Making a name for athletic therapy 0
Sports are a big part of growing up. Weekends can be spent going from the arena to the field or the ball diamond as kids participate in practices, games, and tryouts.
But as the years go on, you begin to focus on your favourite sport. The sport you're best at, the sport you want to pursue past high school.
For Melanie Tuck, her sport was volleyball. She had trained and worked hard. All her effort brought her to one moment in university. She was at tryouts for the varsity women's volleyball team. They were in the final stages of cuts when Tuck injured herself.
She tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, commonly known as the ACL, and from that point on, knew she wouldn't be playing varsity volleyball for the University of Alberta.
During her recovery she got a first hand look at the work athletic therapists do. While Tuck had already been leaning towards a career in the field, her own injury gave her the opportunity to really get a sense of the sports medicine industry. She soon decided that becoming an athletic therapist was what she wanted.
Almost two decades later, Tuck has worked with various sports teams, college students. Now she owns and operates a sports medicine clinic in Red Deer, open to any athletes looking to get back on the field or ice.
"It's obviously very rewarding and it's exciting because (patients) have a vested interest, which is their own health and wellness, they want to be moving, they want to be recreating," said Tuck.
After teaching at Red Deer College for 15 years, Tuck finally decided it was time to start her own clinic, one that was open to any and all athletes looking for a little bit of relief. So in 2003 she opened Collegiate Sports Medicine and right away patients were knocking on the door to see Tuck and her staff.
"When I opened I had enough credibility that people (were coming in), I was very busy in my first few years so I brought in another athletic therapist right away," said Tuck.
From there the clinic grew and grew. Today, Tuck runs a clinic that provides patients with access to athletic therapists, physiotherapists, sports psychologists, and even a sport medicine doctor.
She has worked as the athletic therapist for the Central Alberta Buccaneers-who will be calling Lacombe's MeGlobal field home starting July 7-for the past 12 years.
June is National Athletic Therapy month in Canada and this year the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) is promoting injury prevention nationwide.
While athletic therapy isn't a regulated industry in Alberta yet, therapists in the province are looking to give their profession a boost soon as they await a reading in the legislature.
This is very important, said Tuck, who believes the profession needs more recognition for the work that it does in the athletic community.
"Athletic therapists specialize in mechanical assessment," said Tuck.
This means that they go beyond the basic diagnosis to find the root of the problem, evaluating the injury and movement patterns to prevent any further injury.
Take a baseball player for example. He has a tight shoulder, which in turn causes elbow pain when he throws. An athletic therapist will not only address the pain in the elbow but also look for a deeper problem, in this case, the shoulder, said Tuck.
This technique helps with treatment of the patients, who are usually dedicated athletes itching to get back into their sport. One of the mandates of her clinic is to teach the athletes about the injuries, passing on more information to the person directly affected.
"They don't just get treated, they're learning about (their injury) and getting better," said Tuck. "The knowledge that they gain will help with prevention."