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Vol 39  No 12
Apr. 5, 2007


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Athletic therapy program fills a need

Handling with care
by David Sorensen


Megan Conroy, a second-year Phys Ed student and volleyball player with the Sea-Hawks, gets treated for an Achilles injury by Athletic Therapist Shauna Stone Fury.
(Photo by David Sorensen)

Things are starting to slow down for Shauna Stone Fury. Memorial’s first athletic therapist receives the occasional client, a varsity athlete recovering from any of a number of nagging injuries – a volleyball player with a tender Achilles, a runner with a sore knee. It’s a far cry from the spring when Ms. Stone Fury was juggling treatment for volleyball players, wrestlers and others, along with getting the women’s basketball team through the Atlantic and Canadian championships with just nine players.

“By the end we were doing a lot of preventative taping, some days taping ankles twice a day,” she explained.

She said the experience of the women’s basketball team – which became the first to win a medal at the national championships, taking a bronze – is an example of the game preparation benefits of an in-house athletic therapy program.

The first year of an athletic therapy program in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation has been judged a success by all involved.

Dr. Mary Bluechardt, director of the school, said with the co-operation of the coaches, Memorial’s student athletes are getting the treatment and care they need and deserve.

Ms. Stone Fury said being available to treat athletes is just one component of the athletic therapy program. She provides emergency care for athletes injured during a game or match and provides follow-up treatment in her modest clinic in the Phys Ed Building.

The program also has an educational component, with 17 volunteer student trainers involved in the program this year, most of whom intend to pursue careers in health professions.

Ms. Stone Fury also teaches a third-year kinesiology course; care and prevention of athletic injuries.

But there’s much more to athletic therapy than taping ankles and stretching sore muscles, she said.

She works with coaches to ensure the athletes’ technique won’t cause injury; she’s bringing in dieticians to ensure they are eating properly for top-level athletes; and she encourages the athletes on Memorial’s 11 varsity teams are making their physical health is a year-round priority.

“There hasn’t been anyone full-time on campus working specifically with the varsity athletes,” she said. “So now it brings us all together – the coaches, the athletic administration – so that we have a good idea what’s going on with all the athletes.”

And it’s not just the big-name sports that get the attention of the athletic therapist. Ms. Stone Fury believes athletes from all sports need and deserve the services offered.

“That’s one thing I loved when I looked back on the year, is that I saw people from every single team,” she said.

Ms. Stone Fury said she always wanted to work as an athletic therapist. After an undergrad degree at Saint Mary’s University, the Halifax native went on to Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., where she completed a three-year therapist program.

After certification, she moved to Mount Allison University, where she served as head athletic therapist for three years. She moved to St. John’s when her husband was transferred. She started volunteering part-time with the varsity teams shortly after arriving. Then came the proposal for the pilot project, which began in January 2006.

Michelle Healey, Memorial’s director of athletics, said having the athletic therapy program in place has been a huge step forward for the varsity program.

“The service is highly appreciated and welcomed by our athletes and Shauna has done an amazing job of getting our clinic up and running, building a student trainer program, work with coaches on education, working with local specialists to co-ordinate consults,” said Ms. Healey.

Dr. Bluechardt said that much of the success of the program has to be directed towards the person running the program.

“One determined, passionate person can make a significant difference,” she said. “That is what Shauna has done. She has really gone beyond what I would have ever expected.”

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