August 23, 2013

SLU AT Student's Summer Perfecting the Athlete: Integration of Performance, Athletic Training, Nutrition and Mindset.

Athletes’ Performance-Phoenix Summer Internship
By: Cat Costello (MAT Class of 2014)

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to be the athletic training intern at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix, AZ.  World-renowned pioneer in human performance, Mark Verstegen, founded athletes’ Performance, who also happened to work out of the AZ facility! It is one of the leaders in integrated performance training, nutrition, and physical therapy, for elite and professional athletes. AP serves as a refuge for various athletes from high school students to Olympic track athletes, professionals and even astronauts.

SLU AT student Cat Costello with Ashley Rice ATC
Throughout my 12 weeks, I worked under the guidance of Ashley Rice, MS ATC, as well as a physical therapist and soft tissue specialist within the performance physical therapy department. Ashley, an Indiana native, completed her undergrad at Franklin College and continued on to her receive her Masters from AT Still University in Arizona. While working toward her masters she helped part time at AP until a full-time position opened when she finished school.

My responsibilities ranged from attaining and communicating the heat index throughout the day, (this is a vital task when the temperature can reach 115 degrees at times)! I also worked on evaluating and treating acute injuries and heat illnesses, managing department paperwork, aiding with intern tasks in other departments, helped with a new movement screen innovation, and even treating my own patients!
One of the most valuable lessons that I learned this summer was how to work with various health professionals with the common goal of providing the athlete with the best care possible. I partnered with the nutrition team, performance coaches, culinary staff, and mindset team members to ensure that each athlete had their individual needs met.  Each branch the facility opened up into the large training room floor to emphasize the need to integrate the professions and keep communication lines open. There are both formal and informal discussions that go on between various staff members regarding athletes and patients to ensure that the correspondence was kept up.     

I gained a great amount of hands on experience and was able to practice on any other intern or staff member that was willing to be worked on…which were many! The performance physical therapy department at Athletes’ Performance places great emphasis on movement impairment syndromes as potential sources of injury. Therefore, they seek to examine the entire body and how it moves in each patient in order to address any and all impairments. I was able to gain a “bigger picture” perspective on both injuries and movement quality which will greatly improve my patient outcomes in the future. 
The number of amazing athletes and the determination that come through AP’s door daily truly made me want to give the best I have to each patient. The company as a whole creates an environment that is bubbling with energy and develops world-class athletes. I cannot thank the entire staff at Athletes’ Performance enough for the amazing opportunity to learn and grow from them as a student. I had a life-changing summer at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix, and cannot wait to put what I have learned into action.  

Students in the Saint Louis University Athletic Training Program have a required internship in the summer between their two professional years in the program.  This blog post details a student's reflection on their internship experience.

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