Considering Sway for a Different Type of Balance
As a manager overseeing a team of athletic trainers, ensuring her employees have a good work-life balance is important to Sheena Abbott, Manager of Athletic Training at Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center in the West Burlington, Iowa area. Currently, Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center provides athletic training services for eight high schools, one community college, and a NAIA University. One area Abbott felt her athletic trainers were spending a lot of their time on was completing pre-season baseline testing throughout the year. “I was trying to figure out how you still give the same great care you want to provide but decrease the time and hours spent doing baseline testing,” said Abbott. “How do we accomplish that but still get accurate data?” Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center felt strongly about this as well and wanted to sponsor baseline testing for each of its sites.
Another challenge was retesting individual modules on post-tests without having to repeat the entire test. Abbott explained, "So, you want to make a patient retest just one module. Do you go back and do the whole thing? What’s your procedure when you run into one of those?"
This problem was a significant one, as retesting specific modules of a concussion test is necessary for ensuring that the results are accurate. Sheena and her team needed a solution that would allow them to retest individual modules without having to repeat the entire test.
A Time-Saving Solution
Abbott was introduced to Sway by another athletic trainer who had implemented Sway at a specialty neuro-optometry clinic providing vision and vestibular rehabilitation. “I really appreciated that Sway is not just looking at balance but is now encompassing everything I want to have a baseline for because my athletic trainers no longer have to do multiple assessments. It’s all in one system.” This was vital for Abbott because of the time that the assessments were taking for her staff to complete. Sway's modular approach to testing was precisely what Abbott and her team were looking for. They could now retest specific modules of the concussion test without having to repeat the entire test, saving time and resources in the process.
Hitting the Ground Running
Abbott and her staff wasted no time implementing Sway into their pre-season baseline testing and pre-season physical process. “Before camp started, with our high schools and colleges, we did probably close to four or five hundred baseline tests,” said Abbott. “We had smaller teams completing their baseline tests together in a conference room or gym, and then broke up our larger teams into different rooms with multiple athletic trainers working together.” The plan to save time worked. “We were able to baseline test multiple teams in a span of just a few hours.”
Before Sway, Abbott and her team would manually enter pre-season physical and insurance information into a computer and then complete several different rounds of baseline testing to gather all of the data they wanted to have. Today, athletes are rotated through stations, with Sway baseline testing being one of those stations. “We got a group of eighty athletes through pre-season physicals and baseline testing in a span of about two hours. Groups of twenty used to take four hours before. It’s a night and day difference.”
As Abbott and the Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center team continue to implement Sway, there have been unexpected benefits that weren’t expected. “We frequently provide services to local youth soccer leagues, with many fields going at the same time. I love being able to grab my phone and do a quick sideline evaluation. The parents really appreciate being able to see the data as well, and for our younger athletes, it has been much easier for them to understand and complete correctly. These kids understand technology.”
Another benefit has been the ability to track athletes on the go. Because of the number of athletes the Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center staff sees on a weekly basis, the athletic trainers have benefited from being able to track athlete progress and manage return-to-play offsite. “I was sitting at a soccer tournament and was able to check on the Sway app to see how another athlete was doing. She was entering her symptoms into the app for me, and I was able to pop in there and see if her symptoms had started to subside.”
Abbott is excited to continue to use Sway and watch how it benefits not only her staff but the patients they see on a regular basis. “I talk to other athletic trainers in our area, and we like to bounce ideas off each other. I’ve shown them our Sway reports, and everyone has been very excited about what they see. Even parents are intrigued by Sway and love to see accurate data and new technology being used. It’s amazing to see our phones being used for good.”