Despite the cancellation of sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, St. Thomas University (STU) Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine, James Tuffy has revamped his methods of physical therapy and rehab for student-athletes, going virtual himself.
STU’s campus closed to prevent the spreading of the virus, closed on Friday, March 20, as the University as a whole went to virtual learning experiences; sending student-athletes home, for their safety, while still needing their treatment needs.
St. Thomas University Athletics Director, Laura Courtley-Todd, has always pushed the staff with STU Athletics to be innovative and groundbreaking in their methods, said, “one of my prides in Bobcat Athletics is how our coaches and staff finds a way to think outside of the box. I applaud Jim for his ingenuity and keeping our student-athletes engaged and healthy.”
Tuffy set out with the goal of progressing the athletes through their rehab, with the same personalized care and attention-to-detail that the student-athletes are accustom to at STU. At the time of the shutdown, 31 student-athletes were working with the athletic training staff through their rehab.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to further assist the student-athletes, during this uncertain time. Courtley-Todd and President Armstrong gave me the chance to pioneer treatment through technology, regardless of distance, to provide care,” said Tuffy.
The majority of the therapy sessions have been via FaceTime or Zoom, which has maintained the one-on-one experience for the student-athlete. Similar to the challenges of online learning, athletic training has had its problems; however, Tuffy has maintained a positive and creative way to service student-athletes. Through the use of FaceTime and Zoom, student-athletes have been instructed through their rehab, needing to be creative with their methods.
Tuffy, spoke on the creative methods used to assist in rehab, saying, “The limitation we have dealt with is that student-athletes do not have access to weight equipment.” Tuffy stated, “to overcome this; we have been instructing our rehabbing student-athletes to use household items, creatively. We’ve had them use jugs filled with water, baseball bats and anything else from around their house for rehab.”
The feedback from the student-athletes has been overwhelmingly positive throughout the process. Manuela Martinez, a STU Volleyball player, is dealing with an injury and said, “I’m so happy that STU is doing this. I thought I was going to have to do rehab alone, but the treatment has been above-and-beyond my expectations, and I’m incredibly grateful for everything that Jim has done.”
The use of applications such as FaceTime and Zooms has allowed Tuffy to watch the student-athletes do their prescribed rehab exercises while paying attention to their range of motion and if the student-athletes are experiencing any limitations. Tuffy added, “we feel as if we can provide the student-athletes with a sense of reassurance, by seeing what they are describing and how to diagnose their injuries.”
For updates on how St. Thomas University is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here https://www.stu.edu/coronavirus/