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Taylor University | Athletic Trainer Spotlight with KC Hackman

KC Hackman, Head Athletic Trainer at Taylor University, shares how using Marc Pro has helped free up time for his staff so they can treat more athletes at once.

KC Hackman is in his 19th year with the Taylor University Athletic Training Department, with the 2018-2019 year marking his 14th year as Head Athletic Trainer for the Trojans. Hackman also oversees the budget and insurance policies for the Athletic Training Department at Taylor.

What initially attracted you to athletic training?

I have always been an athlete. But in high school, I injured my back and could not do contact sports any longer.

I heard about athletic training and decided to go to an athletic training summer camp at the University of Kentucky. As a junior in high school, this was my intro to athletic training. We learned the nuts and bolts of the profession, like taping, basic anatomy, and the RICE method. I decided to major in athletic training in college and the rest is history.

How many student-athletes are at Taylor University?

Approximately 500 student-athletes.

What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?

My philosophy has changed over the years. When I first graduated, it was all about ice and compression. You would keep ice on for 20 minutes, and then take it off for an hour. The thought was, keep the area cold and keep the inflammation down.

Throughout the years, I have learned and researched more about icing and beyond. I started thinking more about if the body is causing inflammation, then maybe it is trying to heal itself.  Now, I focus on more soft tissue work, massage, Graston, cupping, and other recovery methods.

What sports do you typically work with?

I work with Men’s Basketball, Baseball, Men’s and Women’s Golf, and Men’s and Women’s Tennis.

Do you typically see similar injuries across all of the sports you work with?

With basketball, we see a lot of knee issues and ankle sprains. In tennis and baseball, we encounter shoulder and elbow injuries. And in golf, there are typically injuries with the lower back.

What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?

There has been a major shift with the discussion of icing. More questions are being asked about when is it beneficial to do the cold whirlpool? When is it beneficial to heat?

It used to be that you would ice and use electrical stim for pain control. Now, we are going beyond just treating the injury.  We actually go into the recovery aspect of training.

The thinking is, “How do I help my pitcher recover quicker today so that he can be better recovered for a game that is in 3 days?” We are not just thinking about what we do when an athlete gets hurt.

Do you use ice for recovery?

I only use ice as a pain control. I rarely use it. For example, if a player gets hit by a baseball on the field, I use it to help with the immediate pain.

How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?

I went to the PBATS conference in January of 2017.  I met Gary at that conference in passing. Throughout the trip, I heard about all of the different technologies and modalities for athletes, everything from sleep chambers to recovery tanks. All of these things were ridiculously expensive and not practical for my facilities. I had a small budget with my NAIA school and I heard mention of the Marc Pro.

When I returned back from the conference, I continued to do research about the Marc Pro. During the season, one of my best pitchers got injured and nothing was working.

I ordered a Marc Pro to see if it would help him get back to play.  While the senior didn’t have the best year, he wouldn’t have played at all if we hadn’t found the Marc Pro. And, in he had his best start of the year during his last start of the season.

How many Marc Pro units do you have at the university?

We have 3 units now. My staff keeps saying that they need more units because we are always using them. We can use the Marc Pro for so many things—from acute muscle strains, to swelling, to recovery.

What is the protocol for using a Marc Pro in your training room?

The majority of treatments with the Marc Pro are done in the training room. The athletic trainer can then place the electrodes in the right spots for each individual athlete.

How has the Marc Pro helped your athletic training staff?

Using this device gives us more time to do other things and address more athletes. We are then not all tied up and are able to work with multiple athletes at the same time.

What is the most difficult aspect about being an athletic trainer?

Time. We work weird, random hours. There is no off season.  The fall is always the busiest for us because all 500 student-athletes are all participating at the same time, either off or on-season. But while the hours can be crazy,  I get paid to watch sports. It is amazing.

How are you invested in the student-athletes?

We are a resource. We are a confidante. We can be a sounding board. If an athlete is injured, you have to help an athlete recover emotionally and mentally too.

Athletes are the most vulnerable when they are injured and they are counting on you to protect them. You have to hold them out of games and practices when they might not want to. They might get mad at you, but it is your job to navigate the risks and put their health and wellness first.

And sometimes, you have to deal with the complete opposite side of the spectrum where you have to tell an athlete 3 words—”Suck it up.”

What advice do athletes hesitate to listen to?

Athletes do not want to hear that they are injured and having to sit out. Or, even worse, hearing that their season is probably over.  Telling an athlete that their season is over has to be one of the hardest part of the job. You know how much the athletes have invested in the sport and their teammates, and how much that can hurt to hear even if it is the best decision.

What modalities do you use in the training room?

I am not a big modality guy. We have access to ultrasound, stim, and other devices. There is a new trend with the foam rolling and rolling out on lacrosse balls. We teach athletes how to use these tools properly and effectively.

What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?

It helps me feel young. You get to learn from them and they learn from you.

But one of the best parts of the job is seeing athletes be successful.  When you have an athlete who has been injured and then you get to see them return to the sport, it is the most rewarding thing.  As an athletic trainer, you don’t do this job for the accolades and praise. You do it to see the smile of an athlete doing what they love.

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