HAMMOND — The North Oaks Sports Medicine team uses the downtime caused by the coronavirus global pandemic to re-evaluate and redesign service delivery to each of its partner schools under the tutelage of doctors Katy Morris and Jeffery Witty, who are board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists, a press release said.
Already staffed by nationally certified collegiate, high school and junior high athletic trainers, as well as sports-focused physical therapists and nutritionists, the program recently welcomed Clinical Supervisor Rebecca Troulliet, who is a board-certified physical therapy sports clinical specialist, and Sports Performance Specialist Taylor Dunn to the team.
With the redesign completed, student-athletes, their coaches and parents affiliated with each partner school now benefit from a more comprehensive program, the release said. North Oaks Sports Medicine’s specialists utilize science-driven exercise and nutrition programs to enhance athletic performance and prevent injuries and are able to deploy advanced technology in the areas of diagnostic imaging, concussion management, orthopedics, emergency and trauma care, as well as surgical and rehabilitative services when injuries occur.
North Oaks Sports Medicine also retired the annual Physical Day model that it used for 29 years in favor individual screening events at each partner school.
“The end result is a more personalized level of care for our student-athletes,” Troulliet 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,” Troulliet said. “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 Sports Medicine provides free annual physicals to student-athletes in fulfillment of Louisiana High School Athletic Association requirements for participation in school sports programs.
North Oaks Sports Medicine enacted a plan to visit partner 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 school to perform the physicals, including orthopedic and primary care providers, nationally certified athletic trainers, physical therapists and other medical specialists. Up to 50 physicals per hour can be completed using this model, Troulliet said.
Jason St. Pierre, principal of Walker High School, praised the onsite format.
“It’s certainly more convenient for our student-athletes and coaches to have the physicals performed here at the school, and it creates a great opportunity for networking among North Oaks health care professionals, our administration and coaches, student-athletes and their parents,” St. Pierre said. “It shows that North Oaks Sports Medicine is committed to our community and the success and safety of our athletic program.”
At Walker High School, health care professionals were able to perform the physicals in the school’s new gym, which features dedicated clinic space for North Oaks Sports Medicine to care for both male and female student-athletes.
At other schools, gyms, cafeterias, classrooms and even hallways were converted into 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 orthopedic 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 performed a heart and lung check on rising senior and Greenwave basketball player Ryan Elzy.
Elzy, who plays guard and topped the 1,000-point-threshold in his junior season, said he appreciated the effort put in to enforcing social distancing and other universal precautions during Ponchatoula High’s physical day. “I felt safe,” Elzy said.
Incoming freshman Darcy Mattei also 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 Greenwave.
Her father Tim Mattei, who has been Ponchatoula High School’s athletics director for 15 years, also felt the 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. I’m really excited about the potential this addition has to elevate the success of our individual student-athletes and our program overall.”
Paving the way for sports performance at North Oaks’ partner schools is Sports Performance Specialist Taylor Dunn. He 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 LSU.
He is a U.S. Army veteran who served from 2013-2016.
While in school, he took advantage of internships, including quarterbacks 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 the University of Alabama’s football, volleyball and track and field teams.
Troulliet said Dunn is giving schools “individualized insights and assistance needed to enhance the performance of their student-athletes. In addition to in-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.
Troulliet earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a doctorate in physical therapy through LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. She served as an inaugural board member for SLU's GOLD Council, which is a leadership organization dedicated to fostering and sustaining relationships with graduates of the last decade.
Professionally, she has chaired the Northshore District of the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association since 2017 and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Troulliet serves as 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.