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The First Aider

Cryotherapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome`

January 25, 2015

wrist pain carpal tunnel

Have you noticed ongoing tingling and numbness in your hand and wrist when you drive, talk on the phone, or when you first wake up? Are you experiencing intense, cutting pain that sharply pierces your wrist, and then moves up your arm and shoulder? Have your hands felt weak, causing you to drop personal belongings or other objects? If so, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) may be the culprit.

Cryotherapy is a fantastic way to treat symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Cold packs filled with comforting gel can relieve sharp pain and deflate puffiness and pressure on your median nerve.

For instant pain relief of your wrist, try the THERA°PEARL Wrist Wrap. It will fight knife-like pain with the power of icy cold gel that soothes. When you need the nurturing, numbing power of gel-filled pearls that are never as hard as ice cubes or frozen peas, apply the ice pack for 10-20 minutes.

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January 10, 2015

Nick Kenney, head athletic trainer for the Kansas City Royals, faces a challenge heading into spring training this year: his athletes have lost a month of off-season preparation. Of course, Nick’s not complaining. A shorter off-season is the welcome result of being in last season's playoffs, winning the American League pennant, and playing seven games in the World Series!

“Losing a month of preparation is a problem we’ll gladly take on,” Nick says. “We tell the guys that they can’t catch up, because they also have to rest longer having played longer last season. It’s a balancing act. But the good thing is the playoffs and World Series also allows us see the players and work with them for that extra month. Since then, my staff and I have been in constant contact with the players about preparing for the 2015 season, balancing training with functional activity. It’s a long and hard process. Royals’ GM Dayton Moore and owner David Glass have done a great job of allowing us to fly the athletes in so we can work with them in person and see how they’re doing in the off season.”

Nick’s team includes Jeff Blum, physical therapist and rehab coordinator; Kyle Turner, assistant athletic trainer; and Ryan Stoneberg, strength and conditioning coach. He also works very closely with orthopedic surgeon Vince Key, M.D.


Like many in the profession, Nick realized he wanted to be an athletic trainer after going through rehab himself. The injury was a torn ACL, and it happened during the football pre-season of his high school senior year in Wilmington, Ohio. “Though I lost my senior year of athletic eligibility because of that injury, going through the rehab process with my athletic trainer meant everything to me," Nick says. "I thought about the importance of that person in my life and felt it would be pretty rewarding to have someone depend on you that way. It was also a way to stay involved in athletics without playing.”

After high school graduation in 1990, Nick attended Wilmington College in his hometown, a Division III school, majoring in sports medicine and minoring in business. After graduation, he secured a job with the Cincinnati Cyclones, a minor league hockey team.


Nick was with the Cyclones for seven years. During the summer off-seasons, he worked at a clinic that was the official rehab center for the Cincinnati Reds. He rehabbed Reds’ players and got to know the team and the staff. When the team had an opening for a second assistant athletic trainer, they asked Nick to interview. He got the job and started in 2002. After a year, the assistant trainer he worked with became the head athletic trainer for the Cleveland Indians, and a year later, he asked Nick to join his staff.

“I joined the Indians for the 2005 season, and stayed through the 2009 season. In the off-season that year, the Royals contacted me and asked me to interview for their head athletic trainer position. At the time I didn’t feel ready and thought I needed another year--but they wanted to talk to me and I couldn’t turn down that opportunity. I thought I’d give it a shot, learn from the experience, and do better the next time I was asked to interview. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a next time!”


So Nick joined the Royals for the 2010 season. “The team was young, but as we gained experience we got better and better. There was momentum heading into 2014, and a lot of expectations. We didn’t meet them during first half of the season, but the guys were confident they’d do it. They weren’t afraid of anything. That’s what was so fantastic about the playoff experience—they weren’t scared. They had fun, and it showed.”

Nick had fun, too. “As we were going down the stretch, we could just tell that this town was going to explode. It was so much fun to see the town rally around the team and how invested our fans were. I’d drive home from a playoff or World Series game and there would be eight to ten neighbors congregated around a fire pit in my cul-de-sac--at 1 or 2 in the morning, in the middle of the week! We heard stories about people skipping work and selling all kinds of things to come up with money to buy tickets. It was awesome.”

Nick had experienced the playoffs in 2007 with the Indians (they lost in game seven, missing a chance at the World Series) and wanted to handle things a bit differently with the Royals. “With the Indians, I was completely focused on the job. This time I broadened my scope. We worked really hard to plan ahead for any possible situation that may arise. It was important to me that everyone embraced the moment and had a great time. You may only have one shot at the World Series, and you want to do it the best you can. It was fantastic being able to give my staff’s family, my family, my kids and their friends, and my friends and neighbors the experience of going to playoff and World Series games. They’ll never forget it.”


Nick has been recognized several times for outstanding work. While with the Indians, the medical staff was named best in baseball in 2007 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) and Baseball Prospectus magazine. In 2011, he and his athletic training staff received the Dick Martin award for having the best medical staff in baseball. And in 2013, Nick and Kyle received award from PBATS of Major League Athletic Training Staff of the Year.

“The accolades are flattering, and it’s nice to be recognized by peers, but the awards are based on all of the people involved in the process. There are so many people who make me look really good. Jeff, Kyle and Ryan are the best at what they do, and Dr. Key is passionate about the team and completely accessible. We talk with one another possibly more than we do our own wives. Dayton Moore is one of the finest human beings I’ve ever been around. He commands good people to help drive the organization. From every angle, it has all come together for us. That’s what you work toward and hope for, but it only comes to fruition if you work with people willing to help guide the ship.”

Nick gives the credit for his success to his wife of 20 years, Patty. “We’ve been married for 20 years, but have been together only about 10 years, because I travel so much,” Nick says. “She is wonderful and has allowed me to do what is necessary to be successful. Patty is my rock.” Nick and Patty have four children, ages 19, 17, and 14-year-old twins. Read More


January 9, 2015

According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 250,000 ACL surgeries are performed annually in the United States, totaling more than $500 million in healthcare costs each year. An ACL rupture is one of the most devastating sports injuries, responsible for sidelining countless athletes for a season and derailing athletic careers.

Since the ACL is incapable of healing itself, surgeons rely on autografts for reconstruction. The most common is the bone-patellar tendon-bone (BPTB) graft, in which the surgeon removes part of the patellar tendon to replace the damaged ACL.

“BPTB autografts have a high incidence of knee pain and discomfort that does not go away,” says Guillermo Ameer, professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and professor of surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine. “By saving the patient’s patellar tendon and using an off-the-shelf product, one may have a better chance of preserving the natural biomechanics of the knee.”

Ameer and his research team are working to engineer such a product by combining three components: polyester fibers that are braided to increase strength and toughness; an inherently antioxidant and porous biomaterial previously created in Ameer’s lab; and calcium nanocrystals, a mineral naturally found in human teeth and bones. His work was supported by a National Science Foundation Career Award and published in the December issue of the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

During ACL reconstruction surgeries, tunnels are drilled into the femur and tibia bones to hold the new ligament in a fixed position. Ameer created a bone-like material by combining his antioxidant biomaterials with the calcium nanocrystals; he then embedded braided polyester fibers into it. The artificial ligament’s bone-like ends healed to the native bone in the drilled tunnels, anchoring the ligament into place.

By studying an animal model, Ameer and his team noticed that the animal’s natural bone and tissue cells migrated into the pores of the artificial ligament, populating it throughout and integrating with the bone tunnels. While longer-term studies are necessary to evaluate the potential use of the approach in humans, Ameer is optimistic about the results.

“The engineered ligament is biocompatible and can stabilize the knee, allowing the animal to function,” Ameer said. “Most importantly, we may have found a way to integrate an artificial ligament with native bone.” Read More


January 8, 2015

Some NFL players have been seeking out unproven stem cell therapies to help accelerate recoveries from injuries, according to a paper by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy that was published last month in the 2014 World Stem Cell Report. While most players seem to receive treatment within the United States, several who may be unaware of the risks involved have traveled abroad for therapies unavailable domestically, researchers found.

“With the rise of new and unproven stem cell treatments, the NFL faces a daunting task of trying to better understand and regulate the use of these therapies in order to protect the health of its players,” said Kirstin Matthews, the Baker Institute fellow in science and technology policy and an expert on ethical and policy issues related to biomedical research and development. She co-authored the paper with Maude Rowland Cuchiara, the Baker Institute scholar for science and technology policy.

Each year, more than 700 stem cell clinics around the world open their doors to “stem cell tourists,” according to the authors. Patients travel abroad to seek treatment for ailments — ranging from autism to multiple sclerosis and paralysis — for which no cure exists and treatment options are limited. The use of stem cells as orthopedic therapies in the U.S. is becoming more commonplace and has drawn the attention of elite athletes, most notably NFL players, who have been vocal about receiving stem cell treatments and their successful recoveries. The paper notes that 12 NFL players have been identified publicly as having received unapproved stem cell treatments since 2009.

“The online data on NFL players and the clinics where they obtained treatment suggest that players may be unaware of the risks they are taking,” Matthews said. “Furthermore, players who are official spokespersons for these clinics could influence others to view the therapies as safe and effective despite the lack of scientific research to support these claims.”

The paper notes that while unproven stem cell treatments in U.S.-based clinics rarely have severe side effects, they also arguably have little to no appreciable therapeutic benefits. The paper focuses on treatments unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and undertaken by NFL players in the past five years. The authors highlight the types of treatments obtained and how the clinics advertise specifically to athletes. They also review the intended and unintended consequences of high-profile players receiving and advocating for these types of therapies.

The authors suggest the NFL and other sports leagues should review the procedures for stem cell treatment to determine how best to support, evaluate and possibly regulate stem cell treatments to ensure the safety of players and their followers. “This could be organized similarly to the NFL investigations on the effects of concussions and traumatic brain injuries,” Matthews said.

In addition, the NFL should convene an independent committee of medical professionals, without ties to the NFL or any of its teams, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the therapies, establishing a set of criteria for what is considered “safe” and “effective,” the authors said. This committee would make recommendations to the NFL on unproven stem cell treatments and could also investigate other new and controversial medical interventions.

Finally, the authors said, the NFL should devote funds for research on stem cell therapies and evaluating the safety and success of previous studies. “The NFL research could focus on safety of the treatment and the potential short- and long-term effects of the procedures,” Matthews said. “The research should also assess the claim that the therapies can shorten recovery times after injury and if the procedure should be considered ‘performance-enhancing.’ Once they evaluate these items, the NFL, along with the NFL Players Association, can determine if and how they want to regulate stem treatments. By staying abreast of the development of these therapies, the NFL will protect itself and its players by enabling new and beneficial treatments while curbing illegitimate and unsafe usage.” Read More


January 7, 2015

From the January 1938 issue:

A possible complication

It is only proper to assume that a sprained ankle also weakens the long arch of the foot. If true, it would be wise to tape the arch in such a way that it will be held up in place while the ankle is healing.

A weakened arch may become a permanent injury and bother long after the ankle is repaired.


It won’t be long now until you can buy a balanced meal in one tin can. Meat, vegetables, etc., will be packed in separate compartments of the same can. When heated, the entire balanced meal will be ready to serve your athletes.

You will be able to buy different sized cans. Small ones for the small family and larger ones for the boarding house or training table.


A Story With a Moral

Recently, the president of a small railroad sent passes to the president of every other railroad in the United States. This was customary and the various roads usually reciprocated. However, he received a courteous letter from the Pennsylvania informing him that they did not make a practice of exchanging passes with railroads as small as his. He replied that while he admitted his road was not as long as the Pennsylvania, he insisted that it was just as wide. He got his pass.

The moral is—The small high school and the university have the same problem. The same amount of detail. The same up-hill fight.

Whatever your job is—do it well and you will be deserving of further responsibility.


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January 6, 2015

Do you have a New Year’s resolution to start using kinesiology tape? Or do you already use Kinesiology tape, but want to improve your technique? Regardless of where you fall on the kinesiology tape knowledge/experience spectrum, you’ll want to give latex-free TheraBand™ Kinesiology Tape—tape powered by Cramer’s sports medicine expertise--a try.

The key feature of this tape is the XactStretch™ Technology that ensures you’ll get the right stretch every time. Beginners and experts alike will have the confidence that the tape is being applied correctly by following the XactStretch guide indicators. Whether your goal is to support muscles and joints, or provide pain relief, you’ll get the results you want without wasting a lot of tape in the process!

TheraBand’s Kinesiology tape uses Cramer’s best-in-class adhesion—so you can be sure that the tape will stick, provide durable support, and stay stuck for up to five days. The tape is available in eight color combinations, so there’s something that’s just right for everyone.

And how about saying good-bye to runaway tape rolls? The TheraBand hassle-free tape dispenser latches shut, provides an axle for unrolling and rerolling, and features a cut notch for precut rolls.

TheraBand has conducted extensive research on kinesiology tape, so they know what works. Check out videos and more at TheraBandKTape.com.

Drew Freeman, owner and founder of The Boston Bodyworker and graduate of the University of South Florida Sports Medicine Program says, “The use of TheraBand™ Kinesiology Tape has significantly enhanced our clinical results. With remarkable advancements in the adhesive strength and their revolutionary XactStretch technology, applications last longer and are consistently more effective and efficient. Performance Health has once again, revolutionized pain management with the addition of TheraBand Kinesiology Tape. It’s the next evolution in kinesiology taping.”

Easy dispensing. Can’t miss application. Durability, great colors, and video demonstrations. And it’s all supported by TheraBand’s commitment to the science and research of its products. Isn’t it time to give TheraBand Kinesiology Tape a try? Read More