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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Cutting-Edge Collaboration

Published January 22, 2015 2:00 PM by Brian Ferrie

PHILADELPHIA -- When the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Annual Convention came to this country's birthplace last week, ADVANCE made sure to be on the scene. Held in conjunction with the 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) draft, the conference is billed as "The World's Largest Annual Gathering of Soccer Coaches," drawing more than 10,000 attendees for live field demonstrations and lecture sessions.

The City of Brotherly Love played host to the 2015 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention.

This year for the first time, US Soccer and MLS also partnered to conduct a trailblazing two-day Medical Symposium during the convention. Featuring healthcare professionals from both organizations, it focused on player health and safety issues related to youth, amateur and professional soccer.

The event provided an opportunity for the soccer community to review the latest research, identify best practices, develop additional strategies for enhancing safety and reducing injuries, as well as chart a course to further understand soccer-related medical issues.

Of particular interest to ADVANCE was the session, "Lower Extremity Injuries in the Sport of Soccer," presented by John Gallucci Jr., MS, ATC, PT, DPT, president of JAG Physical Therapy in New Jersey and medical coordinator of Major League Soccer.

Also the former head trainer for the league's New York Red Bulls, Gallucci now coordinates the medical care of more than 500 professional soccer players in MLS.

"For this presentation, I've tried to take all my years of experience as a physical therapist and athletic trainer, to bring you the common-sense concepts of where we stand today in preventing and treating soccer injuries," Gallucci told the attentive audience. "Being dual-degreed, it's great that I can help athletes from the start of their injury all the way to returning to full participation."

He pointed out that soccer is among the fastest-growing team sports in the United States, with an estimated 15.5 million participants, and that 50-80 percent of all soccer injuries are to the lower extremity.

"You as coaches and administrators can be advocates for your injured players," emphasized Gallucci.

One of their most important roles is to enforce sensible practice schedules to help prevent overuse injuries, which are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students, he noted.

How do overuse injuries occur? "Too much, too often, too quickly, and with too little rest and recovery," said Gallucci. "Most overuse injuries can be avoided with common sense and good training programs."

Coaches need to understand the requirements of their athletes, which can vary based on sport, position, and level of competition.

"Every exercise is not appropriate for every athlete!" he added.

Speaker John Gallucci Jr., MS, ATC, PT, DPT, medical coordinator of Major League Soccer.

When soccer players do get injured, Gallucci stressed that coaches should be patient during rehabilitation and respect the process.

"To return to sport, an athlete must have no pain, range of motion within normal limits, 5/5 strength, ability to perform sport-specific drills in a clinical setting, and graded return-to-play progression," concluded Gallucci. "You can't take a player straight from a treatment session to a 90-minute game."

‚óŹ For more information about the 2015 NSCAA Annual Convention and US Soccer/Major League Soccer Medical Symposium, check out http://www.nscaa.com/.

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