Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Meet Doug Casa: Member A4IA Medical Advisory Board

Douglas J. Casa, PhD, ATC, FACSM, FNATA is a current member of the Advocates for Injured Athletes Medical Advisory Board.  Dr. Casa has been involved with A4IA almost since its inception providing insight and up-to-date information on all topics related to preventing sudden death, but especially exertional heat illness (EHI).  For those “in the know” Dr. Casa is considered a content expert in the area of exertional heat illness, working most prominently through the Korey Stringer Institute to help promote heat illness prevention and overall sport safety.  A4IA is proud to have Dr. Casa be a part of the Medical Advisory Board and appreciates the information and insight he brings to educating student-athletes about EHI through the ASA™ Program.  This blog is an opportunity for all our readers to get to know Doug a little better.

One of the most fascinating stories about Doug is how he got his start in athletic training and developed his passion for better understanding EHI.  For him, it began in 1985 during a track event at the Empire State Games.  For those of you who don’t know, the Empire State Games are an annual summer amateur event that gives high school and master athletes alike the opportunity to showcase their skills.  Doug was running the 10k as a high school student on a very hot day and collapsed on the track near the finish line.  He had suffered exertional heat stroke.  Thanks to the quick actions of an athletic trainer at the event he survived to tell his story.  He also decided at that point he was going to make it his passion to better understand EHI through research and educate others.  That passion put him on the path to becoming an athletic trainer and a researcher.  He is still filling both those roles today at the University of Connecticut as both Director of the Athletic Training Education Program and the Chief Operating Officer of the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI).

For me, the more interesting part of Doug’s story is something that happened in 2001 at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium.  Doug had been selected to receive the NATA’s New Investigator Award and was asked to give a presentation in connection with receiving this award.  As part of his acceptance speech he relived the fateful event that happened in the summer of 1985 and had guided him to this day.  He had told this story on several previous occasions, but on this day it would help him meet the man who saved his life 16 years before.  An athletic trainer sitting in the audience (Cindy Trowbridge, PhD, ATC) heard the story and had realized she has heard it somewhere before… at Ithaca College.  Kent Scriber, Head Athletic Trainer and Athletic Training
Education Program Director at Ithaca College at the time had relayed Doug’s story in his athletic training classes and to colleagues many times, but had never learned who the young man was that he saved that day.  Thanks to a former colleague and a stroke of luck Doug and Kent met for the first time.  Since that time they have collaborated on research projects, given presentations to each other’s students and become close friends.  At the time, Kent was just doing his job, helping a high school athlete.  Little did he know that doing so allowed Doug to become who he is today and now their combined impact is immeasurable. 

For those of you who have watched any recent ESPN, PBS or other programming pieces on EHI you have probably seen Doug speaking  about KSI and the work it is doing around EHI.  The Korey Stringer Institute has four primary focus areas:  1) research, 2) education, 3) policy, and 4) mass media/outreach.  Most of us are probably most familiar with his mass media work (ESPN, PBS, NFL Network, etc.) that spans 40 articles in over 1000 newspapers, but the impact KSI is making is much broader.  Research assistants (currently 15 graduate assistants) are continually collecting data at live events including the Falmouth Road Race, Marine Corps Marathon, the IronMan Triathalon, and the New York Giants.  Additionally, numerous projects have been completed in the laboratory setting using the heat chamber or other tools.  One of the more interesting projects currently underway is looking at thermal imaging and trying to learn what it can tell us about EHI risk.  Doug and KSI also work to educate states on what the standard of care should be in order to prevent, recognize and treat EHI.  He is a strong proponent of standard guidelines.  His policy work has led to approved guidelines in Florida, Texas and Georgia.  Other policy areas include using AEDs and implementing EAPs.  Finally, education is critical to the success of heat illness prevention including textbook development for coaches and healthcare professionals as well as collaborating with other organizations.

Originally A4IA was connected to Doug Casa through a mutual connection.  That original connection ultimately led to Doug’s role on the Medical Advisory Board.  His input with the ASA™ Program, especially the heat illness component has been invaluable.  Doug’s continued commitment to Advocates for Injured Athletes beyond those initial requests is very important in keeping the program content current, especially as the program’s reach continues to grow.  In an interesting turn of fate, Doug and KSI recently recognized Beth and Advocates for Injured Athletes as the KSI Lifesaving Education Award winner this past April.  What you know, may save someone you know!  continues to ring true.

As some final food for thought, I asked Doug if he could give one piece of advice to parents who have children participating in sports and without hesitation he said,

“Make sure there is an athletic trainer available to provide care.  In an emergency the first three to five minutes can make the difference between life and death and you need a trained professional.  You can’t count on a coach or another parent to provide care.”

Submitted by Heather L. Clemons, MS, MBA, ATC

No comments:

Post a Comment