Teaming With Titans

Michel Blanchette, DC
January 02, 2008
Written by Michel Blanchette, DC
Chiropractic is no longer a myth for junior hockey.
36What do Francois Beauchemin of the Anaheim Ducks and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Ca-nucks have in common?  They both played for the Titan D’Acadie-Bathurst, our local Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) team, in Bathurst, in 1998-99. 

Today, I participate as a member of the medical team for the Titan D’Acadie Bathurst.  One of the questions I am often asked, by my colleagues, is how did I come to be involved with this team?

I remember back in January 1999 when Jules Eddie Laraque, who was one of the favourite players that year, was injured as a result of a concussion. He was not able to skate on the ice, or practise with the team for four weeks.  

The trainer, at the time, called me and asked if I could see Laraque. I did a consultation, as well as a physical and radiological examination, and determined that his headaches were cervicogenic. After three treatments, there was a major improvement, and I was able to authorize Laraque to return to the ice to practise and play.

I remember his first game back after his injury – it was an important game against Moncton. He scored two goals during that game and we beat Moncton two-to-one. I am still very emotional just thinking about it! The fans were excited to see him back in the game and they were all cheering him on.

 The week following this memorable victory, the team’s owner contacted me and invited me to become a member of the Titan D’Acadie’s medical corps. As far as I know, I am the only chiropractor that is officially on the medical team in the league. Some of the teams use chiropractic services but the chiropractor is not part of the “medical team”.

The rest of my first season with Titan D’Acadie was incredible! The team went on to win the QMJHL President’s Cup championship.

And, at times I had seven or eight players in my office waiting for treatments!
 
CHIROPRACTIC INVOLVEMENT WITH JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUES 
Two factors have to be present in order for a chiropractor to become involved with a JMHL:  the owner of the team has to understand the value of chiropractic care and the team athletic therapist has to be willing to collaborate with the chiropractor, and refer when it is appropriate.

 The medical team that I belong to also includes an orthopedic surgeon, a physician and a dentist.   It is up to the athletic therapist to refer to the appropriate professional. 

At this level, most of the injuries that I see are acute injuries involving the spine. Lately, I have been seeing many more concussion injuries.  In a number of cases, the concussion results in injuries to the upper cervical spine, often resulting in headaches.”

I remember the case of a player who began having headaches during a game, last year. He had sustained a concussion about a month before.  He couldn’t finish the game because the severity of his headache.  Once again, it turned out that the headaches he was experiencing were cervicogenic in nature – they were actually due to upper cervical joint dysfunction.”

I use motion palpation to determine where to adjust the spine. Spinal manipulation is my primary approach to the treatment of my patients, but I also use  trigger point therapy, Trigenics and some craniosacral therapy. 

As the team’s chiropractor, I attend most of the games. Before seating myself in the stands, I make a trip to the dressing room to check with the therapist and find out if there are any player injuries that I can help with.  If the players are in good shape, I take my place among the spectators but game security is alerted of my whereabouts in the event that the therapist requires my services.
 
JUNIOR HOCKEY BRINGS RECOGNITION FOR CHIROPRACTIC
The names of each member of the medical team are announced at the beginning of each game. It is good, from a public relations point of view, that there is a chiropractor on the medical team.

Bathurst is a small city of  16,000 people with a surrounding population of about 20,000 people. The city itself is about 50 per cent francophone and 50 per cent anglophone, while the surrounding area is mostly franco-phone. 

I have been practising here since graduating from CMCC in 1978 and I am mostly interested in chronic pain. Working with a junior hockey team is interesting and challenging. The team wants results - they don’t care about your philosophy, or which school you graduated from.

If chiropractors continue to work with hockey teams, either at the professional, or junior, level, this will be  a boost to the credibility of the profession. And this will eventually lead to greater utilization of our services by the population.•

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