The North Oaks Sports Medicine team used the downtime caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic to re-evaluate and redesign service delivery to schools under the tutelage of Drs. Katy Morris and Jeffery Witty, board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists.
The program was already staffed by nationally certified collegiate, high school and junior high athletic trainers, as well as sports-focused physical therapists and nutritionists. New additions are Clinical Supervisor Rebecca Troulliet, who is a board-certified physical therapy sports clinical specialist, and Sports Performance Specialist Taylor Dunn.
North Oaks Sports Medicine’s specialists use science-driven exercise and nutrition programs to enhance athletic performance and prevent injuries and are able to deploy advanced technology for diagnostic imaging, concussion management, orthopaedics, emergency and trauma care, as well as surgical and rehabilitative services when injuries occur.
The program retired its annual Physical Day model, used for past 29 years, in favor individual screening events at each school, Troulliet said.
“The end result is a more personalized level of care for our student-athletes,” she said. “With the health and safety of more than 1,000 student-athletes being our No. 1 priority, we knew our traditional one-day screening model would not work in the midst of the pandemic. So, for the first time in our history, we performed physicals for each partner school’s student-athletes on their home turf. All necessary precautions and distancing measures were taken to create a safe environment for them.”
North Oaks provides student-athletes with free annual physicals to meet requirements of Louisiana High School Athletic Association and enacted a plan to visit schools within a two-week period to ensure new physicals would be completed and on file before LHSAA’s Oct. 1 extension of 2019-2020 physicals lapsed.
A team of 15 to 20 health care professionals traveled to each partner school to perform the physicals, including orthopaedic and primary care providers, nationally certified athletic trainers, physical therapists and other medical specialists. Up to 50 physicals per hour can be completed utilizing this model, Troulliet said.
At other schools, gyms, cafeterias, classrooms and even hallways were converted into the socially distanced waiting areas and private examination rooms needed to perform all components of the physicals, including blood pressure, pulse, heart, lung, height, weight and vision checks.
Some student-athletes also are put through the paces of an orthopaedic screening to check range of motion and strength from head to toe and assess any injuries since the student-athlete’s last physical. Such was the case at Ponchatoula High School, where North Oaks Primary Care Physician Gayle Beyl, M.D., performed a heart and lung check on rising senior and Green Wave basketball standout Ryan Elzy.
Elzy, who plays guard and achieved the career milestone of topping the 1,000-point-threshold in his junior season, said he appreciated and “felt safe” with the effort put in to enforcing social distancing and other universal precautions during Ponchatoula High’s physical day.
Incoming freshman Darcy Mattei likewise said she felt safe, giving a nod to the overall cleanliness and sophisticated organization of the event. Mattei hopes to play softball and volleyball for the Green Wave. Her father Tim Mattei, who has been Ponchatoula High School’s athletic director for 15 years, also felt physical day flowed well.
“Having the full-time services of North Oaks Sports Medicine Athletic Trainer Nick Owens is great. In cases of injuries, he really helps take the pressure off our coaches by working with North Oaks physicians and therapists to expedite diagnosis and rehabilitation so our student-athletes can get back in the training room and on the playing field as safely and quickly as possible,” Mattei said. “And now we are fortunate that North Oaks is offering sports performance services.”
Sports Performance Specialist Taylor Dunn comes to the program with national certifications as a strength and conditioning specialist, tactical strength and conditioning facilitator, and in weightlifting and basic life support. He anticipates graduating in December with a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He previously earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a minor in psychology from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
He is a U.S. Army veteran who served from 2013-2016 in the 101st Airborne Division on the 3rd Brigade Combat Team receiving Afghanistan Campaign with Campaign Star, Army Commendation, Army Achievement, Army Good Conduct and Global War on Terrorism Service medals.
While in school pursuing his profession, he served as a quarterback coach for Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge, strength and conditioning intern with Head Olympic Weightlifting Coach Matt Bruce’s Bruce Barbell/Brute Strength online training programs and graduate intern with Alabama’s football, volleyball and track & field teams.
“His wealth of knowledge in strength and conditioning brings a new dimension to our team,” Troulliet said. “Despite the obstacles presented by COVID-19, he’s moving forward with working with the coaches of our partner schools to give them the individualized insights and assistance needed to enhance the performance of their student-athletes. In addition to in0-person instruction, he’s utilizing face-to-face, virtual meetings, apps and videos as methods of instruction. Whether it be corrective lifting techniques, speed, agility or footwork, Taylor has it all.”
Troulliet has been with the health system since 2017. She previously served as a physical therapist with North Oaks Rehabilitation Services. Last year, the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy selected her as one of three professionals from across the U.S. to participate in the Kevin Wilk Traveling Fellowship.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a doctorate in physical therapy through Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.
She has been a sideline coverage volunteer at SLU football games since 2018 and high school football games in Tangipahoa Parish since 2017. In 2017 and 2019, she served as a medical volunteer for the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in New Orleans.