Wilbour Kelsick: We Are Family – The Olympic Family

We are family….all the practitioners and me..hey you all remember that sound from the 80’s song by Sister Sledge. This tune suits the vibe here at the Olympics. Yes, I am talking about the Olympic family. That’s the term the International Olympic Committee (IOC) uses to describe its organisation.  And I have to say that description by the IOC truly represents many aspects of the different groups at the Olympics. I can speak for the health practitioners group here.  We are a family.  The Olympics is the place where I meet many familiar faces and some new faces.  Some of the practitioners here I have known since the early nineties and connection at games like the Olympics is such a joyous feeling.  I really cherish these moments of reconnecting with colleagues from all over the world.

We greet each other with hugs, handshakes, high-fives or just hellos all with smile.  And believe me its not all smiles everyday since we get caught up in some of the athletes issues and misfortunes….hey we are all part of the team.  We say funny things to each other and give quotes of wisdom or as I see it quotes; Like my 6 foot 280 pound health practitioner friend from US…”Hey Wilbour what’s up this morning? Welcome to the Jamaican Olympics.”  And that was the morning before the Jamaican women 4×100 team messed up. But give them credit, track and field was a very strong showing for the Jamaicans. I like the Term the “Jamaican Olympics”.

The Olympics as I eluded to earlier is the place where I have met health practitioners all over the world (Russia, China, South Pacific, Australia, News Zealand, the Caribbean, Central South and North, Africa, the Middle East and the list keeps growing longer every year and at every Olympic games. The Cubans are great: I would say “Como Esta” ? Esta Bien would be the reply with a huge smile. I met a Cuban Orthopaedic  surgeon a few days ago.  He was the greatest to talk too. He is a man in his mid 70’s. Something about this persona got to me. I was drawn to him and found him so interesting to listen too. He spoke proudly of what he does and immediately gives me his business card and invites me to visit him when I visit Cuba again. Too bad I was on my way to look after an athlete otherwise I would have loved to spend more time with him at the University of Havana.

The practitioners at the games are all unique in their approaches to practicing health care and most of all I learn about their culture towards managing health issues in athletes.  This is the place where new faces pop up too; like the three new therapists from Trinidad & Tobago.  I enjoy meeting new people and getting their perspectives. It’s nostalgic for me and brings me back to my early days as a new practitioner in their shoes.  We all (Track and Field Junkies) have to learn the ropes. I try to help them not make the same mistakes we all make when we are new…like running across the track without looking…just a bit too excited.

As with our athletes, track and field practitioners are very competitive with each other but on many occasions we still help each other if help is requested. Like one new therapist who did not have a table at the track and our team allowed her to use ours; or someone who need some athletic tape or hot cream for muscles – that we can supply too. However that’s as far as it goes in the Olympics.  The Canadian practitioners are not allowed to treat other countries athletes because of malpractice insurance and some other reasons. However, we are allowed to share equipment and supplies if we can spare some. We also share ideas , techniques about managing injuries and rehabilitation concepts. The Olympics is one of my best international library resources – such human diversity in one place. I am privileged to have access to such invaluable human resource on health issues in athletes.

I recall the days when the warm up track at a track and field event was low tech and only limited diversity of practitioners (the conventional model-Medical doctors, physiotherapy). Now at the warm up track, there is such an additional diversity of health practitioners’ from Acupuncturist, sports chiropractors, Sports MDs, nutritionist , traditional Chinese medicine, Athletic therapists and the list goes on and on. There are now more treatment gadgets from light aluminum portable tables to warm and cold laser therapy, electrotherapy, cool water therapy etc. Track and field is a sport that has its own tunes and dances to its own rhythm.

The Olympic family continues to grow and I keep expanding my mind and soul to accommodate such a diverse and rich culture of people.

Peace, Wilbour

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