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Miracle Story

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Dr Jamie Laws
Toronto
Ontario
Canada

He Won Olympic Gold

Submitted into: Miracles of Sport Category,

On: 2013-02-11 02:10:37

The story I want to share is has to do with a Canadian athlete on the men’s rowing team for Seoul, 1988. He had been part of the crew that won a gold medal in Los Angeles in 1984 and this crew was favoured to go on and win the gold medal in Korea.  About six weeks before the crew was going to go to Seoul, this particular athlete had injured his lower back in a boat. Initially he had been advised that if he just took some time off that the back would probably settle down that it was just very bad muscle spasm.  The short story is that it wasn’t okay. At that time I was treating a number of athletes from the Canadian team and their training centre then was in St Catherine, Ontario.  They would come up from St Catherine periodically to see me, be adjusted and be treated chiropractically.


When this particular athlete was not making the kind of recovery he should make his team mates suggested that he come to see me, and he did.  The medical staff had said they really did not think he would not be able to compete in Korea. For someone who has been training for four years in order to compete in Olympics, to have someone say “were sorry but our considered opinion is that your just not going to be able to do it” was devastating.


At that point people start to look for alternatives. It’s not that they haven’t already tried things but the things they tried have not worked so they start looking to see what else might be possible. The injured athlete was driven to me by one of the other athletes I was taking care of. I said that he must be prepared to spend the day in my practice.  


I started by seeing him in the morning for a thorough consultation and examination. I saw that more X-rays should be taken and arranged to have that done. Essentially I started by looking at what needed to be done in order to correct the problem, not just for his low back but with the mechanical problems that existed elsewhere in his spine. This athlete was not the kind of person who simply had one problem area that was subluxated, one area that was mechanically not functioning the way it was meant to function.  As a consequence I saw him six times during the course of the day to make corrections and build one treatment on top of the other.  


Normally in typical health care settings, you would not see somebody many times in the same day.  Athletes are concerned with what makes the difference in terms of getting well and training at their best again.    The second day he came in again and I saw him several times that day. 

By the third day, his improvement was so good that he was actually able to get down into the boat and sit in the boat. That does not mean he was pain free and it does not mean he was able to start rowing yet but it was a signal that there was a very significant recovery because posturaly he was able to assume the kind of position that he had not been able to assume for over four weeks. 

So, at that point we continued to treat him very aggressively in terms of the frequency of care and the length of time we spent on him each visit.  


The miracle is that he was able to go to Korea and he was able to compete for Canada and he was able to do what he needed to do, and that in itself is a miracle and a great success story.  But it leads to the second part of the miracle because as the result of doing that the Canadian rowing team asked me if I would go to Korea to be the team chiropractor for their rowing team.  


I think that often miracles are things that you expect will happen.  When I went to Korea and was looking after the Canadian rowing team, I was in the rowing base one day.  There were not many people there but there was an American quad crew training and one athlete got his finger jammed quite badly. He had dislocated the finger and had torn a fingernail out of its’ bed, which is incredibly painful.  If you can imagine somebody who has to hold on to an oar, and pull with the oar, this is something that needs to be attended to fast.  


They had already reached the point in the competition where he could not be substituted for even if he was injured.  Now you are not just affecting one athlete, you are affecting the entire crew.  I was the only person at the base at that time who had the kind of training that could  be of help.  I told the athlete that certainly there would be some pain involved but that was I prepared to reduce the dislocation and re-insert the nail bed if that what he wanted me to do.  With his permission, I then went ahead and treated him.  I then applied pressure to the finger and packed it on ice. We made arrangements for him to be taken back to the main Olympic village to see the doctors with USA team.


  The story gets better because he was able to hold an oar and he was able to compete in the finals at the Olympic Games in Korea. His team won the bronze medal.  At the medal ceremonies, he came and sought me out to show me the bronze medal.  So, those kinds of exciting things happen in sport. Sure, they also happen in everyday life, but when they happen in an Olympic games it’s a huge miracle and it’s a huge win for the athlete who was able to succeed in that kind of situation.  It’s a miracle for chiropractic.


Dr Jamie Laws
Toronto, Ontario, Canada