Innovative approach speeds recovery, minimizes downtime
CONCORD TOWNSHIP, Ohio, July 18, 2012 - When professional athletes get hurt, athletic trainers initiate aggressive therapies to accelerate recovery and minimize time on the bench. Now, Lake Health is applying the same sports medicine methodology to the evaluation and treatment of injured workers to help them return to the workplace more quickly, with minimal days lost due to injury.
"By providing injured workers with the same high level of medical care and rehabilitation typically available only to professional athletes, we can help promote more rapid healing and expedite a return to functional work status," explained John Smith, a certified athletic trainer and the director of Sports Medicine at Lake Health.
Restoring injured employees' health and productivity is not only the right thing to do, it also has financial advantages. Timely return to work benefits employers by reducing the effects of lost productivity and wages and workers' compensation costs.
At the Lake Health Sports Medicine Bureau of Worker's Compensation Therapy Clinic located inside the Tyler Boulevard Urgent Care Center in Mentor, Smith leads the team of certified athletic trainers (ATCs) who collaborate with physicians to evaluate and treat fractures, sprains and strains resulting from accidents, repetitive motion and overuse. With expertise in anatomy and physiology, the team takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation-focusing on progressive treatments, ergonomics and strength and conditioning practices that enable injured workers to return to activity sooner with less risk of re-injury.
"Using ATCs as the catalyst and gatekeeper for injured worker rehabilitation further elevates the quality of care we provide to our patients and results in superior outcomes," explained Brian Juriga, D.O., co-medical director of Sports Medicine at Lake Health.
For Concord firefighter Luigi Ianiro, Lake Health's innovative approach was crucial to his recovery from a debilitating ankle injury that occurred last June while exiting a house fire. The misstep left him with a fracture and a severe sprain requiring six months of rigorous rehabilitation. A veteran firefighter, this was Ianiro's first serious accident. And being away from his job and the outdoor activities he loved took an emotional toll.
The Ohio Athletic Trainers' Association recently named Lake Health Certified Athletic Trainer Debra Walko as Ohio Athletic Trainer of the Year. Ms. Walko is one of two athletic trainers to receive this year's award in the clinical/professional division. Award recipients are nominated by their peers and then chosen by the Ohio Athletic Trainers' Association, the governing body for all athletic trainers in the state of Ohio.
Ms. Walko was recognized for her vital contributions to the Lake Health Athletic Training Bureau of Worker's Compensation (BWC) Therapy Clinic at the Tyler Blvd. Urgent Care Center in Mentor. The Athletic Training BWC Therapy Clinic is unique in the state of Ohio and shows innovation in the utilization of athletic trainers in workers' compensation rehabilitation. Ms. Walko and fellow Lake Health athletic trainers apply the principles of sports medicine to the evaluation and treatment of injured workers to help these "industrial" athletes return to work as quickly as possible.
Ms. Walko received her bachelor of science degree in Education from the University of Akron and has been a certified athletic trainer for 19 years. Prior to joining Lake Health in 2007 as Kirtland High School's athletic trainer, she was head athletic trainer for Hawken Upper School in Gates Mills, OH. Ms. Walko is a member of the National Athletic Trainers' Association, the Ohio Athletic Trainers' Association and the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers' Association.
Ms. Walko will be honored at the Ohio Athletic Trainers' Association annual meeting in May in Akron, OH.