Missions to Armenia Overview

Missions to Armenia Overview

by evergreenpt, August 25, 2017

From left to right: Beate Carriere, PT, CIFK, NDT; Nick Tavoukjian, MS, ATC, CSCS, TSAC-F ; Carlos Roel PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS

Written by Tabitha Wang

Earlier this month, three of our Evergreen staff traveled to Armenia with the Armenian American Sports Medicine Coalition to provide education and hands-on patient care instruction to sports medicine and rehabilitation professionals and educators.   Nick Tavoukjian, our athletic trainer here at Evergreen, graduated from Azusa Pacific University’s Masters in Athletic Training program in 2016.  He founded the AASMC in 2017, with the mission to provide sports medicine and rehabilitation treatment and education to Armenia, as well as advocating for safe sport participation within the local Armenian American community here in Southern California.

Nick’s passion for Armenia began when he took part in an Armenia mission trip with Athlete’s in Action in March of 2016. He lectured at the Armenian State Institute of Physical Culture and worked with youth soccer teams alongside leading professionals in the field.  In later trips, Nick visited soldiers in the hospital who had suffered from spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, using both his skills as an athletic trainer and his heart to share his faith. Seeing the great need for specialized rehabilitative care in Armenia and a need for athletic training in the Armenian American community at home, Nick started AASMC in the hopes of serving and meeting the needs of both communities.

Beate is one of our amazing therapists who splits her year between Pasadena and Lübeck, Germany. Currently working in Germany, Beate met with Nick and Dr. Roel at a cafe in the Moscow airport before they continued on their last leg of the journey to Armenia. Like Nick, both Beate and Dr. Roel have huge hearts for aiding people and different organizations around the world with their skills as physical therapists.

 

            

One of the team’s first patients was a soccer player participating in an international soccer tournament.  He had dislocated his elbow during play earlier in the week and saw Nick and his team for treatment everyday for a full week following his injury.  The middle photo shows the patient receiving cup therapy and trigger point release techniques to improve range of motion and in the last photo Dr. Roel utilizes Muscle Aid Tape on the patient’s arm to reduce swelling. In addition to these treatments, the team also reshaped the patient’s splint, provided him with a more comfortable sling, and implemented lymph drainage massage to further reduce swelling.

Being able to provide this specialized care for this athlete was rewarding and one part of the reason the team was in Armenia.  Doctors and other medical staff who work in sports medicine or rehabilitative care in Armenia do not necessarily have the same access to the specialized training in these areas that providers in the U.S. do so, Nick was eager to share with them the knowledge of his team.

 

         

Nick lecturing and demonstrating how to evaluate, rehab, and return a patient to sport after an ACL repair or athletes with sacroiliac joint dysfunctions.

 

Beate demonstrates exercises on the swiss ball to providers and spoke on functional treatments of the neck, shoulder, thoracic spine and ribs.  She also gave a lecture on kinesio taping techniques and provided hands on practice.  Each provider that attended was given free rolls of kinesio tape thanks to a generous donation by Muscle Aid Tape!

 

         

Dr. Roel spoke on spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries that were especially prevalent among the soldiers the team treated at the Mikaelyan Outpatient Surgery Center.

One such patient, Avetis, was introduced to Nick back in July of 2016. He had lost the use of his biceps after a gun shot wound that innervated a section of his cervical spine, but could still use his wrists and hands.  Nick and his team worked with Avetis and his therapists to engage in active methods of treatment. For example, they taught Avetis how to roll onto his side and weight-bear on his forearm and elbow as opposed to passive rolling where the workers facilitate the movement.

Nick with Avetis in the donated harness that the AASMC brought, working with him to weight-bear on his lower extremities.

 

        

Beate performing swiss ball exercises with another patient, David; The AASMC team with patients and therapists at the Mikaelyan Outpatient Surgery Center’s Rehabilitation Wing.

The AASMC team at Mikaelyan Outpatient Surgery Center’s Rehabilitation Wing.

Not pictured here, are the team’s visit to the Muratsan Military Hospital where they provided necessary education on how to properly transfer patients, used Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation techniques, and donated two sets of forearm crutches and two gait belts.

 

Already thinking ahead to their next trip, Nick and the AASMC hope to aid the Yerevan State Medical University in enhancing the curriculum to their sports medicine, physiotherapy, and kinesio therapy programs to incorporate a more well-rounded and multidisciplinary approach. In addition, they are hoping to find ways to help the Armenian National Paralympic Committee in the education of paralympic team coaches and sports medicine staff regarding athlete classifications and disability specific strength training and conditioning guidelines.

For now, Nick will continue to work on bringing together a network of providers and sports medicine professionals to not only continue to make positive changes in Armenia, but also in the Armenian American community here.  He hopes to make certified athletic trainers a standard fixture in local schools that have athletic programs to treat student athletes on and off the field and work to prevent sports related injury and illness. Nick also assists schools in developing elective courses to provide students who are interested in the sports medicine field with basic sports medicine and exercise science concepts.

 

         

After two hard weeks of work, Nick and the team enjoy some much needed R&R in 105 degree heat and devoured lots of delicious Armenian Cuisine.

 

If you’d like to know more about the AASMC, you can visit their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/AASMCoaltion and follow them on Instagram @AASMCoalition.

 

Originally published on August 22, 2017.

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