Monday Medical: SportsMed wraps up season as official U.S. Ski Teams’ medical provider |

Monday Medical: SportsMed wraps up season as official U.S. Ski Teams’ medical provider

— From the top of the 2015 National US Freestyle Championships moguls course at Steamboat Ski Area, Yampa Valley Medical Center SportsMed physical therapist, Jennifer Kerr, doesn’t have the best view.

As the athletes descend down the steep Voo Doo run, Kerr, who is also on staff for the Freestyle National Team, is not able to see beyond the first jump and isn’t able to tell if an athlete sticks their landing.

With each jump, Kerr does her best to try and gauge the takeoff, often grimacing in a brief moment of concern, when an athlete has an awkward jump or gets less air than expected. She strains her head, moving from side to side along the top gate, looking for some glimpse of the athlete further down the course. She listens intently to her radio for the signal that the course is clear or word that she may be needed in the case of an injury.

In most cases, the elite athletes shred the challenging course and recover from sloppy landings, but Kerr knows that any moguls course, especially in difficult, late season conditions, can cause issues, and the health and wellbeing of the athletes is always on her mind.

“At this time of year, with hard, icy conditions in the morning, you see more fractures when there are falls,” Kerr said. “Moguls athletes also experience back issues as skiing over bumps causes a lot of compression in the spine.”

Still, knee injuries remain supreme in the sport and are notoriously associated with moguls skiing and slushy, mid-day conditions.

“Knees are by and large the most specific-to-moguls issue, with ACL tears being the most frequent serious injury,” Kerr said.

While keeping a vigilant eye out for sudden, on-hill injuries keeps Kerr on her toes, this part of her day can actually be considered down time. Her afternoon will consist of treating athletes until dinner, followed by more appointments, often until 10 or 11 p.m.

“We are treating athletes at their hotels, doing everything from diagnosing injuries to massaging muscles,” Kerr said. “In some cases it’s ongoing problems or a new issue from the day’s runs. We review notes from their physical therapists at previous events or what their resident therapist has been doing to put together treatment plans.”

Kerr, who travels with the team a couple of times a year, has already been to Calgary for a World Cup event and spent three weeks in Finland with the team last year.

“I typically do one to two events a year, and I’ve been doing it for nine years,” Kerr said. “It’s exciting to work an event in Steamboat where we’ve seen a number of the athletes come through our clinic and are part of the Winter Sports Club.”

While this past weekend’s championships wrap up the competitive ski season for most athletes, Kerr and the rest of the physical therapists will continue to see patients with ski injuries in the coming weeks.

End-of-season and spring conditions mean more tears and fractures just as many skiers are looking forward to hitting the running and biking trails. A late season injury can often take a big bite of time out of summer activities.

The SportsMed therapy team is excited to get patients back to their favorite recreational activities using a new tool in their Steamboat location.

The Alter G Anti-Gravity treadmill allows patients to rehabilitate injuries by reducing gravity’s impact to a percentage of their body weight. Patients, for example, can walk on an injured ankle while experiencing as low as 1/5 of their total body weight. As a result, the body and joints receives less stress and patients experience less pain while pushing their recoveries further and faster.

With 14 days left in the season, be mindful of spring conditions, and enjoy it. Be sure to visit your physical therapist if the ice or slush gets the best of you and get back to doing what you love.

Nick Esares is a marketing and communications specialist with Yampa Valley Medical Center.

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