Introducing Nathan Mill - Head of Sports Medical at St Helens R.F.C
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at St Helens
My role as Head of Medical Services at St Helens focusses on our medical approach to managing player welfare, mitigating risk of injury, maximizing player performance and most importantly working as part of our multi-disciplinary team. Outside of work making time to spend with my family is extremely important to me, especially considering the challenge of working in elite sport.
What are the most common injuries you tend to see?
The most common injury we see is concussion, followed closely by ankle sprains and hamstring injuries.
Concussion is a real issue across many sporting codes, including rugby. Can you share your thoughts on this and how this is managed at the club?
Firstly, I feel the progress in research in this area is excellent and the subsequent developments in identification and management of concussion have enabled improved athlete care. We employ protocols set out by our governing bodies medical standards (rugby football league) and work closely with all members of our medical and performance team to assess an athletes recovery from concussion and ensure a safe return to play.
How has KT360 been integrated into your existing testing and training programming?
We are currently performing research and development to try and answer uncertainty around neck strength and a possible predisposition to concussion. We use the KT360 to run a neck isometric strength profile to collect data on our athletes.
Which protocols on the KT360 have you utilized in pre-season and during this season and how will this data help?
Standard protocols we use are prone claw for hamstring monitoring and groin squeeze for adductor/ groin monitoring. These are performed with selected players we deem “legacy” players having previously sustained injuries in these areas. They are then tested prior to our high speed and volume session, respectively.
What have you been able to improve since partnering with KangaTech and using KT360?
It has improved our ability to recognize potential fatigue/pathology and reduce the risk of further injury. Although data IMO can be over used and under utilized the KT360 has offered objective clarity including asymmetry differences, pain on contraction or general strength reduction. This would flag and provide an opportunity for positive intervention. If an intervention is unsuccessful a player may be modified to mitigate risk.
What were the main reasons/key drivers for you taking on KT360?
Add to our actionable data to make greater informed decisions. There are a huge amount of different areas of the body that can be tested meaning more opportunity to inform practice including criteria for rehabilitation progression. The robustness of the machine alongside the validity and reliability testing increases its meaningful impact on our practices.
What are your go to resources for relevant industry events, research and inspiration?
Generally we work as a team to find research that pertains to recent practice e.g. a recent injury one of our players may have sustained. I am very lucky to work in a team that we are all very driven to grow so there is always someone bringing something new to discuss. My personal favorite places for information is probably twitter where I find there is plenty of free resource and content to engage with. I have recently completed an MSc in High Performance Sport, the cohort, tutors and available literature through their online portal is vast. I really enjoy just having conversations with people even if they don’t work in my field. People can offer so many pearls and diversity of these influencers I feel has really helped me.
Congratulations on the clubs recent Championship win! What is your focus for the coming season at the Saints?
Focus is always to provide the best for the players to allow them to perform at their best and hopefully this results in collective success