Clark State’s Dana J. Matt, academic coordinator of clinical education, got some additional hands-on experience last month at the 2015 National Football League Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“The NFL scouting combine is a group of 325 college athletes who are preparing for the NFL draft,” said Matt, who is also an assistant professor for Clark State’s Physical Therapist Assistant program. “The athletes are selected for the Combine based on their collegiate football performance.”
Matt was one of only six physical therapists and athletic trainers on hand to perform isokinetic strength testing with the athletes. “Isokinetic strength testing is a way to quantify someone's strength and power,” she said.
Trainers and therapists use the CSMi Humac Norm machine to complete quadricep and hamstring testing on both legs. “The machine ‘matches’ the athlete's strength to make them move at a prescribed speed to analyze their strength and power,” Matt said. “Basically, the NFL is using this tool to make sure the athlete's strength is equal from their right leg to their left leg, and that their strength is within the expected range based on their body weight and football position. They are also making sure that any athlete with a prior injury has fully rehabilitated that injury, with a return of their strength.”
Matt was first invited to the NFL Combine nine years ago based on her experience with the Humac Norm machine at Kettering Health Network. She has been able to participate for eight of those years and this year completed about one-third of the tests on athletes. Matt said isokinetic testing has been done for years, but the equipment has become more advanced. “Although this testing is not something we do as part of the PTA program at Clark State, my students are always excited to hear about my experience, and regularly tell me they are happy to hear about the opportunities available in the field.”
Of course, working at the NFL Combine has other perks as well. While the event is private—only for players and professionals—Matt enjoys sharing her experiences with her son, a high school sophomore, who aspires to play college football. “Many times, he has one specific player he would like me to talk with at the Combine,” said Matt. “In recent years, those players have included Robert Griffin III, Denard Robinson and Marcus Mariota.”
Matt said she enjoys working with such high-level athletes at the NFL Combine and will continue to participate as long as she is invited. “It is an honor to be part of a select group invited to participate in the Combine.”