By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Dr. Jerry Smith, founder and CEO of Therapy Works, sees the need for a network of Caribbean practitioners for international sports, which will be a benefit to the region’s athletes.
Dr. Smith who has been in international sports for the last 10 years and travels with the U.S. Virgin Islands Olympic Committee, said he has noticed, that in smaller countries, there’s a limitation on the number of accreditations they are able to obtain, based on countries having small teams.
He said because of this, small countries end up having very limited medical teams. “Some countries won’t have any at all and some will have one. Then you’ll have to choose which aspect of the medial team you want to go with,” pointed out Dr. Smith, who’s currently working on establishing a cohort of local practitioners and setting up an athlete injury surveillance program within the Virgin Islands. “Do you want to take a physician, a physio, a massage therapist, a nutritionist, a sport psychologist, a nutritionist or chiropractor because those are all part of a medical team. If you only have 6-8 athletes, you might only have one medical credential.”
He added: “What I would love to see, is for us to create a network of Caribbean practitioners, where we can put together medical teams that can treat the entire region or within the group. We would get together with say, St. Kitts-Nevis, Dominica, Anguilla, whomever that would be willing to join in this cohort. You get Memorandum of Understandings on how you would treat certain types of scenarios. That way, countries can bring their medical credentials into the group and then we as a group can put together a medical team that can serve the entire region and not just trying to get to serve one country and then you’re missing all the other components.”
Such a plan Dr. Smith says, has lots of great benefits. The main benefit he pointed out, is that every athlete from every country, would have access to all the specialties.
“Say for example, if we are at the Olympic Games, we would ask the Local Organizing Committee to put all the medical tents for track, for swimming, for other sports to have them side by side, so when athletes are in their preparation, they come to one section of the of the prep area where the Caribbean medical team is, which is the cohort of all the other countries in the group, and they would have access to sit and talk to a sport psychologist before their event that Dominica brought,” he explained. “Or, they can go and see a chiropractor from Trinidad and Tobago, or see a physio from the Cayman Islands. So we would have lots of expertise in multiple areas that all of the athletes from within the group would have access to and not have to go outside of their comfort zone.”
This Dr. Smith said, can be done at varying levels for specific sports or at regional events like the Central American and Caribbean Games or the Pan Am Games.
“Not just looking at the Olympic level, but all the levels that lead up to it, all the regional type games or competitions that are either multisport or single sport, that benefits everybody,” he said. “Really, you have one goal. Your goal is to support your athletes and give them the best opportunity to perform at the highest level possible, and this I find, is one of the key components missing from being able to achieve that.”