University of South Florida

USF athletic trainers bring their A-game to TECO team members’ safety

The following story, written by Brian Lott, appeared Feb. 8, 2013, in TECO Energy News. It has been slightly edited.

A partnership between Tampa Electric’s safety team and athletic trainers from the University of South Florida’s Sports Medicine & Athletic Related Trauma (SMART) Institute is scoring points for accident prevention.

 The program came out of a series of presentations to team members about ergonomics given by Dr. Barbara Morris, an adjunct professor of Athletic Training at USF. The enthusiastic response to the presentations among linemen got Morris and Tampa Electric Safety Coordinator Darrell Smith thinking: How could TECO team members get more out of the skills that members of USF’s athletic training team possess? 

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Dr. Barbara Morris of the USF Sports Medicine & Athletic-Related Trauma (SMART) Institute with Darrell Smith, Tampa Electric safety coordinator

 “You watch professional sports and you see athletic trainers on the sidelines all the time,” Smith said. “Why wouldn’t we utilize the expertise of athletic trainers to help our people serve our customers and the community?”

 Last year, Smith and Morris put their idea into practice, with USF athletic trainers from the SMART Institute coming to TECO to offer advice to team members about reducing muscle-related injuries. They also treat minor injuries such as sprains and strains that can slow linemen down at work and home – but that aren’t severe enough to merit a trip to the hospital.

 “TECO has nurses who, of course, are great at what they do, but in a lot of cases, nurses don’t have the kind of musculoskeletal expertise that athletic trainers have,” Morris said. “At USF, athletic trainers help train the medical students on musculoskeletal content.”

 The bottom line, Smith stressed, is to make sure every team member stays safe – and to provide treatment to everyone who needs it.

 “Journeymen are tough; the hard work they do to serve customers is their game,” said Morris, who played collegiate fast-pitch softball and even appeared on the TV series American Gladiators. “Plus, a factor working increasingly in in everyone’s favor is that each new generation of journeymen seems more open to the injury-prevention information we can give them.”

 Smith, for his part, played college football.

 “I still feel it,” he laughed, stretching an arm with a wince.

 “Our linemen, guys like that on the front lines – they’re TECO’s star athletes, and part of winning the game is to stay healthy,” Smith said. “It’s our job to help them. So far, with the help of Dr. Morris and her team, it looks like we’re doing things right.”


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