Kyra shares her concussion challenges encountered at work, lessons she has learned working with athletes, and advice to others in her role.
Kyra was certified as an Athletic Therapist in 2006. She spent a year as a Head Athletic Therapist with the Waterloo football team, then became the Head Athletic Therapist at George Brown College in 2007. Outside of George Brown College, Kyra is also the medical chair of Karate Canada. As a former Taekwondo athlete and a National team member in Taekwondo, Kyra obtained the experience of competing at the highest level and dealing with several concussion injuries.
Kyra has a great passion for sports. But, at the same time, she loves being part of sideline care as she finds watching and being involved in the full circle of returning an athlete to sports very satisfying.
“[Athletic therapist] is my dream job. I feel super lucky to be able to work in my dream job and to have it in my hand so early in life. “ said Kyra.
In addition, Kyra mentioned that the team experience is unique and will give her a sense of family. Many students return to her after graduation, making this environment continuously rewarding.
Challenges in the Current Sports Environment
It is common for Athletic Therapists to encounter situations where they must stand on the opposite side of athletes for their health and safety. Being on the opposite side can be difficult as no one likes to be a bearer of bad news.
“You can’t be the nice guy. You can’t be the one that’s telling people things they want to hear if you’re going to be an Athletic Therapist. You must do what’s right for that person at that moment all the time and every time,” said Kyra.
Another challenge is that, as a female Athletic Therapist, Kyra sometimes identifies that she must work harder to get the same message across than her male counterparts. However, Kyra is also glad to see that Canada has put in more effort and focus on women’s sports and coaches in recent years.
As a parent with two kids, Kyra finds the hours very challenging, particularly the fact that many sports occur in the evenings or weekends.
“But you know if you love it, you make it work,” Kyra smiled. “We’re all good, and life goes on.”
Having a good work-life balance is the key. Kyra will sometimes take their kids to sports games during the weekend, and it turns out to be a good experience.
Challenges When Providing Support to a Concussed Athlete
Kyra shared an experience where she encountered athletes who were comfortable being honest in front of her but told the coach the opposite thing. Being in between the athlete and the coach eventually created conflict.
“I feel like the solution to it is the education portion,” said Kyra. “We had made a big push on educating concussions to coaches, staff, as well as athletes to make us feel more supported when we were making these difficult calls.”
Having had experience in high-performance sports, Kyra understands that it’s not easy for athletes to face these difficult situations.
“There’s a lot of pressure on athletes as well,” said Kyra. “Athletes want to be part of important games. They are driven by competition and the reward of success. Even though they were honest at the beginning, they might second guess that “oh, maybe I can play through it” and said completely different things to their coaches.”
“However, this can be difficult for us if athletes start to second guess their own health and safety for the reward of the game,” Kyra stated.
Therefore, according to Kyra, it is critical to build a positive relationship between athletes and Athletic Therapists. The ultimate goal is to ensure that athletes always feel supported and safe. Athletes must understand that Athletic Therapists are always coming from their health side and making them feel that clinics are a safe place.
“As Athletic Therapists, we have to stay firm,” said Kyra. “Don’t show that you can be manipulated. Stay firm and make sure everybody knows that concussions are serious injuries, just like every other injury.”
Advice to Athletes Who Just Sustained a Sports Injury
We asked Kyra to provide a piece of advice to athletes who just sustained a sports injury or are in the process of return-to-play recovery.
“Not to rush. It’s really important that they do each step properly and progressively increase their load as they return,” Kyra replied. “If you rush back and skip steps, that’s when you get a setback, and a setback actually prolongs you getting back.”
“I also want to make sure that they were confident, too,” Kyra added. “From my own experience, the hardest part is to get your confidence back [after injuries]. If you haven’t had a concussion, it’s hard to tell how it feels. Not feeling like yourself is the worst feeling in the world. So let’s take our time. Do it properly. Progress properly. And make sure that when we come back, we stay back.”
First impression of HEADCHECK
Kyra started using HEADCHECK in 2018. However, since George Brown College is right downtown in the city, they don’t have their own fields and are required to rent outside. In this case, it’s tough to conduct paper SCAT tests on-site when the weather is bad.
“I love how we can just skip the paper,” Kyra answered. “The fact that this portable system solved all of my problems of us located in downtown where we don’t have our own fields.”
Imagine doing a paper assessment on the field; your paper can fly away, get wet, or fall apart. That’s when a digital solution comes into place. The value of HEADCHECK is that you can achieve organized, efficient, and flexible concussion management no matter where you are and what you do.
How HEADCHECK Supports Kyra in Her Role
Kyra mentioned several concerns they had in the past when managing concussions. If they did have sports happening offsite, it could be a day or two before she founds out something had happened until she got that message from her student therapists.
“I get a real-time notification from HEADCHECK if there’s a suspected concussion,” said Kyra. “I know before I even come into the office or right away, so I can make sure that no one is missed.”
As a Head Athletic Therapist managing a variety of sports, the real-time notifications allow Kyra to receive the important information right away. Virtual symptom check-ins also solve the problem of having a concussed student come in physically for evaluation so that they can rest and recover at home.
“Being able to have [students] do it remotely has been great,” Kyra answered. “We can easily use virtual meetings along with HEADCHECK and make sure that we start the concussion management right from the beginning instead of waiting.”
Kyra is a valued customer at HEADCHECK. We thank her for her continued support, hard work, and valuable insights she has shared with us. Here are a few words Taffita Chadsey, a Customer Success Team member, has to say about Kyra.
“It has been a pleasure working with Kyra these past few years, and she has made my job overseeing her account very easy. She and her staff always ensure that injuries are properly documented and that athletes are returning to sport safely. You can tell George Brown has a great group of medical professionals who truly care about their athletes.”
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