December 2013 • Volume 2 • Issue 6
PROFILE: Don Kessler, ATC
There’s a wonderful symmetry going on in the life of Don Kessler, ATC.
In 1970, he received a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Arkansas. Then Don immediately entered the Navy as a hospital corpsman, and then worked as an athletic trainer for midshipmen at the Naval Academy. After his discharge from the Navy, he was hired as the very first athletic trainer at a brand new school--Delran High School in Delran, N.J., near Don’s hometown of Riverside, N.J.
THE IVY LEAGUE CALLS
After working at Delran High School, Don took a position as an assistant athletic trainer for 10 years at Princeton. “At Princeton,” Don says, “NATA Hall of Famer Dick Malacrea was my mentor. He was very hands-on and inspiring, and made you very good about helping people. Today he’s 82 and lives in New Jersey. I still call him for advice.”
Don left Princeton to become the head athletic trainer at Rutgers, where he served for 18 years. “When taking the head position, I tried to put everything into practice that Dick had taught me. I have always looked for people who want to help people, and if I didn’t see that, it didn’t matter what their experience was. I’ve carried that wherever I’ve gone.” In 2005, Don moved across the country and to take the head position at San Diego State University, where he worked for five years.
In 2010, Don decided it was time for a change. “At age 63, it was hard to work all of the hours required in Division I football, but I wasn’t ready to quit.” Luckily for Don, an alumnus of San Diego State who was a Navy admiral suggested he consider a job with the SEALs. “When I was hired,” Don says, “I became the first athletic trainer working with the SEALs on the West coast.”
HELPING DURING HELL WEEK
Don’s position with the SEALs is working at the Naval Special Warfare Training Center, also called the “school house,” in Coronado, Ca., where SEAL candidates go through a grueling six-month BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training course. He says, “The first six weeks of BUD/S training is very intense, giving the candidate a chance to see if they really want to go for it. Candidates who get injured have one chance to try again and must start over at the beginning of the six-week schedule. I do everything I can to help those who get hurt. I see a lot of stress fractures, and in rehab I have to be sure they don’t push themselves too hard, which is their nature.”
Of the 150 candidates in each SEALs class, only about 25 percent complete the first six weeks. Those men then participate in three phases of specific training, focusing on physical conditioning, diving, and land warfare. About halfway through the eight-week physical conditioning phase, SEAL candidates go through Hell Week—a test of physical and mental endurance designed to find out who has what it takes to be a SEAL.
Don explains, “Hell Week starts on a Sunday, and the guys are going constantly 24 hours a day, in the water, exercising, carrying boats in the sand—they never stop moving until Wednesday, when they get to take a two-hour nap on a cot in a tent on the beach. Then they get up and go again for another 24 hours, and take a two-hour nap on Thursday. Then it’s 24 hours of hard work and exercise until Friday. We see them once a day during Hell Week for medical evaluations to see who can and should continue. Anyone with a medical problem is treated and if necessary, rolled back into the next class.”
Don describes the SEALs candidates as very intense, very focused, and very self-driven. “Imagine being in and out of the water, 24 hours a day, wearing boots,” he says. “They are cold, wet and sandy every minute of Hell Week this time of year, because the ocean is very cold—around 50 degrees. In the summer, the water temperature is around 70 degrees, and the air temperature is in the 80s, so there are fewer issues with pneumonia….but the heat and sand chew them up and there are more problems with abrasions.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
“It has been a learning experience to patch up the SEALs candidates and keep them going under such difficult circumstances,” Don acknowledges. “But for those that make it through and graduate, there is no doubt that regardless of the circumstances, they will do whatever the mission requires.”
Hell Week offers an important life lesson for everyone, Don says. “Some of the candidates are wide awake despite the hard work and sleep deprivation. Others almost fall asleep standing, and receive an ice bath or are sent back in the ocean to help them wake up. The SEAL candidates who think about getting through that moment and just take it a little step at a time have the greatest chance of making it through. This is a good lesson to learn about all kinds of things in life...just take things one step at a time.”
Don appreciates coming full circle after serving in the Navy during the Viet Nam War, and now serving the Navy once again as a civilian. “It is very inspiring to watch what they do every day, and to help them achieve their goals. Far beyond the pay, there is a great feeling of reward when you know you had a part in the men that make it through, and you know what they’ll do to help the country and citizens.”
Over the Thanksgiving holiday last month, Don completed another circle by going back to Delran, N.J., to be inducted into the Delran High School Hall of Fame. “It feels good to close that loop, 38 years after working at the school,” Don says. “It was great to see some of the coaches who were there at the same time and see how some of the sports programs I helped start are still going.”
From all of us at Cramer, Don, congratulations on your successful career and this most deserving honor!
Students may need a break from school after concussion
A concussion should not only take a student athlete off the playing field – it may also require a break from the classroom, according to a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In the report, “Returning to Learning Following a Concussion,” released late in October at the AAP National Conference in Orlando, the AAP offers guidance to pediatricians caring for children and adolescents after suffering a concussion.
“Students appear physically normal after a concussion, so it may be difficult for teachers and administrators to understand the extent of the child’s injuries and recognize the potential need for academic adjustments,” said Mark Halstead, MD, FAAP, a lead author of the clinical report. “But we know that children who’ve had a concussion may have trouble learning new material and remembering what they’ve learned, and returning to academics may worsen concussion symptoms.”
Research has shown that a school-aged student usually recovers from a concussion within three weeks. If symptoms are severe, some students may need to stay home from school after a concussion. If symptoms are mild or tolerable, the parent may consider returning him or her to school, perhaps with some adjustments. Students with severe or prolonged symptoms lasting more than three weeks may require more formalized academic accommodations.
The AAP recommends a collaborative team approach to help a student recovering from a concussion. This team should consist of the child or adolescent’s pediatrician, family members and individuals at the child’s school responsible for both the student’s academic schedule and physical activity. A symptom checklist can help evaluate what symptoms the student is experiencing, and how severe they are. “Every concussion is unique and symptoms will vary from student to student, so managing a student’s return to the classroom will require an individualized approach,” said Dr. Halstead. “The goal is to minimize disruptions to the student’s life and return the student to school as soon as possible, and as symptoms improve, to increase the student’s social, mental and physical activities.”
Because relatively little research has been conducted on how concussion affects students’ learning, the AAP based its report primarily on expert opinion and adapted it from a concussion management program developed at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Center for Concussion in Denver, Colo. The AAP calls for further research on the effects and role of cognitive rest after concussion to improve understanding of the best ways to help a student recovering from a concussion.
Biosensor warns when athletes are about to ‘hit the wall’
A new biosensor, applied to the human skin like a temporary tattoo, can alert marathoners, competitive bikers, and other “extreme” athletes that they’re about to run out of steam, scientists are reporting. The July 2013 issue of the American Chemical Society’s journal, Analytical Chemistry, describes the first human tests of the sensor, which also could help soldiers and others who engage in intense exercise—and their athletic trainers—monitor stamina and fitness.
Joseph Wang and seven colleagues at the Department of Nanoengineering, University of California San Diego, say that the sensor monitors lactate, the lactic acid released in sweat. Wang explains that lactate forms when the muscles need more energy than the body can supply from the “aerobic” respiration that suffices during mild exercise. The body shifts to “anaerobic” metabolism, producing lactic and lactate. That helps for a while, but lactate builds up in the body, causing extreme fatigue and the infamous “bonking out,” where an athlete just cannot continue. Current methods of measuring lactate are cumbersome, require blood samples, or do not give instant results. Wang’s team sought to develop a better approach.
They describe the first human tests of a lactate sensor applied to the skin like a temporary tattoo that stays on and flexes with body movements. Tests on 10 human volunteers showed that the sensor accurately measured lactate levels in sweat during exercise. “Such skin-worn metabolite biosensors could lead to useful insights into physical performance and overall physiological status, hence offering considerable promise for diverse sport, military, and biomedical applications,” the scientists report. Future research will further correlate sweat lactate levels with fitness, performance, and blood lactate levels, Wang added.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
“Fuel in the Furnace” By Bob Chambers, Duke University
We consider the breakfast on the day of the game to be our important meal. It must put fuel in the furnace! This breakfast is eaten at 8 a.m. and consists of:
6 oz. orange juice
coffee, tea, or milk
Our meal is quiet and orderly. We don’t allow fans and relatives. The “horn tooters” don’t march through the dining room. The pep squad do their stuff on the streets. The boys eat, go to their rooms or to a meeting and our department gets ready to tape.
With this meal at 8 a.m. we are just a little ahead of the mob, and we find the weekly casualness of this plan pays dividends later in the day.
Cramer’s Tape Remover is more versatile than a triple threat back. In addition to the myriad training room uses, Mrs. Coach finds it an ideal spot remover.
Sixth Addition of Basic Athletic Training
Cramer is proud to introduce the sixth edition of Basic Athletic Training, An Introductory Course in the Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries—a.k.a. BAT6. This comprehensive guide was published cooperatively by Cramer Products and Sagamore Publishing, and the content was thoroughly reviewed and updated by Kenneth Wright, D.A., Scott Barker, M.S., ATC, Jason Bennett, D.A., ATC, and Randy Deere, D.A., AT-R.
BAT6 is an introduction to current philosophies, procedures and practices related to the care and prevention of athletic injuries, updated since the 2007 release of BAT5. This new edition provides students with all they need to know about the basics of athletic training, including common preventive, evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation techniques. BAT6 is also an excellent reference guide for athletic trainers at all levels, and for anyone concerned with the health and well being of athletes.
The text is divided into 13 chapters and offers a step-by-step presentation of the duties and responsibilities of physicians, athletic trainers, and other licensed healthcare providers. Chapters 6 through 12 explore various body structures and how to prevent, evaluate, and treat injuries associated with those structures. A content-rich appendix includes common words, a glossary of terms, and a listing of healthcare and sports industry website resources. Each book contains a unique code that connects the reader to web-based content including educational videos and dynamic views of joint anatomy (bones, ligaments, muscles), dermatomes and myotomes, basic treatment protocol, evaluation format, common injuries, and referral guidelines.
“BAT6 includes physician content, competencies in athletic training, and other current knowledge,” co-author Ken Wright says. “It also has up-to-date information about drug testing, supplements, and nutrition. BAT5 was one of the first athletic training books to include an interactive CD. BAT6 is again leading the way as a training book with online content. We’ve also added instructor resources, so an educator using this book has access to tests, power points, and interactive technology.”
Ken says that the practicing athletic trainers and curriculum specialists on the BAT editorial board provide excellent feedback and ideas for updates to include in each version. “We’re excited about the changes we’ve made and what we’re progressing toward with this book,” he says. “Students and professionals at all levels will enjoy the three dimensional anatomy and interactive dynamic found on the web content.”
To view where to purchase BAT6, click here.