PAN AM PROUD II (Winnipeg, 1999)
by Dr. Brian S. Seaman, DC, FCCSS(C), FICC
For athletes, there is no greater honour than representing
their country. As a chiropractor, there is no greater
honour than to be asked to represent your profession.
For the sports chiropractor, the proudest moment is
when you are asked to not only represent your profession,
but also your country at a major international event
such as the Pan American Games.
The Pan Am experience for Dr. Gordon
Partridge (Winnipeg) and me began in January 1999 when
we each received a phone call from Lois Pohlod (physiotherapist;
Calgary) who was the Chief Therapist for the Canadian
Pan Am team. She announced that we had been selected
as the chiropractors for the Canadian Health Team at
the 1999 Pan American Games.
Dr. Partridge is the chiropractor for
the mens and womens Canadian Volleyball
team which are based in Winnipeg. This turned out to
be quite an advantage for us as he was very familiar
with the injuries and past history of the volleyball
Also significant, was that for first
time a member of our profession was named to the Canadian
Core Health Team, for a major games event (ie. Olympics,
Pan Ams, Commonwealth) without an NSO (National Sports
The first step for both of us, was to attend a four
day orientation in Winnipeg which was scheduled May
13-16, 1999. This was organized by the COA (Canadian
Olympic Association), not only for the Core Health Team,
but also all the mission staff, coaches and team leaders.The
orientation was very enjoyable and provided an excellent
opportunity for all the members of the support staff
to get to know each other. I roomed with Aurel Hamran
from Edmonton who is the President of the Canadian Sports
Massage Association (CSMA) and has considerable experience
with the Canadian swim team.
The first afternoon (13/05/99) the medical
team, consisting of 35 health care professionals plus
a clinic manager, met. There was a basic introduction
to the concept of the core team as well as an opportunity
of briefly introducing ourselves to the group. A reception,
with all the members of the support staff was scheduled
that evening as well.
The following day (14/05/99), there was
a general session which was addressed by Dr. Alex Carre
who was the Chef de Mission of the Canadian Pan Am Team.
This was followed by a tour of a number of the competition
sites. On Saturday (15/05/99) the mission staff were
divided up into groups of approximately 12-15 people.
Each group went through eight different situational
scenarios which varied, from a doping incident, to a
missing athlete, to a noise incident in athletes village,
etc. With each of these situations, the facilitators
wanted us to think how each of our particular mission
group (ie. medical in our case) would react to this
(if indeed we were directly involved), or what our general
impressions would be. This was an excellent exercise,
and not only important as to developing a team concept
within the entire mission staff, but also making us
more aware of the roles which each of us would play
at a major games.
The formal sessions finished off Sunday
morning with a brunch with all the mission staff. It
was a great series of meetings which were very informative
and with the team concept being promoted throughout.
Although we were often referred to as the core "medical"
team the team has actually been re-named the core "health"
team due to the various health care providers who were
participating. For the Pan Am Games, the team eventually
consisted of 36 healthcare professionals as well as
a clinic manager. Originally there were six (6) medical
physicians (increased to seven (7) a couple of weeks
prior to the Games due to multiple event sites and scheduling
constraints). This included Dr. Ross Outerbridge who
was the CMO (Chief Medical Officer), an orthopedic surgeon
from Kamloops, BC and quite a photographer! As well
there were 21 therapists (physiotherapists and athletic
therapists) including Lois Pohlod who was the Chief
Therapist (CT). Some of the therapists were both ATs
and PTs. As for the massage therapists, there were six
At the time of the orientation, each
member of the health team was provided with a manual,
in which was a summary of the qualifications or certifications
which are required at major games. For instance, medical
doctors require a CASM (Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine)
diploma, the sports physiotherapists a Level 3 (now
known as a Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Physiotherapy),
and the massage therapists a CSMT designation (Certified
Sports Massage Therapist).
OFF TO WINNIPEG
Before we knew it, the day had arrived to leave for
Winnipeg. My day started out with a bang! When I got
to the Halifax Airport to pick up my ticket, the locator
number was incorrect and they could not find my ticket!
Finally, they managed to track it down and I was on
my way, along with Karen Decker who is a sports physiotherapist
in the Halifax area and the only other member of the
health team from Atlantic Canada.
Most of the health team arrived on Saturday,
July 17, 1999 to help finish setting up the clinic,
and get ready for the arrival of the athletes. Donna
Bell, who is the Executive Director of the Sports Medicine
Council of Manitoba, was the clinic manager. She did
a fantastic job keeping everything organized and all
the various health care providers in line. Donna had
also been the clinic manager for the Canadian Team at
the 1998 Commonwealth Games. After helping out in clinic,
the entire health care team went to "staging"
to receive our uniforms and kit bags. While in the athlete
village, each of us had to wear at least one part of
our Roots apparel along with our accreditation badges.
The Roots apparel is quite distinctive and Team Canada
certainly stood out in style!
LET THE GAMES BEGIN
On July 18th Dr. Partridge and I saw patients for the
first time and gradually became busier over the next
2-3 days as more of the teams and athletes arrived in
the village.On July 21st there was a reception for the
largest Canadian team ever (the athletes totaled approximately
620 along with support staff of over 220!). This was
held at Fort Gibraltar in Winnipeg. Over the first couple
of weeks, the temperature was quite hot averaging 32-35ê
Celsius most days and peaking at 39-40ê at times with
the humidity. That included opening ceremonies on July
23rd. This was an excellent experience (despite the
heat) and the timing of the Snow Birds fly pass, was
24th was the first day of competition. At the end of
the day, we were treated in the Canadian Medical Clinic
with a visit from Sharon Donnelly who won the Womens
triathlon. She brought along her gold medal to show
everyone. A beautiful design and surprisingly heavy!
Over the course of the Games, this became a common occurrence
with the majority of the athletes, who won medals, bringing
them into the clinic for everyone to see.
July 31st was our busiest day on top of
which, the Steve Vezina story hit the media. As everyone
now knows, the roller hockey goalies blood test
was positive for ephedrines, pseudoephedrines and very
high levels of steroids (Nandrolone). At his news conference
two days later (02/08/99) Vezina claimed that he last
used steroids in June 1999.
By August 6th and 7th, the clinic started
to slow down for all the health care providers as many
of the teams were leaving for other competitions and
a few world championships (ie. paddling, rowing, boxing).
Closing ceremonies were August 8th which again was a
tremendous experience especially with all of us being
invited onto the field to get a close up look at "The
Overall, the Pan Am experience was tremendous! Over
the 3 weeks Dr. Partridge and I had an excellent time,
a very good
experience with the athletes, and developed a great
rapport with all the other members of the health care
team. Both of us enjoyed the multi-disciplinary aspect
of the health care team and interprofessional referrals
were common. There is no doubt, that with a multi-disciplinary
team and especially at a multi-sport event (such as
the Olympics, Pan Ams or Commonwealth Games), it is
essential that each practitioner (regardless of profession)
realizes his/her role as a team player and not be an
individualist. Unfortunately certain incidents in the
past (some of which are still brought up), have hampered
chiropractics attempts to increase our role in
the sports field. Hopefully positive experiences, such
as the Pan Am Games, will help to demonstrate that chiropractors
are indeed an important part of the "team".
As for the skills required by a chiropractor,
one must obviously have good clinical skills and be
familiar with, and comfortable treating elite athletes.
One must also be able to work with other professionals
and not be concerned with an inevitable overlap of skills,
or philosophical differences. Clinic protocols are established
for reasons. Codes of Conduct and Guidelines have been
established by the CCSS(C), and should be followed.
Keep in mind, that every health care professional who
is a member of the team, is there because of their respective
levels of expertise and experience. There was seldom
a day which went by, that there was not an exchange
of information which in turn benefits not only the health
care team but more importantly the athletes. Remember,
we are there for the athletes!
It was also an excellent experience to
meet and treat many athletes on the Canadian team. There
is a wide range of ages competing for Canada, from teenagers,
up to the 40s and 50s (depending upon the
sport). The athletes have a very positive attitude towards
not only their sport, but life in general. Canada is
certainly very fortunate to have individuals of this
caliber representing our country both here and abroad.
Over the 3 weeks, Dr. Partridge and I
were kept busy treating individuals from at least 25
different teams and 21 sports, plus a number of the
mission staff. This number does not include Canadian
athletes who were treated at the Poly Clinic by the
PAGS (Pan American Games Society) chiropractors (organized
by Drs. Laurence Schledewitz and Mike Pleushow) or Drs.
Greg Stewart (Athletics/Track and Field), Brian Lecker
(Rhythmic Gymnastics) and Ken Mikkelson (Swimming) who
provided chiropractic care for their respective teams.
Overall, we had an excellent experience
and did not encounter any difficulties with any of the
health care providers. In particular, we felt that the
lines of communication were excellent with all the team
members and found working with Dr. Ross Outerbridge
(CMO), Lois Pohlod (CT) and Donna Bell (Clinic Manager)
to be a very rewarding and positive experience. In our
opinion the COA, Lois and Ross did an excellent job
putting together such a great health care team. It was
certainly an honour to be members of such a fantastic
group of professionals.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THANK YOU!
It truly was an honour for us to be asked to represent
chiropractic at such an outstanding event! We would
like to thank the College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences
(Canada) who purchased portable chiropractic tables
from Triumph Supplies for us to use in the Canadian
medical clinic. Shum Leung (President, Triumph) also
arranged to have the Canadian flag and "Team Canada"
embroidered into the thoracic piece of the tables. At
the end of the Games Dr. Partridge and I donated the
tables on behalf of the CCSS(C) to the medical mission
equipment of the Canadian Olympic Association for use
at future games.
Dr. Alex Carre (Chef de Mission) was
on hand to accept on behalf of the COA. This was very
well received by the COA with a number of their officials
and mission staff personally expressing their gratitude.
Dr. Partridge and I would also like to extend our deep
felt thanks to those chiropractors who have worked so
hard over the years to help develop the profile in the
field of athletics and sports injuries. Your efforts
were much appreciated not only by us, but most importantly
our Canadian athletes!
Originally Published in
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