Contact Us

Thank you for visiting our website. If you'd like a demo of Healthy Roster, please fill out the form below and we'll follow up with you as quickly as possible!

Name *
Name

20 North Street
Dublin, OH, 43017
United States

Healthy Roster provides patient engagement, care coordination, telemedicine and outreach tools for Sports Medicine, Orthopedics and other medical specialties. We enable patients to communicate with providers, reducing communication gaps, phone tag, and readmissions. Use with Home Health & SNF’s to manage CJR and Cardiac bundled payments.

Blog

Sports Medicine Outreach and Engagement Platform

 

Filtering by Category: College Athletes

What Athletic Trainers Should Know About Esports

Healthy Roster

action-blur-close-up-735911.jpg

Game On(line)

What Athletic Trainers Should Know About Esports

Athletic trainers are accustomed to seeing the same groups of athletes coming through their facilities every season: football players in the fall, wrestlers in the winter, softball players in the spring. There’s a rhythm to this cycle, each sport arriving with its own set of injuries and ailments to contend with. But now, a new sport is shaking up that rhythm, and its equipment consists of a console, a controller and a computer.

That’s right, esports is the latest competitive activity taking the world by storm. Though the stereotypical image of a hardcore gamer is someone holed up in a dark room and sitting stagnant in front of a screen all day, don’t be mistaken — these are called e-sports for a reason. And as with any other sport, esports requires ATs and other medical professionals to work with the athletes to ensure they’re staying on top of their physical and mental health. With esports rising in popularity and with more and more schools adding varsity esports programs, it’s important for ATs to understand the sport and the risks these athletes face.

What is esports?

Esports, as a whole, describes the world of competitive, organized video games. The games themselves vary, with teams competing in leagues dedicated to titles such as “League of Legends,” “Overwatch,” “Hearthstone,” “Fortnite,” and “CS:GO.” Though some leagues host live events and some competitions are even broadcast on television, the majority of esports fans tune in via streaming services such as Twitch. This is where most of the sport’s following has grown — and quite the following it is.

Esports Competition

Esports Competition

According to research firm Newzoo, the international esports audience will reach 453.8 million this year, generating revenues of $1.1 billion. With that much money at stake, a growing number of esports teams are now fully or partially owned by traditional sports team owners such as Robert Kraft and Stan Kroenke. Those sorts of investors are able to provide esports programs with the same level of medical staff as other professional athletes.

But the popularity extends beyond the professional realm as well. Varsity scholarships have been available to college esports athletes since 2014, and today, the National Association of Collegiate Esports consists of more than 135 member schools and over 3,000 student athletes. There is even discussion about making esports an Olympic event. Much more than just “gaming,” esports is a legitimate sport that requires intense levels of training and conditioning. Without the assistance of athletic trainers, esports athletes can succumb to myriad injuries, both physical and mental.

Common Physical Injuries

When you watch esports, you might not consider it a very physical activity. It involves a lot of sitting, clicking a controller, and staring at a bright screen. But these repeated motions actually put esports athletes at risk for very particular injuries, the most common of which is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, caused by intense repetitive movements of the fingers. Young gamers that notice their hands beginning to tingle or go numb tend to ignore it, thinking that it will heal on its own. But with time, use of their hand can grow more difficult, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can actually end their careers. Education and preventative care are essential to catching injuries like this before they affect one’s future.

Other common areas of concern are the elbows, knees, feet, and neck, all of which are subject to repetitive motion or stress injuries, or even tendinitis. Additionally, medical professionals should work with esports athletes to monitor their eye health, as prolonged periods of staring at a screen can cause significant fatigue and strain, and can even affect their hand-eye coordination — an essential element in their athletic repertoire.

Common Mental Concerns

When working with any athlete, it’s important to focus on both their body and their mind. This is especially true with esports athletes, as their intense training regimen (12-16 hours of gaming a day) tends to keep them inside. In addition to the burnout that can be caused by looking at a screen for that long, their schedule often forces them to give up time with friends and family, and unlike other sports, they don’t enjoy a built-in off-season. Job security is also a concern, as the competitive nature of the burgeoning sport means there is always someone gunning for a player’s job, ready to take it if they don’t succeed. Taking all of this into consideration, it’s no surprise that mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are pervasive throughout the community.

Another item of concern is drug abuse. In the past, esports athletes have admitted to using Adderall during a competition to enhance their performance, as the ADHD medication can help them stay energized and focused. Though there is little evidence that Adderall actually gives players an extra advantage, abusing any prescription medication is dangerous, especially an amphetamine like Adderall that, in addition to increasing one’s heart rate and blood pressure, can be incredibly addictive.

One thing we have tried to do is create a support network for them to become more healthy overall, just like any other athlete. The esports team has voluntary team lifting with our Strength & Conditioning coaches, as well as the option to receive individual nutrition counseling…Every so often we have small groups talks on topics such as posture, hand/forearm injury prevention, and physical activity.
— David Jameyson, MS, AT, ATC (Ashland University)

Healthy Habits

So what should the relationship between an esports athlete and an athletic trainer look like? In addition to providing prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation for the conditions listed above, ATs — along with coaches and other medical professionals — should work with esports athletes to establish proper nutrition and general fitness routines.

We talked to David Jameyson, MS, AT, ATC, at Ashland University (which houses one of the country’s top esports programs and uses Healthy Roster for injury documentation and communication) about his experiences providing athletic training services to esports athletes:

Ashland University Esports

Ashland University Esports

“One thing we have tried to do is create a support network for them to become more healthy overall, just like any other athlete,” Jameyson said. “The esports team has voluntary team lifting with our Strength & Conditioning coaches, as well as the option to receive individual nutrition counseling…Every so often we have small groups talks on topics such as posture, hand/forearm injury prevention, and physical activity.”

Gaming itself is not physically exhausting, but because of their intense commitment to training, many esports athletes neglect to eat healthily, develop a regular sleep cycle, or get enough physical exercise. This sedentary lifestyle that esports has a tendency to breed can lead to mental burnout. Even more seriously, at least six high-profile esports players have suffered spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung), though there has been no direct indication of causation.

Keep in mind that esports is still young, as is the knowledge of how to treat these athletes. New advancements are being made every day. For instance, in 2017, a 2,000-square-foot esports training center opened in Thousand Oaks, California, with state-of-the-art technology designed specifically to perfect gamers’ physical and cognitive skills. And Dr. Levi Harrison, a Los Angeles-based orthopedic surgeon has established the country’s first esports-focused practice, helping to develop specific exercises and ergonomic hand positions for athletes based on what sort of controller they use. There is a lot of ground to cover, so as with any field, it’s important for ATs to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements, continuing their education so they can provide the best possible care.

Staying Awake: Addressing Sleep Deprivation in College Athletes

Healthy Roster

adult-alarm-alarm-clock-1028741.jpg

Staying Awake

Addressing Sleep Deprivation in College Athletes

It’s no grand secret that college students aren’t getting enough sleep. For many, it’s practically a point of pride. Walk on to any college campus and you’ll probably hear students boasting about how they stayed up all night studying for their midterm exam, or how they only made it to class because they chugged half a pot of coffee after going to a party on a Tuesday night. College is a calendar-filler, and when you’re constantly trying to balance your 16 credit hours with your clubs, social life, homework, and finding an internship, sleep has a way of falling by the wayside.

...On average, NCAA student-athletes report four nights of insufficient sleep per week (the average American adult reports two) and that one-third of student-athletes get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night (compared to the recommended 7-9 hours for young adults).

And of course, when you add on top of all of that the packed itinerary of being a college athlete, the problem only gets exacerbated. Considering the intense practice schedule, travel for competitions, and desire to spend time with their teammates, it’s no wonder that, on average, NCAA student-athletes report four nights of insufficient sleep per week (the average American adult reports two) and that one-third of student-athletes get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night (compared to the recommended 7-9 hours for young adults).

Some athletes might view this as something to strive for, operating under the assumption that a sleepless lifestyle is what you have to push yourself to in order to be successful. But, in fact, the opposite is true — given the physical, emotional, and cognitive consequences of sleep deprivation, it’s essential that athletes get enough sleep if they want to perform their best. Student athletes and athletic trainers should make it a priority to monitor and improve their sleeping patterns in order to enhance their performance.

Physical Consequences

A possible underlying assumption to the idea that you can “push through” sleep deprivation is the thought that it’s all in your head. Your brain just feels tired, so as long as you’re strong enough mentally, you can grin and bear it — right? Wrong. Failing to get enough sleep on a regular basis can also affect your body physically. For instance, the healing that occurs when we’re asleep is essential to muscle growth, as our bodies work to repair the damage inflicted during practice or games and recharge for the next day. Poor sleep patterns or shorter sleep durations can also lead to weight gain. So if you’re neglecting to get your eight hours in every night, don’t be surprised if you’re struggling a bit the next time you hit the weight room.

Emotional Consequences

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lack of sleep affects our emotions in a negative manner. After all, if we asked you to close your eyes and picture someone who’s sleep-deprived, we’re guessing you wouldn’t be imagining someone with bright eyes and a big smile across their face. And for student-athletes in particular, a positive mood is key to a healthier and happier lifestyle. Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability and problems with relationships, as well as serious mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Any of these conditions alone could lead to a decreased performance on the field or in the classroom — all of them combined could be catastrophic.  

Perhaps most importantly, sleep provides us with the energy, focus, and lowered blood pressure we need to deal with stress — and with the pressure to maintain their GPA while succeeding in their sport, student-athletes are rarely strangers to stress. That sort of worrying is often the kind of motivator that can push student-athletes into making unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as craving junk food or over-consuming alcohol. So while your stress about the exam tomorrow or the big game this weekend might be the very thing encouraging you to stay up late, consider instead the alternative benefits of a good night’s rest.

Cognitive Consequences

When we’re asleep, our mind sorts through, evaluates, and integrates all of the information we took in during the day, meaning that a lack of sleep can actually result in a loss of memory. Additionally, sleep loss impairs our decision-making skills, our ability to focus and think clearly, and our reaction time. Obviously this can all result in negative consequences on both sides of the student-athlete coin. An individual who can’t focus or react quickly will perform just as poorly on their calculus test as they will at their lacrosse game.

But the cognitive implications of sleep deprivation extend into our everyday lives as well. Staying awake for 22 hours straight has the same effect on your reaction time as consuming four alcoholic drinks. So getting behind the wheel while sleep-deprived can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. In fact, drowsy driving is responsible for thousands of car crashes every year, many of them fatal. Considering all they have to lose, student athletes should be proactive about getting enough sleep to keep themselves and their teammates safe.

Greater Risk of Injury

In addition to the increased risk that accompanies any sort of cognitive impairment (see above), sleep deprivation can put an athlete at a greater risk for injury in general. While recommending a later school start time for middle and high school students, Dr. Jim MacDonald from The Ohio State University, cited studies that found that sleep deprivation is linked to both overuse and fatigue injuries. Dr. Brian Hainline of the NCAA pointed to a study that showed that “if an athlete is progressively sleep deprived over a period of 12 weeks, their neuromuscular performance will continue to diminish, even when the athlete believes that, after three days, they are back to normal.” If nothing else, this increased chance of injury should be enough to motivate athletes to seek a better sleep schedule.

Getting More Sleep

Okay, you might be thinking, but what can we really do? Given the difficult demands of a student-athlete’s schedule, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s simply no way around the lack of sleep. And while the occasional late-night study session won’t kill you, you should make an effort to establish an adequate and habitual sleep schedule — and there are plenty of small steps you can take to do so.

One important action is to reduce your amount of screen time before bed. Because this generation of student athletes grew up in the digital era, they’re more prone to ending the day by looking at their phone or TV or computer. In fact, a National Sleep Foundation poll found that teenagers engage in an average of four electronic activities after 9 p.m. While this can be a nice way to unwind after a stressful day or to get some extra work done on assignment before calling it a night, this late-night use of multiple devices has been associated with less nocturnal sleep and more daytime drowsiness. Additionally, studies have suggested that the light emitted from our screens can suppress melatonin levels and disturb the circadian rhythms that regulate our internal sleep schedules.

Another thing to decrease is — gasp! — caffeine consumption. We know — sometimes that extra cup of cold brew is the only thing getting you through your 1:15 Bio lecture. But in addition to having adverse effects on an athlete’s mood and heart health, caffeine can disrupt our sleep patterns. And while it may seem impossible to cut back, keep in mind that caffeine contributes to an unhealthy cycle of drowsiness and sleep deprivation. In other words, if you manage to decrease the amount of caffeine you drink, you’ll be able to sleep more, and with that improved rest, you’ll crave less caffeine!

The NCAA also recommends that athletic departments get involved in maintaining its athletes’ sleep health. By initiating comprehensive sleep disorder screenings and monitoring and assessing athletes’ sleep behaviors, athletic trainers can help athletes better plan their schedules, as well as detect harmful sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

Overall, the most efficient way to a healthier sleep pattern is simply establishing a regular schedule. No matter how much work you have, try to set regular lights-out and wake-up times. And lights-out means lights-out — maybe leave your phone across the room so you’re not tempted to check it while falling asleep. If you’re anxious about your demanding schedule, just remind yourself that the time you “lose” by not pulling an all-nighter will be more than made up for by the mood, health, and well-being you’ll gain from your good night’s sleep.