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APTANJ 'Motion Specialists' Mobilize to Help Athletes Complete the First Ironman U.S. Championship.

The American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey (APTANJ) is preparing an army of physical therapists to help 2,500 triathletes complete the first Ironman U.S. Championship in New Jersey and New York on August 11

ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. -- The grueling, 17-hour-long Ironman U.S. Championship is a 140.6-mile race that includes a 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson River, a 112-mile bike race along the cliffs of the Palisades Parkway and a marathon that spans a 26.2-mile course crosses the George Washington Bridge and finishes in the heart of Manhattan, at 81st Street in Riverside Park.

"This event is a pinnacle of achievement for triathletes," says Mike Eisenhart, an APTANJ physical therapist (PT) who will compete in the race. "It caps months of preparation and the most important thing for participants is to cross the finish line."

And that's where physical therapy comes in. For most people, a PT's role is to restore and improve motion to achieve long-term quality of life.

When it comes to the Ironman event, "our mission as motion specialists is to help athletes cross the finish line and to fulfill their dream of completing one of the most challenging athletic events in the world."

Eisenhart, a physical therapy motion specialist who completed the Ironman event in Southern Utah in 2011, saw a need for physical therapists to be included on the course, along with a medical doctor and a nurse, that were already being provided.

"A physical therapist is the professional of choice when it comes to assessing, evaluating and treating musculoskeletal impairments in all areas of the population," he says. "Athletes commonly experience some form of injury, either in training or during an event and we help them get back on their feet safely."

Recruitment

With the August 11 date approaching, Eisenhart and fellow PT Justin Bagley turned the challenge into a team-building and learning opportunity for members of the APTANJ.

Their vision was to add a physical therapist in every medical tent along the 140.6-mile course and augment the care being provided by a medical doctor and nurse. In addition to two main medical tents, there will be seven smaller tents on the 112-mile bike course and 12 along the 26.2-mile marathon. They pitched the idea to Ironman officials and were approved to join the team.

Working under direction of the race's medical director, at least one PT and one PT/PTA student will augment the medical effort at every race location to help athletes compete and complete the race safely.

"We'll be working as motion specialists as part of a comprehensive medical team, providing frontline intervention for athletes," Bagley says. The training will expand APTANJ members' knowledge and experience in the whole triathlon topic area.

"They are already trained but this will give them more specifics and actual experience in treating common conditions that come with endurance events like this, such as dehydration, lack of sodium from excessive sweating, joint pain, cramping and on."

Preparations

With more than 2,500 athletes expected from all over the world, we can't be too prepared," Bagley says. "We are being very deliberate in our approach to ensure the health and safety of the athletes. We want to make this is the most smooth and rewarding learning experience possible for our PTs and the most inspiring and powerful event for the athletes."

"We are doing this out of our love for the sport and our passion for physical therapy," says Eisenhart. "We hope that our efforts help communicate our expertise as motion specialists to athletes and to other physical therapists who'd like to join the APTANJ organization."

For more information about the American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey (APTANJ), visit www.aptanj.org. For more information about the Ironman U.S. Championships on August 11, visit http://ironmanuschampionship.com/

Headquartered in Robbinsville, APTANJ represents approximately 2,000 members, including physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and PT/PTA students. The professional association is dedicated to promoting the integrity and excellence through the coordination of physical therapy advocacy, education, and resources.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U5NC
Date:Jul 24, 2012
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