Chiropractic sports medicine is lauded as a necessary part of Team USAs and all countries’ medical staff
Many have fond memories of growing up watching the Olympics — whether we were cheering on the U.S. hockey team to beat the Soviets at the 1980 Winter Olympics, marveling at Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10 scores in gymnastics at the 1976 Summer Olympics, or watching Michael Phelps effortlessly swim his way to becoming the most decorated Olympian in history, the Games are part of our collective consciousness.
In fact, many of our current Olympians cite previous champions as their inspiration. Similarly, many DCs who chose to specialize in chiropractic sports medicine feel much the same way.
As we are shortly headed into the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, chiropractic sports medicine is repeatedly being lauded as a necessary part of Team USAs and all countries’ medical staff. As a result, many DCs may be wondering about the selection process to be part of the Olympics sports medicine team, how chiropractic can benefit these elite athletes, and what effort is being made to promote chiropractic care for Olympians.
The road to becoming an Olympic DC
The U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine Division comprises a wide range of health care professionals, including doctors, orthopedists, DCs, and massage therapists. All members participate on a volunteer basis, as part of an ongoing selection process. Chiropractors who wish to apply for a spot on the team must carry malpractice insurance, have no disciplinary actions against them, and currently practice sports chiropractic.
DCs who pass the application process will then be sent to one of three Olympic training centers to be evaluated on how they care for the athletes in training. During this evaluation period, DCs may also be sent to Olympic qualifying events or international games around the globe to work with the athletes.
Making the grade in chiropractic sports medicine at the Olympics
Throughout all of this, they are constantly being evaluated and tested for how well they work with not only the individual athletes, but also the coaches, other applicants, and health care providers who are already part of Team USA. Along the way, applicants are winnowed down, as only a limited number will make the final cut to be part of Team USA.
“Earning the appointment as USA Swimming’s team chiropractor at the Summer ’16 Olympics ranks as the greatest honor of my professional career, and it was an absolute privilege to serve our swimmers for over a month (during the training camps and the Olympic games) as a member of the medical support staff,” said Kevin Rindal, DC, one of six chiropractors in his family, and founder of InHealth Sports Injury and Performance in Seattle, speaking to Palmer College of Chiropractic.
“Nothing compares to the Olympic games — walking into the stadium at the opening ceremonies was electric, and I felt a great deal of pride representing Team USA as a chiropractor,” said Rindal, whose other international USA Swimming events have included the FINA World Championships, the Pan Pacific Games, and the Pan American Games.
Treating Olympic competitors
As you might expect, the majority of conditions that chiropractors treat at the Olympics will be related to sports injuries – strained or torn ligaments and joints, dislocated joints, or joint pain and stiffness. The goal is to not only properly treat the injury, but to allow the athlete to continue to compete in the Games, if at all possible.
However, DCs must be prepared to deal with almost any sort of medical issue, ranging from an allergic reaction to a bee sting, to insomnia from time changes, to travel-related GI issues. Furthermore, the medical team must be available to not just athletes, but also coaches, referees, support staff, and even attendees, should an emergency arise.
As part of an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of chiropractic in general, as well as the role it can play in keeping Olympic athletes in top form, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress will be placing a series of five commercials during the Summer Olympics, July 24-Aug. 9. Each 30-second ad, sponsored by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), will feature a former Olympic athlete discussing how chiropractic sports medicine helped improve their performance and ultimately shaped their decision to become a DC once they retired from sports.
For two weeks this summer, an estimated 204 million individuals will be watching the most elite athletes from countries all around the globe competing to see who deserves the gold medal. Of course, none of these athletes can win by themselves. They have an entire team to get them ready for their big day.
As the new ads from the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress will show, chiropractic sports medicine is an integral part of that team.