By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
A ground breaking plan to benefit athletes is underway across the greater Virgin Islands by founder and CEO of Therapy Works, Dr. Jerry Smith.
Dr. Smith who has been seeing and treating athletes across the Virgin Islands, recently returned from Monaco, attending an International Olympic Committee conference on injury prevention, representing the U.S. Virgin Islands Olympic Committee.
The conference was an important one, where Dr. Smith and his colleagues looked at what’s being done around the world to prevent sports injuries. He pointed out that some important studies are being conducted in Norway and Qatar in particular.
“They looked at hamstring as well as ACL injuries, those are two coming injuries,” Dr. Smith noted. “In the BVI it’s hamstring and groin injuries, those are the two most common things we see among our athletes. During baseball, softball season, I’ll see some rotor cuff type injuries but most of the year, we’re seeing soccer players and track and field athletes—those are the largest groups—so among them, those are the most common things.”
Dr. Smith is currently working with the USVI Olympic Committee, to create a network of practitioners, where they can create a system for all the athletes, regardless of where they live in the Virgin Islands or abroad. He said they’ll have a network what will take care of these athletes wherever they are and noted that the system can be done much easier in the BVI because all the athletes live in one place so that athletes can be taken care of at a much higher level.
The recommendation from the Monaco conference he said, is organizing an annual program where physical exams take place at a national level. There will be a formal system for every athlete recognized as a national athlete, organized by the national governing body and Olympic Committee, who would host it.
“You’d have your medical team in place, your standards, your policies, so that everything is uniform and done at a specific time in the year and all your athletes go through cardiac screening, general medical screening and then go through orthopedic or functional screening,” he explained. “They’re advocating several tests they’ve found to be reliable for screening things like hamstrings. The FIFA 11+, that’s one of the tools presenters used as their base and within that, is an exercise called the Nordic chair. You’re basically in a tall kneeling positon with one of your teammates holding on to the lower part of your leg and you go down into an eccentric or lowering type movement. That eccentric contraction of the hamstring, they have shown great results in the number of hamstring injuries being lowered.”
He added: “Going through screening type things to get baseline information on all athletes to see how they do on tests for concussions, hamstrings, agility and speed, so you have stored baseline information. You can track through an athlete development, how those baseline numbers change. When an athlete become injured, you also have that baseline information to make specific goals for that athlete to at least get back to where they were or to go beyond. You can see where deficiencies are, so that either on an individual or team level, you can structure their training to be able to account for deficits that individual or teams have in their performance.”
One of the things he’s working on establishing Dr. Smith said, is an injury surveillance program, something was first discussed in the Monaco conference and reiterated again.
“An injury surveillance program is those baseline numbers I mentioned before, but being able to track those numbers and how the athlete is doing throughout the year. The assessment is once a year, but dynamically, out of Norway, an app has been created that works on android or iphone and athletes have this app and they are required to log in once a week and report their readiness for sport, their level of training is at that time, their ability to perform if they had any injuries,” he pointed out. “There are four questions at the base of the survey and if the answer is yes, it opens up additional questions and based on the answers to those questions.
Those answers are funneled to a program administrator who looks at the answers, see what challenges the athlete have if any, and coordinate with the medical person in the team, that would be specifically able to help that athlete. They don’t wait for the athlete to report and go to the medial person, the medical person goes to the athlete and says ‘your reported this challenge, let me take a look and see what we can do.’ Then they would track to see what it is.”
There are many benefits Dr. Smith pointed out.
“You’ll have the big picture of what your national sport readiness is by individuals, by team and the whole country and you can see all the stats,” he noted. He said whatever that medical person sees they document on their side of the application, which becomes a medial chart for the athlete s through the lifespan of the athlete, you have their entire medical history.
“You know what’s going on with them, when something happened and you can easily figure out why,” he said.