Sports Therapy Graduate, Lewis Bulmer, has recently returned from a four week trip to York University, Toronto, Canada. Having graduated from York College, England, with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Therapy, Lewis fought off tough competition from fellow Graduates to win one of the two 2018 Society of Sports Therapists Student Travelling Scholarships awarded this year.
Dr Loriann Hynes, Assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science at York University, her husband, Chris, and their two daughters, Kenzie and Taylor, welcomed Lewis into their home for his stay in Canada. Lewis was based at the Sport Injury Clinic at York University, and he wrote to us half way through his trip to share his experience so far (if you didn’t manage to read it you will find it here: https://bit.ly/2ypy3J2).
Now that Lewis has arrived back in England, we caught up with him again to get some more insight into his trip and his thoughts on the experience as a whole.
Here’s what he had to say:
Firstly, I was amazed by the size of York University as a whole; with 55,000 students it really is massive. I suppose I really had no idea how big the universities are in Canada. Luckily the route to the Sport Injury Clinic where I spent most of my time was simple to follow. The facilities in the Clinic are great; everything you need to treat an athlete at any stage of their rehabilitation is there.
The main people I spent time with in the clinic were Clinic Manager Andrea, Clinic Supervisor Tracy, Head Athletic Therapist Britt and Research Co-ordinator Thomas, along with the Student Athletic Therapists. The 2nd and 3rd year students were working practically all the time and had to report to one of the supervisors every time they had a patient, mainly for feedback and questioning on treatments and rehab. This type of environment works really well for them, as it means they have constant interaction with student athletes and their injuries from day one, with even the 1st year students watching on.
What were the main types of injuries you had to deal with?
The most common injuries during my time there were ankle sprains, ranging from a simple sprain to full ligament tears. Alongside this, I came across knee and shoulder injuries too. I helped with the treatment and rehabilitation of these on a daily basis, each one being a new challenge every time.
I had the chance to meet one great individual called Kaleb*, who plays ice hockey. He is very well known in Canada and is an inspirational person too. I saw him a few times and worked on his ankle and shoulders; he is the most kind and polite person I have ever met.
Have you learnt any new skills from working with the Athletic Therapists? How was your taping when you arrived and how is it now?
In the UK I had not seen much passive stretching used as treatment or pre-match, so I have learnt more about stretching techniques from the Athletic Therapists in Canada. The use of electrical modalities was interesting to see too, as well as learning why they would use them with certain injuries. I have also learnt more mobilisation skills which will help me further in my work as a Sports Therapist.
My taping has also improved dramatically. I have learnt so many different techniques and have now finally tidied up my taping. I was involved in a seminar that was about taping and Ron O’Neil, former Athletic Trainer with the New England Patriots, delivered the session; his taping was amazing. I learnt a lot from him and have taken a lot of these techniques away with me.
The terminology used in Canada was very similar to what I was used to, however some of the assessment processes were different. I came across a lot of different special tests for assessing, for example the hip, and the clinic was a great learning experience for me.
Did you get to work with many teams?
The most popular sports at the University were Canadian Football (Grid Iron) and Ice Hockey; these two sports, especially ice hockey, are huge in Canada. I was mainly based at the Clinic during the day, while in the evening I joined the Football team at training for 2-3 hours per night. Then I spent the afternoons of the last two weeks with the Ice Hockey team. Clinic was usually before training and then I would travel over with the Athletic Therapists to set up and get ready for training. The days were long and busy but worth it for the experience and I enjoyed every minute of it. I spent a lot of my time alongside the Student Athletic Therapists who were placed with those teams each day; I got to know them and found myself integrating well.
Were there any adjustments you had to make culturally when you got to Canada?
In terms of cultural differences, I found Canadians driving on the right hand side of the road weird and tried to get used to that! Also having Thanksgiving was totally new, something which I have never experienced before, and ended up having it twice! I had it with both sides of the Hynes family so I got to meet most of the family during that time. They made me feel so welcome all the time, it was great.
I tried poutine (chips, gravy and cheese curds), which is really nice! I have to say the Hynes family cooked up some of the best meals I’ve had, such as boiled dinner and chicken wings, which I will miss. Plus Tim Hortons coffee and donuts are to die for, which is another thing I will miss, especially the TimBits (a bitesize version of traditional donuts). Then I got to try Ice Wine near Niagara. This wine is very sweet but tastes amazing; I’m not a wine drinker usually but the wine in Canada is great!
What was the highlight of your trip?
The main highlight has got to be having the chance to go to visit the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on a match day and meet the therapists, players and other staff as they worked. They were all so welcoming and made sure I was OK when helping out. I got to go pitch side too during the match which was the best experience I’ve ever had. After the game, I had the chance to look at ultrasound imaging of the players by the Sports Medicine Team which was interesting to see. Alongside this, I have to mention the National Ballet of Canada with Paul Papoutsakis (Company Athletic Therapist), who let me treat some of the dancers, along with watching some of their rehearsals and seeing what the dancers put their bodies through. This was incredible.
What was your biggest challenge during the experience?
The biggest challenge was to integrate myself within a new environment and country. Going to Canada was a massive challenge for me personally, to step out of my comfort zone and go for every opportunity placed in front of me. At first it was challenging to integrate with the students and with a new environment, but the students helped me feel welcome, especially in the team environments, making sure I was OK and asking me plenty of questions which was nice. It took me a few days to settle in but I overcame my fears and made sure I got the most out of the experience.
You were hosted by Dr Loriann Hynes and her family – how was Canadian family life?
Canadian family life was great. Loriann’s family were very welcoming and had me settled in straight away. They made sure I had everything I needed at all times. The family are very busy and active with soccer and ice hockey every week and I got to watch a couple of Kenzie and Taylor’s (Loriann’s two daughters) training sessions. It was great at the weekends to sometimes relax and watch sport on TV with Chris too.
Did you fit in any more sightseeing in the last part of your trip?
During my time off, I did get to go sightseeing. I went into Toronto for the day to see the aquarium and look around the shops and bars they had there. I even got the chance to go and watch the Toronto Blue Jays (Baseball), Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League) and Toronto FC (Soccer); the atmosphere at these games is so different to the UK.
Now that you’re back in the UK, have you started working again with the York City Knights?
Since coming back I have been very busy catching up where I left off. I have had meetings at the York City Knights (Rugby League) to begin the process of starting work there as a Sports Therapist in November. We are already implementing new ideas and processes to make the medical side of the club great, as well as starting to bring in students to experience a team environment. I am very excited for this opportunity and I have to thank the players and the staff at the club for giving me the opportunity to prove myself and represent The Society of Sports Therapists in Rugby League. I may be travelling back to Toronto again as a Sports Therapist for the match against the Toronto Wolfpack which will be interesting!
Do you have any advice for Third Year students thinking about applying for the opportunity next year?
To any Final Year students thinking about applying for this amazing opportunity: just do it! You have to go for it because it will improve your confidence as a Sports Therapist after completing an undergraduate degree. It is scary when you first graduate, not knowing what you want to do next maybe or what direction to take. This experience will help you look at different perspectives on Sports Therapy and sport in general, with the help of many professionals who have had experience in a clinic and team sport setting.
I would like to thank Andrea, Tracy, Britt and Thomas for their amazing support and help with my learning and integration into the Clinic, as well as my development as a Sports Therapist. The team there are amazing. Alongside the team, I have to thank the students for helping me settle in well at the Clinic, especially David, Brian and Kyle who are the three 3rd year Student Athletic Therapists I met during my time with Football and Ice Hockey. They helped me feel more welcome within the team environment and they are great Student Athletic Therapists, from whom I learned plenty. When I spent time in classes, the two lecturers at the University, Gus and Michael, helped me learn more about the theory and implementing this in practical use, so I would like to thank them too.
Finally I cannot thank Loriann, Chris, Kenzie and Taylor enough for having me in their home. They are an amazing family and have great personalities. They did everything they could to make me feel at home and wanted to help me as much as possible. I hope to keep in contact with them and wish them well in the future.
Also The Society of Sports Therapists has been great in this whole process – the opportunity is amazing and it helps promote the profession as a whole. Thank you to Professor Graham Smith and the Society for giving me this experience, which I will use both personally in my work and to help promote Sports Therapy in sport and beyond.
Professor Graham Smith, Chairman of The Society of Sports Therapists, said:
‘The Society of Sports Therapists is extremely proud of its links with York University in Toronto and the opportunities it has now given two of our Graduates over the last couple of years. As you can see from Lewis’ report, the opportunities offered and experience are priceless and I therefore would specifically like to thank the staff at the School of Kinesiology and Health Science Athletic Therapy Department for all of their hard work and support for this project. It was also great to hear how Lewis fitted in and impressed in such a quiet, unassuming and knowledgeable way.
I would particularly like to thank Dr Loriann Hynes for everything she has done to make both this opportunity happen and for her friendship, both personally and for the Society. It has been a privilege to be associated with such a great university.’
*Kaleb Dahlgren is indeed an extraordinary person who earlier this year escaped death but suffered life changing injuries whilst travelling with his then Humboldt Bronco team mates to an ice hockey game. Kaleb is indeed a remarkable person and we can fully understand why Lewis was so inspired by him.