lag, adjusting to a new time zone and warm temperature were the first hurdles on arriving into the village. The village was sprawling and gradually bustled with energy as athletes begun to fill in. After settling in quickly, team Barbados’ athletes began their training and soon competition. The medical team all worked around the clock to provide coverage and medical support to Barbados’ 45 athletes in multiple disciplines (swimming, cycling, triathlon, netball, boxing, table tennis, badminton, shooting, track and field).

Days typically started and ended in the team physio room, early morning taping and strapping in preparation for training/competition and ended with hands on physio and massages for the next days play. During the day, physio included match/race coverage, time in recovery rooms, polyclinic visits, ultrasound/MRI investigations or in clinic rehab. Most of my time was spent with our netball team …our single team sport. Ensuring effective recovery and optimal injury management was key to allow the ladies to perform in a tightly packed schedule of matches and alternate training and match days. It was my first time working with the ladies and in the fast paced non-contact sport which sometimes indeed became physical resulting in one athlete suffering a mild concussion.

Physios play a crucial role in assisting coaches with general player management including managing training loads and injuries. Thus, physio input is important in guiding player selection to allow for the best players to compete.

Multi sport games provide opportunities and experiences like no other! Being able to interact with medical professionals and physios from all over the world is truly priceless and definitely one of the reasons I enjoy travel and the games. The inclusion of para athletes into the village and games also made the Gold Coast experience even more special.

The Commonwealth games completed my third participation as physio in a medical team and made for a challenging but memorable one on the Gold Coast!

Countries of the Commonwealth

https://thecgf.com/countries

Africa– Botswana,Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda,United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia

Americas– Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago

Asia– Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka

Europe– Cyprus, Malta, United Kingdom

Pacific-Australia, Fiji Islands ,Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

Goal setting…writing down your goals

It’s the start of yet another year and as is customary many people decide on “New Years resolutions” or “New Year goals”…but how many persons stick to them after a couple of months? Better yet, how many of you have taken the time to actually write your goals down on paper?

Studies have been found to show that persons who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Writing your goals down gives you a clear visual picture of those things you want to achieve and helps to act as a clear reminder of those things you so eagerly wished to work towards at the start of the year.

Now, goals need not only be written at the start of a year and can be broken down into both short term and long term.

When setting goals it’s important to make them specific, realistic, measurable and time bound.

In rehab we often sit with our patients/athletes to discuss realistic goals both in the short term and long term to ensure that all parties are aligned and working towards a common goal(s). These short and long term goals should always have a time frame attached, that way plotting the journey to achieving them along a specific timeline keeps you focused on the task at hand and gives feedback on progress if specific targets are not met. While hitting every target on time may not always happen as planned, imagine if you had no physical note or stipulated timeframe to work within? You’d have no idea if you were hitting a target or not.

Goal setting is a very useful and powerful process that can be applied to almost any task in life. Whether it be physical, career, family, education, attitude, service or personal, spending some quiet time reflecting on what you want to do and then taking steps to achieve it can boost your motivation, self confidence, and bring self fulfillment after achievement.

Try writing your goals this year-make sure to enjoy the journey working towards them and surely the rewards will come!

Happy goal setting!

Physio M