Gordo Encore Athlete of the Month, Cliff Morton.

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Congratulations to the Gordo Encore Athlete of the Month, Cliff Morton! Cliff is a junior athlete from Pickens County High School. He has played on the Basketball and Baseball teams for 4 years now and wears jersey #5. Cliff has won the Hustle Award for Baseball and MVP for JV Basketball. After graduation, Cliff plans to attend college to become an RN. Cliff is the son of Greg and Anissa Morton.

Diamondhead Encore Athlete of the Month, Ally Gaspard


Congratulations to the Diamondhead Encore Athlete of the Month, Ally Gaspard! Ally is a dancer and cheerleader for Our Lady Academy in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. She is a senior and has cheered on the varsity squad for a year.  Ally has numerous dance awards and plans to dance at Belhaven and major in Business. She is the daughter of Kevin and Wendy Gaspard.

Kinesio tape: Many Olympians are wearing it, so does it really work?


It started showing up at the 2008 Olympics, we saw a lot of it in the 2012 Olympics, and I’ve seen in on multiple athletes in the 2016 Olympics–  swatches in various colors applied in seemingly haphazard patterns to the body surface.  With all the exposure, many are asking what does it do and does it work? Kinesio tape was developed in the 1970s by Kenzo Kaze-a chiropractor and acupuncturist. It is made of cotton, is latex free, and has a heat activated acrylic adhesive.

Plenty of elite athletes believe in it and claim that the tape is comfortable, flexible, and provides support to muscles and joints without limiting range of motion. It replicates the thickness and elasticity of skin, helping with function, stability, blood flow, and peace of mind.


“Enthusiasts also believe that kinesiology tape speeds healing by slightly lifting skin away from sore or injured tissues, improving blood flow and lymphatic drainage, and that it supports injured joints and muscles without impeding their range of motion. But these purported benefits are largely unsubstantiated.” – The New York Times 

It’s true, clinical trials have not provided much support for the tape. One study found that the tape provided relief from shoulder pain immediately after application, but, the effects did not last over time. Another study found small beneficial results with range of motion.

None of the studies reported negative effects which may be why trainers use the tape on athletes who report benefits with it. According to Aaron Brock ATC, director of sports medicine for USA Volleyball, he has had “hit and miss results…some people absolutely love it…and sometimes, from a therapeutic perspective, we’re doing so many things,we don’t know what is effective and what isn’t…”

The bottom line is, more scientific research is needed to make a conclusive determination for its claims. But I have to give Kinesio tape credit since i’ve seen so many Olympians wearing it. Plus, it just looks really cool.


**This article was written by Jennifer Cordover, Director of Encore Performance Rehab in Birmingham, AL. 

East Central Athlete of the Month, Eric Saksa.

Congratulations to the East Central Athlete of the Month, Eric Saksa!

Eric is a sophomore athlete at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Mississippi. He is on the Wildcats Varsity Baseball team and wears jersey #14. He has a 3.5 GPA and is majoring in Pre-medical sciences. He is the son of Mike and Tonya Saksa. Good luck during baseball season, Eric! Go Wildcats!

Patient success story: Mr. Barker, catastrophic stroke patient.

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Kacee Ward, SLP, Mr. Barker, and Jaime Garrett, OTR

Mr. Barker suffered a catastrophic stroke in February 2015. He received inpatient therapy and was then transferred to Ocean Springs Health and Rehabilitation Nursing Home for long-term care. After discharge, he received therapy in the home environment before beginning PT, OT, and speech at the local VA. A swallow study was conducted which indicated that Mr. Barker was aspirating on foods and liquids so it was decided that he would rely solely on the feeding tube that had been placed in the hospital for all of his nutritional needs, meaning that he could not eat or drink anything by mouth. He was wheelchair bound, required assistance for most of his self-care and had significant coordination and visual deficits. On 10/05/15, Mr. Barker was evaluated by speech therapy at the Neuroscience Center. Following evaluation, it was decided that the main goals of therapy would be to increase intelligibility when speaking and upgrade the patient’s diet from a feeding tube to foods and liquids that he could tolerate safely. Shortly after, patient also began occupational and physical therapy at the Neuroscience Center where he began training using a walker, learning techniques to compensate for visual deficits, balance training, strengthening and coordination training.

After several months of swallowing exercises in conjunction with neuromuscular electrical stimulation, Mr. Barker had a repeat swallow study. The speech therapist who conducted the study found that Mr. Barker was safe to start out on a mechanical soft diet with nectar-thickened liquids. We could finally start trials of foods and drinks in therapy! His feeding tube was removed on June 29th after he had maintained a healthy weight over the course of one month. As of August 2016, Mr. Barker is able to go out and enjoy meals at his favorite restaurants and at home. He is able to walk using a walker, can complete nearly all self-care with independence and even participates in light household tasks.

On a scale of 1-10, Mr. Barker rated his overall recovery at the beginning of therapy at this clinic at a 2, and now he feels that he is at a 9/10, “only because there is always room for improvement.”

Fayette Encore Athlete of the Month, Austin Hattaway.


Congratulations to the Fayette Encore Athlete of the Month, Austin Hattaway! Austin is a senior athlete at Fayette County High School. He has played on the Varsity Baseball team for 3 years and wears jersey number 7. After graduation next spring, Austin plans to attend college to major in sports medicine. He is the son of Jessica and Justin Freeman.
Keep up the good work, Austin! Good luck your senior year!

Aching backs and shoulders, weakened muscles, and stooped posture? Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students.

Carrying too much weight in a pack or wearing it the wrong way can lead to pain and strain. Parents can take steps to help children load and wear backpacks the correct way to avoid health problems.

Loading a Pack

  • A child’s backpack should weigh no more than about 10% of his or her body weight. This means a student weighing 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than about 10 pounds.
  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack).
  • Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
  • Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
  • If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand carry a book or other item outside the pack.
  • If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

    Wearing a Pack

  • Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack ts snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
  • The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
  • School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your child as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.

Just remember the “1, 2, 3’s of Backpacking.”

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This article was compiled from AOTA resources that can be found at the links below:




• http://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/Backpack/meet-your-backpack-8-2014.pdf?la=en


FAST-TWITCH & SLOW-TWITCH MUSCLES: What muscle fiber types will take an athlete from good to great?


“Looking to build endurance? What about power? Do dreams of being an all-star hitter or marathon runner need to be dashed if twitch ratios aren’t ideal? Not necessarily. The types of muscle fibers targeted in different types of training programs can impact performance goals.”

“As most of us may recall from our physiology studies, there are two main types of human skeletal muscle fiber types, type I and type II, or slow-twitch and fast-twitch, respectively. Fast-twitch are further classified into type IIa and type IIx. They differ in both their biochemical and contractile properties.”

Slow-twitch, Type I

“These muscle fibers have high concentrations of mitochondria and myoglobin, and although they are smaller than the fast-twitch fibers, are surrounded by more capillaries (1,2). This combination supports their capacity for aerobic metabolism and fatigue resistance, particularly important for prolonged submaximal exercise activities. Type I fibers produce less force, are slower to produce maximal tension (lower myosin ATPase activity) compared to type II fibers, but they are able to maintain longer-term contractions, key for stabilization and postural control (1,2).”

Fast-twitch, Type II

“Our fast-twitch, type II muscle fibers are further divided into type IIx and type IIa. Typically, these have lower concentrations of mitochondria, myoglobin, and capillaries compared to our slow-twitch fibers and are quicker to fatigue (1,2). These larger-sized fibers are also able to produce a greater and quicker force, an important consideration for power activities (1,2).”

  • Type IIx: These fibers produce the most force, but are incredibly inefficient based on their high myosin ATPase activity, low oxidative capacity, and heavy reliance on anaerobic metabolism (1,2).
  • Type IIa: These fibers are also known as intermediate fibers, a mix if you will, of type I and type IIx, with comparable tension. Able to use both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, these fibers have a higher oxidative capacity and fatigue more slowly than type IIx (1,2).

What’s my type?

“So now that we’ve covered the different types, are you wondering what type you are? Short of having a muscle biopsy, and make that multiple biopsies since not all muscles in the body will be the same, we are a mix of both fast and slow in all of our muscles (1). Nonathletic individuals have close to a 50/50 balance of fiber types. When you start looking at highly skilled, top-performing athletes, some differences may begin to appear. For the power athlete, there’s a higher ratio of fast-twitch fibers (e.g., sprinters 70-75% type II), whereas for the endurance athlete there are more slow-twitch fibers (e.g., marathon/distance runners 70-80% type I) (2). Of course, muscle fiber type is not the only factor in an athlete’s success! There are plenty of other variables that take an athlete from good to great.”

“Age is also a factor for our muscle fibers. As we age, there’s a loss in lean muscle mass, with a decline in our fast-twitch fibers, especially the type IIx, but there is also an increase in our slow-twitch fibers (2-4). Recall that the fast-twitch fibers are larger in size than the slow-twitch, metabolically efficient fibers. This loss of lean muscle mass can contribute to age-related metabolic dysfunctions, body composition changes, even an increased risk of falls (2-5). Resistance training can help combat this decline.”

Type Training

“Fiber types can be modified to some degree by exercise. Type I fibers are targeted with endurance training, such as lower resistance with higher repetitions, or longer duration with a lower intensity, as seen in OPT ™ Phases 1 and 2 (7,8). Strength training targets the type II fibers. Resistance training increases the size of both type I and type II muscle fibers, with greater growth (i.e., hypertrophy) occurring in the type II fibers with an increase in actin and myosin filaments, which also results in an increased ability to generate force (2). An increase in type IIx to type IIa, but not increase type I can also be seen in prolonged resistance training (2). Fast-twitch fibers can be slow-twitch recruits: endurance training and high-intensity intervals can be effective in improving aerobic power (2,6).”

Tapering during training programs (e.g., reducing volume and intensity) can also improve the strength and power of type IIa fibers, without a decrease in type 1 performance (9). For example, in a study investigating muscle fiber changes in recreational runners training for a marathon, after 13 weeks of increasing mileage and a three week tapering cycle, it was found that not only did the functions of type 1 and type IIa fibers improve, but that type IIa continued to improve significantly during the tapering cycle (9).”


** This article was written by a NASM publisher. The full article can be found here

Risk of Lymphedema Following Cancer Interventions

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Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of protein and water that causes swelling, occurring most frequently in an arm or leg. Cancer interventions often damage portions of the lymphatic system and are the leading cause of lymphedema in the United States. The lymphatic system is a complex system made up of lymphatic fluid, lymph nodes, vessels, collectors, the spleen, and thymus. Its main functions are to drain substances that cannot be absorbed by the vascular system and also plays a role in your immune response.

Surgical procedures such a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or lymph node resection remove or damage lymph nodes in the affected region, decreasing your body’s ability to filter out this lymph fluid. Radiation treatment also poses a threat for lymphatic system damage. Since lymphatic vessels are mere millimeters beneath the surface of the skin, scar tissue formation along radiation treatment areas can impair lymphatic flow through these vessels. These cancer interventions compromise the lymphatic system which significantly increases the risk of developing lymphedema.

According to the Academy of Lymphatic Studies’, 50-75% of patients that have undergone a mastectomy secondary to breast cancer acquire lymphedema within 5 years. Any cancer that requires surgical intervention and/or radiation on or near the neck, armpit, or groin are also at an increased risk of developing lymphedema. Examples include the following: Breast, prostate, uterus, bladder, lymphoma, and melanoma. Although the majority of lymphedema diagnoses are secondary to cancer, lymphedema may also occur secondary a congenital malformation of the lymphatic system (primary lymphedema) or secondary to trauma, infection, malignant tumors, or chronic venous insufficiencies.

Early detection and management of lymphedema is key! Recognizing these early symptoms and talking with your doctor can ensure you receive proper lymphedema treatment and obtain adequate education and tools needed to manage your diagnosis.

Early signs and symptoms of lymphedema include the following and may come and go at first:

    • Swelling in all or part of the affected region – pressing on the skin with your finger may leave an indentation, which is called pitting edema
    • Abnormal feeling in the extremity, such as tingling, numbness, tight feeling, heavy felling, or just that something doesn’t feel right
    • Rings or clothing fitting differently
    • Veins or tendons harder to distinguish

Regardless of whether lymphedema was caused by cancer interventions or by another source, it is important to know that there are trained therapists nearby that can assist you in understanding your diagnosis. The current gold standard for lymphedema treatment is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which consists of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), compression bandage application, decongestive exercises and skin care. CDT is available locally at the Neuroscience Center in Ocean Springs and at the Medical Park in Pascagoula.

For additional information, please come to one of our free educational meetings held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month on the 2nd floor of the Neuroscience Center in Ocean Springs (building right next door to the Cancer Center).

This article was written by Jaime Garrett, MS, OTR/L for Encore Rehabilitation in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.