Saturday, June 6, 2020

Cricket Ireland: Mark Rausa – How his sport science and medical team is managing during COVID-19 crisis

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DUBLIN – Mark Rausa, Cricket Ireland’s Head of Physiotherapy and Medical Services, has seen a lot in his career – but this current COVID-19 crisis has forced he and his team to be creative in what is usually – literally – hands-on work.

Rausa has over ten years of clinical experience working with elite level athletes, including at the Welsh Institute of Sport, the England Lions and Glamorgan County Cricket Club. He moved to Cricket Ireland in August 2018 to oversee the organisation’s sports science and medical services.

Speaking from his home where he is complying with the Irish Government’s social distancing protocols, Rausa was discussing what he would have been doing if the COVID-19 pandemic had not broken out:

“Right at the moment, the men should be in Zimbabwe preparing for a six-match series, where I would be engaged, and the women about to depart for Thailand for a Quadrangular tournament ahead of their World Cup Qualifier schedule for July 2. And in the weeks leading up to those tours, we would have been in the gym four days-a-week to physically prepare the players for each tour.”

“With injured players I would typically be modifying their Strength & Conditioning programmes to allow them to train without aggravating any issues they have. We don’t completely shut down players when they are injured – they will always be doing some form of exercise and fitness work whilst recovering.”

How is he managing to work with the players given such physical restrictions on movement and interaction?

“Given the current restrictions, I cannot visit players and do any form of manual treatment. So, it’s a real challenge with what we can do, especially from a physiotherapist perspective as it usually requires you to be in close proximity to your player/patient. Working with our Strength & Conditioning coaches Brendan Connor and Greg Hollins, we have provided our players with new home-based fitness programmes, and encouraged them to use equipment suitable for home use and running in open spaces close to home to get their aerobic work done.”

“We are fortunate at the moment as we don’t have a large number of players requiring heavy injury input, but we are managing a few issues remotely. I have been sending on home-based rehab plans to players and having some video call-based rehab sessions, which so far have been valuable.”

“I keep in touch with my science and medicine team on an almost daily basis, which is working out well on teleconferencing software and phone calls. These sessions are used to discuss where the players are according to their self-reporting and if we need to restrict or progress any part of their programmes or rehab. I am also keeping in touch with players myself via video call and phone. The players are also encouraged to call me anytime to discuss any issues they have.”

“So far things are working as well as they can. However, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, treatments and a great working environment as a group. At the moment we just need to think on our feet as how to keep our players motivated and competitive as it’s easy to feel isolated.”

“The players have remote access to our athlete monitoring system, and are required to score themselves on things like muscle and joint soreness, sleep quality and overall wellness. We get a pretty good gauge where the players are with this information – it allows us to modify any workload or flags that we may need to contact the player directly if we have any concerns to work through.”

“We are trying to take as holistic and inter-disciplinary an approach as possible. The programme we have in place is not just general health and fitness, but takes input from a nutritionist to make sure players are eating right, and input from psychology and mental health services.”

“This is key at the moment, not just from a performance viewpoint, but from an overall mental/emotional health viewpoint given the current circumstances. Our performance analysts have also been working hard to provide players with video of themselves and opponents to work through.”

Cricket Ireland and the Provincial Unions recently announced that the suspension of all cricket competitions under its auspices would be extended until at least 28 May 2020.

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