On The Impact Of Catching a Softball In A Quick Pitch to a Person’s Knees and Injury

With the knowledge of the kinematic insult, the impact of quality of life was then further researched. The databases that were used to obtain information include ProQuest, JSTOR, AJOT, and SPORTDiscus. To retrieve these articles from the databases, the researcher used key terms such as: “knee joint” softball, fastpitch softball, knee injury “quality of life”, quality of life “athletes”, Division I athlete, and rehabilitation. The research articles that were chosen by the researcher ranged from the years of 1977-2018. To justify the use of the research article from 1977, the researcher strongly believed the information was crucial to understanding the evolution of the definition of “quality of life”. Through the process of selecting and narrowing multiple research studies, the literature review was separated into three sections.

The first section includes the muscular impact that is placed on a fastpitch softball catcher’s knees when enduring a position for a prolonged period of time. The second section covers the quality of life of the athlete that is participating in Division I athletics. The third section of the literature review includes the role of the occupational therapist in the rehabilitation process of the Division I alumni fastpitch softball player. Muscular Impact of Fastpitch Softball Catching To a spectator, the physical demands of being a fastpitch softball catcher may not seem as difficult or tiresome of those of a softball pitcher. However, it is proven that the abnormal-looking windmill is a natural movement of the body therefore it does not induce as much wear and tear on the body as the constant crouching position of a catcher does. A softball game typically lasts anywhere from one to two hours to complete a total of seven innings.

However, Division I athletics frequently participate in tournaments and double-headers to benefit from the total time spent in route to and from the game. Every other inning, the softball catcher is in a crouching position, decompressing the knee joint and muscles for the duration of that inning. The catcher is also frequently exposed to blows to the knee from dropping to block poor pitches, to make tags at home plate, and repetitive crouch-to-stand transitioning when returning the ball back to the pitcher. When a baserunner attempts to steal second base, catchers are trained to transfer the ball from the glove to their throwing hand as fast as possible simultaneously while dropping to their knees to throw down to second base. This transition must happen in two seconds or less or the possibility of tagging the runner out at second is out of the question. Though dropping to the knees to throw down to second may be a faster transition method, it is proven to negatively affect other parts of the body more.

The majority of force generation in overhead throwing is produced, in the lower extremity, through the legs and trunk and then funneled through the glenohumeral joint and on to the ball. Sequential functioning of the lower extremity and trunk allow for the lack of lower extremity force generation, which leads to injury within the shoulder as the body attempts to create the force in the upper extremity. This negative strain induced on the shoulder joint due to the catcher throwing from their knees is unfortunately not the only negative effect. It is proven that when a catcher throws from her knees, the major force producer of the kinetic chain, the lower extremity, is altered, and therefore, the force that is typically generated is completely eliminated, increasing the athlete’s probability of acquiring an injury.

The knee is one of the most widely studied joints in female athletics. With the popularity of the sport of softball increasing, there has also been a concomitant increase in the number of injuries. According to the Sports Med Journal, “nearly 52% of cases qualify as major disabling injuries requiring 3 weeks or more of treatment and 2% require surgery”. Of these injury cases, approximately 19% of them involve the knee. Though it may be assumed that the majority of the injuries occur during play, high amounts of injuries have also been accumulated during practices. Approximately 34% of practice injuries consist of musculotendinous strains and incomplete tears, followed by contusions (19%), incomplete ligamentous tears and sprains (14%), and tendinitis and inflammation.

A Division I athlete experiences tremendous amount of pain due to the constant overuse of knee and shoulder joints. Softball catching may be an essential position on the field but off, the effects to the athletes overall quality of life are debilitating. Quality of Life in Athletics The quality of life of an individual can be difficult to define due to the altering experiences and viewpoints on life from person to person. What may seem fortunate to one individual may seem degrading to another. In order to avoid discrepancies between viewpoints among medical professionals, they tend to think of the quality of life of patients in terms of their measurable or quantifiable physical and mental characteristics, which can be expressed in mathematical terms. The original equation posed QL=NE where QL represents quality of life and NE represents the patient’s natural endowment. However, this equation did not account for the aptitudes, motivation, skills and pleasure, physical and intellectual, which the individual acquires as a result of efforts made on his behalf by his family and by society.

Therefore, the equation was altered to QL=NE x (H+ S), where H represents the contributions made to the individual by his home and family and S represents the contributions made to that individual by society (Shaw, 1977). Numerous aspects, including playing time, athletic ability, performance, and health, can affect the quality of life of an athlete. In a recent study, grade A evidence showed that uninjured athletes reported better health-related quality of life than injured athletes (Houston, 2016). Athletes who were injured reported with low self-esteem and depression due to their lack of ability to participate in the sport that they excel in. More specifically, currently uninjured athletes reported functional limitations on the DPA-PSC and increased fear-avoidance beliefs. The DPA-PSC contains questions such as “Do I have pain?”, “Do I have impaired motion?” and “Do I have difficulties with performing skills that are required for physical activity?”

Therefore, if an athlete reports pain that severely effects them, then it effects their performance skills which are required for physical activity, which have decreased with health related quality of life (Houston & Van Lunen, 2017). Though athletes endure immense amount of pain and wear on their bodies, studies have shown that athletes tend to have a greater quality of life than non-athletes. Through an athlete’s career, the athlete goes through several steps and various transitions at different levels, such as athletics, psychological, social, academic, vocational, and financial development. Athletes with a better quality of life are more capable of coping with stress and challenging situations than others, and this may be an advantage in a competitive environment. It was also proven that athletes who valued a religion, had an income, and were self-supporting showed higher quality of life than those who were without religion and relied on their family for financial means.

A Division I athlete’s quality of life is often skewed by the multiple stressors through injuries that they endure and the exhausting demands of being a college student on top of the requirements necessary to compete in the sport that they have submersed themselves in. When an athlete is constantly committed to a sport at a Division I level, other aspects of their lives start to take a toll. Social lives, academic performance, rest, sleep, and leisure are just a few aspects that are altered, if not taken away completely from these athletes. Previous research on academic motivation among collegiate student-athletes has focused on relations such as peer and race. However, the relationship between the gender of male and female needs to be further assessed. The study of academic success of student-athletes has been a topic of interest to many due to the stigma of underperformance.

However, eligibility to participate in the individual’s sport is known to drive the athlete to pursue their books as well as their performance. Athletes are believed to have low performance in academics due to their low motivation to pursue their interest and effort. Low motivation is one of many effects of the tiring, long hours that students put into their sports that when they do have spare time, they are too mentally drained to focus on schoolwork. Academic motivation is defined as, “a student’s desire (as reflected in approach, persistence, and level of interest) regarding academic subjects when the student’s competence is judged against a standard of performance or excellence”. Academic performance is typically judged by a student’s academic motivation to succeed in the classes that they are pursuing.

Typically, an athlete does not enter college with low academic motivation. However, as the athlete continues their education further and draws closer to graduation, academic motivation tends to decline as careless behaviors tend to increase. The decline in academic motivation is attributed to the realization that academic work at the collegiate level is arduous compared to high school material and student-athletes’ inability to adequately manage time. A decline in academic motivation and performance can also be attributed to through group norms, such as the team that the particular athlete is a part of. Certain team sports hold academic performance higher than others, as well as require a greater performance rate than another team may. For example, a sport that does not require as much practice or dedication to improvement may have more time to focus on their schoolwork, therefore hold this standard higher than a team who is constantly practicing and working on improving their skill in the sport.

Team members may also suffer from being bullied or ridiculed by other team members if they spend more time on school work than with their teammates practicing or socializing. Athletes who have higher academic performance and motivation may actually begin to lower their performance in the classroom to fit into their peer group and avoid being singled out from the rest of their teammates. According to Lee & Chen(2017), “students with higher intrinsic motivation have deeper engagement in the activity, higher persistence in learning, and better conceptual learning when compared to students who are extrinsically motivated”. This research suggests that academic performance can be altered through the assessment of academic motivation and services provided to students to improve these areas of their collegiate experience.

It has been found that females often possess higher academic motivation than males due to lower levels of athletic identity and less opportunity to gain professional status post collegiate experience. This fact becomes especially true on a campus such as Saint Francis University being a Division I level, providing more prospects and potential to further into a professional field of the sport the athlete is engaging in than a lower division could. Females tend to look at the “bigger picture” of what concludes their college experience, which requires a successful undergraduate and diploma in their field of study in relation to male athletes who remain in the present tense. A study was conducted at the Missouri Western State University of 40 student-athletes (20 males, 20 females) in order to further assess the academic performance of the sexes. The sample included athletes who were in and out of season, injured and healthy, and part of eight different sport teams.

Two independent t-tests were used to determine if level of academic motivation differed between male and female athletes. The first t-test measured academic motivation through the sum of scores reported from the 14 questions on the original survey which resulted in females showing a significant higher academic motivation (M=73.1, SD=7.12) compared to the male athletes. Also, quotations that were stated on the questionnaire such as, “I feel that it is important to maintain a high GPA”, “I make time to study outside of designated class time”, and “I know the due dates for assignments” were significantly higher for females rather than males. Lastly, a one-way ANOVA was used to determine the athlete’s plan after college graduation including four choices of obtaining a job related to degree of study, obtaining a job not related to degree of study, obtain a degree higher than four year degree, and other.

These results had a high correlation with current academic motivation in student-athletes resulting in those who had post-graduate plans were more motivated and willing to improve inside the classroom than those without a plan. The significant findings of this study may be attributed to the expectations put forth through society that women must obtain an education and special training to pursue a career in today’s world. Also, it is more likely that women will impress their positive behaviors and mindset in academic success on their teammates as compared to males who tend to care less about their academic achievements and easily becomes embarrassed in front of their peers. The importance of academia on the female population can affect the individual’s performance in the sport that they specialize in.

The participant that the researcher is studying may find that the academic demands that are associated with the athlete’s major of interest may impact the quality of effort put forth to prepare for competitions such as stretching, conditioning, or even adequate fuel through food in water. If the individual is stressed or overwhelmed with her school work load, inadequate care of oneself may be a factor on the decreased quality of life that the participant is experiencing. Role of Occupational Therapist in the Athletic Field Typically, when people think of sports rehabilitation and muscle injuries, they automatically relate to physical therapy. However, occupational therapy also plays a large role in an individual’s rehabilitation process before, during, and after engagement in athletics. It was found that injuries experienced in athletics can have a negative effect on the athlete’s performance as well as place acute or long-lasting limitations on the athlete’s overall independence.

Occupational therapists specialize in creating the best optimal quality of life for the patient and if they are not experiencing that, how can it be adapted so that they are most comfortable. An occupational therapist ideally wants to return that patient to the most optimal level of independence possible, which can be assessed and measured through FIM scores. FIM or Functional Independence Measure is an assessment that is used to measure the amount of assistance that the client requires to complete activities of daily living . In terms of athletics, occupational therapists can encourage the athletes to participate in more leisure activities and rest more frequently to give their body a break. They can also suggest certain modalities such as GameReady, Parraffin baths, and ice baths to relieve any pain that the athlete might be experiencing.

An occupational therapist aims to improve the individual’s overall quality of life and will focus on the aspects that are most affected by this individual. Division I athletes tend to have trouble with their social life due to the immense amount of training and games that they have. An athlete who is currently engaging in a sport or is currently retired and experiencing the pain and discomfort from the years of engagement in that sport can benefit from occupational therapy services to improve their overall quality of life. An occupational therapist can help the athlete cope with this frustration and discover alternative ways that they can be socially active within the university. Athletes also may struggle financially due to the inability to work during their season of sport. An occupational therapist can effectively aid an athlete in creating a budget sheet and financial plan to better deal with their finances rather than struggle with what they have.

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