Article reposted from Tewskbury Town Crier
Author: JOSEPH QUILTY III
When she was a child, Tori Kendall was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. She dealt with those symptoms while playing softball and ice hockey in high school and now years later, she is the one helping student-athletes with their own symptoms and injuries. The 22-year-old Lexington native was recently named the new Athletic Trainer at Tewksbury Memorial High School and so far she’s adapted very well to the position.
“Tori has been a real nice addition for us,” TMHS Athletic Director Ron Drouin said. “She has fit right in with the coaches. The student-athletes seem comfortable with her, and she is providing the services that our athletes need. I hope to have her around here for a long time.”
After graduating from Lexington High School, Kendall attended the University of Vermont and graduated last May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Athletic Training. Kendall has a deep passion for helping athletes, dating back to dealing with her own juvenile arthritis condition.
“I had juvenile arthritis when I was in seventh grade,” Kendall said. “It took [the doctors] a while to figure out what it was because it’s not something usual, so I ended up seeing a bunch of sports medical doctors.”
The doctors did not think that Kendall had any kind of arthritis because it’s not something kids usually get.
“I tried a bunch of physical therapy and that didn’t really do much because it wasn’t a strength issue,” she explained. “I tried doing nothing and that didn’t help either. Then they finally sent me to a rheumatologist and she was the one who put me on meds and that finally started to work.”
Kendall went on to say that her diagnosis never really hindered her and in fact it’s how she got first interested in studying athletic training.
“I’ve always been fully functional and it’s never been debilitating for me it’s just how I was first introduced to my high school athletic trainer,” she said. “But UVMs program and working hands on in the classroom and clinical experiences is really what made me fall in love with athletic training and getting to help athletes return to their sport and doing what they love is why I do what I do.
“As a kid I was someone who was always in and out of the doctors’ offices through middle school and high school. My athletic trainer in high school was the one who turned me on to it at first. I wasn’t positive what I wanted to do going into college, but when I got to UVM and got into the program it was obvious that this is what I wanted to do.”
The former high school softball and ice hockey player turned athletic trainer previously worked at Lexington-area summer camps.
“I worked with Northeastern Field Hockey camp and Harvard Hockey camp. That was my first experience being an athletic trainer on my own. (Then this past) fall I worked at the University of New Hampshire with their volleyball team. It was a really cool experience,” she said.
Since taking the position at TMHS, Kendall’s days are anything but typical. Once the school day ends at 1:49pm, a rush of student-athletes come in to see Kendall for various reasons between all sorts of different injuries, aches and pains, to be taped up, to receive treatments as well as guidance for staying healthy and pain free.
Tewksbury High junior Alec Hirtle visited Kendall’s office last Thursday for some electric stimulation therapy. This kind of therapy defined by advanceaquaticpt.com is a “therapeutic treatment that applies electrical stimulation in treating muscle spasms and pain. It can help prevent atrophy and build strength in patients with injuries.”
Throughout any day there’s an average of 20 students that seek assistant from Kendall. Ankle injuries are the most common, but concussions have become the biggest concerning injuries. She was asked how she diagnosis an athlete with a concussion.
“I use a SCAT (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) where you go through a lot of different areas, such as cognitive, balance, coordination, recall, and then symptoms,” she said. “A lot of it is what the kid tells you. So them reporting their symptoms is one of the most important parts, which is why we really have to educate them on what a concussion is and how it can affect you, not only now, but later in life. If I think a kid has a concussion I send them to their pediatrician or primary care to get a doctor’s diagnosis. The doctor is the one that can clear them to return.”
Kendall goes on to say that concussions are harder to know about right away because you can’t see your brain like you can see a broken bone poking out of the skin. If she sees someone hit their head she asks them if they are feeling ok and questions them on the symptoms they might be feeling. “[The athletes] being honest is really one of the most important parts.”
The timetable of a concussion recovery is anywhere between a week to a year. Every injury is different and there’s no way of putting one time on all concussions.
“The average, research says, is around two weeks until they’re fully recovered,” she said.
During her sessions with the athletes on Thursday afternoon, a freshman basketball player was taking a concussion ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test on the computer. “It’s a really good tool to see how kids are recovering,” Kendall said. “We use ImPACT which is like a computerized test and you do a baseline of everyone. They take it before their season begins and then if they get a head injury they take it again and we can compare their baseline to their post injury and look for differences.”
The basketball player said that she had been cleared her own doctor before taking the test with Kendall. After completing the test, Kendall smiled and said, “You’ve been approved. You can go back to playing basketball.”
Students and parents can follow Tori Kendall on twitter @ATC_TMHS where she posts her schedule and other TMHS related things, including staying up to date with various sports injuries.