Manitoulin Physio Centre provides innovative support to Island athletes

MANITOULIN—A Manitoulin business has taken an innovative path in leveraging their expertise to assist local athletes seeking sponsorship.

“We have supported many Manitoulin-based athletes over the years and this year at Manitoulin Physio Centre we are looking to broaden the benefits of clinical resources offered through our clinic by launching TEAM MPC,” said clinic operator Derek Debassige. “The focus of this initiative is to assist in the development of young athletes on Manitoulin.”

Mr. Debassige noted that young athletes are often role models for their peers and “provide inspiration for us all.”

This year, TEAM MPC is sponsoring four athletes who have “shown commitment and achievement in their chosen sport.” This year those student athletes are Mackenzie Turner, a 17-year-old biathlon competitor from Gore Bay who is currently training for two weeks with the national team in Prince Edward Island; Hunter Cranston, a Grade 9 student from Spring Bay who is involved in motocross; Samuel Assinewai, an 11-year-old student from Aundeck Omni Kaning who is taking the hockey world by storm; and 11-year-old Aysia Francis-Debassige of Sheguiandah, who is also enhancing her impressive performance in hockey.

“By offering support and guidance to these athletes we hope to enhance their achievements and motivate the communities around them in the process,” said Mr. Debassige.

Through TEAM MPC, local athletes receive functional movement screening (FMS), ImPact testing, training and injury prevention guidance, as well as a monetary sponsorship.

Mr. Debassige explained that FMS “involves testing the mobility and stability” of an athlete that helps “identify weaknesses in the body and inform our clinicians on the areas that require improvement in order to avoid injury and perform to their highest potential.”

ImPact testing (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) “allows the physiotherapist to gather a baseline level of brain functioning in areas such as reaction time, memory and decision making,” explains Mr. Debassige. “If the athlete sustains a concussion in future play, they can perform the test once again in order to compare the results to the athlete’s baseline score and gauge their level of impairment. This allows a safe return to play preparation plan to be constructed for the athlete.”

That pre-concussion testing proved useful very quickly for Aysia, noted her mother Melanie Francis. “That’s what really helps,” she said. “Aysia did suffer a pretty bad concussion this season. It allowed her to heal properly.” MPC took on the challenge very quickly. “Normally, you would have to wait a long time to be seen. Timely intervention was key. If it was ignored it could have caused a lot of problems later in life. When she got hurt at the Sudbury arena, Derek saw her the next day. She is okay now.”

Any parent with a child in hockey knows how expensive it can be, but when your child expresses a dream of playing for a high tier team like the Lady Wolves, the cost rises exponentially. “I really didn’t know how I was going to be able to afford it,” said Ms. Francis. “They (MPC) helped pay a portion of the registration.”

Perhaps even more important than the funding, the staff at MPC have provided advice and support throughout her daughter’s budding career. “They have been absolutely fantastic,” said Ms. Francis, whose son Nathan has also been sponsored by MPC.

“It really makes me feel good to have that extra support,” noted Mackenzie Turner, who has found the MPC services handy as she is currently nursing a shoulder injury. “It is really important, especially when you are training six days a week.”

Training and competing at the upper levels of any sport can lead to injury, but athletes also benefit greatly from advice informed by body science and technology to reach their greatest potential, and the athletes sponsored by MPC are benefiting in way that is usually out of reach of all but the wealthiest and best connected of rural competitors.