Taking responsibility is key. Even if it wasn’t your fault. (Which it probably wasn’t completely – it’s not the straw that broke the camels back. Taking responsibility will help avoid any larger problems. When you step up and take the blame, they are likely to take some of it also. It is a shared responsibility.
Don’t be hard on yourself though…
What people do with the other hundreds of hours outside your session is not within your control. The way they sit, sleep and the other activities they participate in contributes to the potential for injury. There are a lot of people out there who need to be careful with exercise, because their body is already chronically over-stressed. It’s hard for the trainer to know all of the areas that are under tension without being a mind/body-reader!
Hopefully this was a good lesson for you.
It’s not always “XYZ exercise that caused the injury”. Many times it’s much deeper than we can really figure out.
I am sorry that u have 2 experience this, but it may b 2 ur benefit as u will gain valuable experience and b more prepared n the future.
Marlan listed some very important steps 2 take 2 protect yourself/business. Use this incident 2 caution self n the future against:
1) including exercises n wrkouts/routines that u personally have not done/used prior
2) not affording max attention 2 form, tempo & the person overall
3) always have some reminder or awareness of a person’s PRIOR/ON-GOING NAGGY INJURIES/MEDICAL SITUATION
4) ASK @ THE START & END OF SESSIONS “HOW ARE YOU!”
5) I developed my own pain scale which my clientele is very familiar with. It’s simple and direct, through it and personal observation I think I stay ahead of the problems(crossed fingers). Don’t know what u were doing n the session w/them but injuries CAN happen! With a lil more dilligence, try 2 make sure they don’t affect your business.
6) HAVE INSURANCE COVERAGE!!!!!!!!!!!
Did you have your client sign an informed consent? I ask this question because there ought to be wording in your informed consent that says there is a risk of injury engaging in physical activity.
I personally would want to know the mechanism of injury. How exactly did the injury occur? I would be curious as a consequence of Wolff’s Law. If it is truly an injury to the connective tissue and not DOMS then you ought to know that:
1. Connective tissue has a physiological limit. Your client may have very been engaged in a repetitive motion and finally reached that “physiological limitation” and injured him or herself. This is why I would want to know “how” the injury happened.
2. As fitness professionals we cannot ever know the integrity of our clients connective tissues and neither do they.
3. The injury could be a consequence of cumulative trauma.
4. Once you know the mechanism of injury, then you will be in a position to know whether you need to modify your program or keep it as it is.
All the best to you.
Marie-Pierre: Communication is the key here. Try not to be defensive, nor apologetic, but instead be direct and factual. Ask key questions as to what the client is experiencing so that this can help you, and the client, determine the difference between ‘injured’ and ‘post-exercise soreness’. I would recommend that the client go see his/her physician, and follow-up with you on the findings.
I think the best approach to take when a client complains of injury as a result of a session would be to:
1) Pull out the session notes for that session.
2) Gather as much information from the client as you can about the nature and the extent of the injury.
3) Cross-reference what you know about the injury with the exercises performed during the session.
4) Advise the client on RICE and proper use of NSAIDs if applicable and appropriate for the client.
5) Advise that the client see a qualified health care professional *refer!* immediately if the injury appears to extend beyond DOMS, which is commonly confused as injury for some clients.
6) Write a letter to the client’s physician(s) outlining the situation and what you think may have caused the injury. Provide the physician with as much relevant information as possible and request recommendations.
7) DO NOT have another session with the client until the issue is resolved and the client has been cleared by his/her physician for exercise.
By taking these steps, you minimize the risk of legal action under malpractice or negligence. You will also show your client how much you care! Don’t be afraid of staying in contact with the client’s physician(s). It shows more professionalism to address the issue head-on and work as closely as you can with the physician(s) in the best interests of the client than it does to have a client just go to the doctor and say “I got hurt in a session with my personal trainer.” Get out in front of the situation as much as possible, stay in contact with the client, and make sure that the client knows you’re there to help out in any way that you can *within your scope of practice*.