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January 25, 2001 Student athletic therapists keep Stingers healthy




Student therapists

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj.

by John Austen

Players on Concordia’s varsity sports teams are benefiting from a program that sees students from the Department of Exercise Science get hands-on experience as athletic therapists.

Concordia is one of the few universities in the country to offer such a curriculum, and is one of only five schools accredited by the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association.

“In order become a certified athletic therapist, you have to go to a university like Concordia,” said David Paris, associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science.

“We send our second- and third-year students to do field work. More than 20 per cent of our internships stay right here at Concordia and help out the sports teams.”

The students will need 1,200 practical hours before they can write the exam for national certification, including at least 600 hours in the field; much of this experience can be gained here.

Head Athletic Therapist Ron Rappel supervises 18 students who are assigned to work with specific teams. It’s his job to make sure the therapists take what they’ve learned in labs and put it effectively into practice.

“The students get a true hands-on experience,” said Rappel. “If you do everything for them, they won’t learn. Our job is the overall wellness of varsity athletes and the support is great across the board. Our coaches and athletes really appreciate the work done by our student therapists, and our relationship with the Department of Exercise Science is great. Everyone has to be on the same page for this to work properly.”

The student therapists are responsible for such things as injury assessment and diagnosis, taping, and rehabilitation.

“We explain to the athletes that the student therapists are learning too,” Rappel said. “We rarely have any problems. It’s a situation where ultimately, everyone benefits.”
Men’s hockey coach Kevin Figsby says he’s a big fan of the program.

“I used Concordia student therapists when I coached the Lac St. Louis Lions midget team, and the kids do a fabulous job,” he said. “Our therapists with the Stingers fit in very well and the relationship is a confident one. I don’t overstep my bounds. Their job is to help and treat our athletes and my job is to coach. The athletic therapists are a big part of the Stingers hockey team.”

Martin Poirier is one of three students working with the hockey squad. He also works with the football team in the fall.

“It’s my job to put into practice what I learn in theory,” Poirier said. “It’s not just about reading books. There is nothing like hands-on experience.

“Some athletes can be scared when they get hurt,” he continued. “It’s our job to calm them down and get them back to health.”

During football season, Poirier will often arrive four hours before a game. With as many as 45 players in the lineup there are a lot of taping and other pre-game treatments to take care of.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s what I need to do to get certified,” said Poirier. “I love doing this, and that’s really important. It wouldn’t be for everyone.”

Athletic therapist Reg Grant, who deals mainly with the athletes’ strength and conditioning, says all the departments work together to make the internship program work.

“Exercise Science knows that their students helping us out is integral to the program,” he said. “Everyone is receptive. We all know we have jobs to do, and in the end, everyone benefits.”