Gallucci On What Do Coaches Need To Know To Make Informed Decisions On Player Injuries?
SoccerToday announced John Gallucci, Jr., MLS Medical Coordinator is the popular soccer news site’s newest columnist and will be writing a regular column on Injury Prevention and Treatment.
A dynamic expert in injury prevention, rehabilitation, sports medicine and athletic conditioning, Gallucci is the Medical Coordinator for Major League Soccer (MLS), overseeing the medical care of 600 professional soccer players. Gallucci is the former Head Trainer of the New York Red Bulls MLS team and is a Sports Medicine consultant for professional athletes in the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, and USA Wrestling. Gallucci, Jr. is also President, JAG Physical Therapy & JAG Pediatric Therapy.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do coaches need to know to make informed decisions on player injuries?
John Gallucci, Jr.: The easiest way to answer that question is for coaches to truly take first aid and CPR courses before they ever coach a game or practice to understand the simple guidelines of first aid. As a physical therapist and athletic trainer, one of the most important things that I could possibly teach coaches is to really understand that a lot of times they will be by themselves on the field, and ultimately they should know how to care for an acute sprain or strain until that athlete has the opportunity to see a medical professional. It is also very important that coaches do not assume the risk and liability on themselves to clear an athlete. Too many times an athlete will be sent home injured, and then the athlete will come back two days later and basically the coaches will ask them the question, “Are you OK?” If this athlete is under the age of 18 years old, the coach, as soon as they let them take the field, is assuming the liability and risk that this athlete is OK to participate.
Coaches too, should always get a medical clearance from either a certified athletic trainer or physician, that this athlete is OK to progress and train. Too many times have we see athletes that are concussed, they go home, they are removed from the field of play, and ultimately no one has cleared the athlete. Now education guidelines throughout the states, laws throughout the states, and even our Center for Disease Control here in America, have made requirements for Return-to-Play protocols that basically assist the coaches, and remove them from being involved with clearing the athlete. The biggest thing that I can share with coaches is do not assume the risk and liability for any injured athlete. Make sure that the appropriate medical professional is taking care of this athlete, and make sure that you are in communication to make sure this athlete is not returning to the field and can possibly sustain another injury.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the biggest medical issues facing the youth, amateur and professional soccer player?
John Gallucci, Jr.: Some of the biggest medical issues that are facing youth and amateur, as well as professional soccer players are again those overuse injuries and especially in the youth level people really understanding the rules of the game, and making sure that children understand that they need to participate within the rules.
When you see some of the issues out there, the soup du jour of the moment happens to be concussion, based on the highlighted emphasis of the media, but it is important to understand that there are numerous other injuries that a soccer player can sustain including lower extremity, such as ankle, foot, knee, and hip problems, all the way to spine, shoulder, and elbow problems.
It is important for us to understand that when we are looking at an athlete and we are conditioning a soccer player we really need to look at the most common injuries in soccer, which are lower extremity injuries and that’s why I recommend that a tremendous amount of soccer players look into a lower extremity strengthening protocol such as JAG Physical Therapy’s L.E.S.S. Program, which is highlighted in my book, Soccer Injury Prevention and Treatment. A lot of the research for this concept of workout to decrease the incidence of lower extremity injuries was based on a tremendous amount of research articles in decreasing injuries in the lower extremities in soccer players. So it is important that coaches, parents, and players try to decrease their own injuries by truly training the appropriate way.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do enough people use Common Sense in Preventing Soccer Injuries?
John Gallucci, Jr.: When we look at the common sense components of preventing soccer injuries, the biggest issue we have is youth soccer players are continuously sustaining injuries due to overuse problems. Basically, “too much, too soon” in a preseason, repetitive actions with no rest, or no true equal balance of strengthening and conditioning programs. So when we look at the common sense of things we need to understand that there is specific training that needs to be done at all levels, especially when you are looking at children between the ages of 6-12, where there is growth and physical development taking place. We need to truly understand that there needs to be a progression and build of up training, also hydration being an integral part of practice, a flexibility component is very important which ultimately decreases the incidents of muscle strains.
Diane Scavuzzo: What does the medical coordinator for Major League Soccer do? What does it mean to oversee the medical care of more than 600 professional soccer players and protect their careers and teams?
John Gallucci, Jr.: My position as the Medical Coordinator of Major League Soccer is to assist our Medical Director, Dr. Larry in organizing and implementing the policies and procedures of medical care throughout our league in collaboration with the 20 Major League Soccer teams and their medical staffs. This consists of utilizing the medical policies and procedures to provide the best optimal care to take care of over 600 athletes. Within these policies and procedures there are guidelines in reference to different protocols on hydration care, concussion care, physicals, implementations of our workman’s compensation program, first report of injuries, and various other subject matters. As it pertains to what I do in overseeing the medical care, it’s basically to assist the team in making sure the provision of health -care for all of the athletes is done accordingly and within the appropriate credentialing manner of Major League Soccer’s requirements.