Meet the medical team helping Team Canada soldier on

A group of people dressed in team Canada jackets stand in a row.
The Team Canada Medical Team at the Invictus Games 2017. From left to right: Captain Adam Hannaford (Physiotherapist), Major Jean Boily (Social Worker), Captain Anne-Marie Lambert (Physiotherapist), Capt Kelly Debouter (Physiotherapist), Maj Erin Smith (Chief Medical Officer), Capt Stéphanie Bernier (Social Worker), Maj Pete Ceponis (Medical Officer) and Capt Nicole Mahoney (Head Physiotherapist). Photo: Craig Johnston

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By Lieutenant(N) Janet Lang

For any sporting event, medical support is essential to help athletes deal with injuries that arise during competition. For Team Canada at the 2017 Invictus Games, this medical care is provided by a dedicated crew of eight Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel and includes physicians, physiotherapists and social workers.

Major Erin Smith, one of a handful of sports medicine medical officers in the CAF, was asked to lead the team by Lieutenant-Colonel Markus Besemann, the CAF’s Head of Rehabilitation Medicine. Personnel on the medical team were selected based on their experience working with ill and injured personnel, high level sports such as Conseil international du sport militaire (CISM), or both. According to Maj Smith, an experienced team is essential for the athletes.

“We need to support and encourage them, but not push them past where they are comfortable” said Maj Smith. “For many of these athletes, just getting to the Games is a significant part of their therapy on the road to recovery”

The medical team recognizes the importance of the Invictus Games to Canadian athletes’ recovery. Captain Kelly Debouter, one of the physiotherapists for Team Canada, is impressed with how the team has come together over the past year. “It’s amazing to see these athletes supporting and leaning on each other at the Games. It’s pretty special to be a part of the team that is supporting them on their journey.”

Maj Jean Boily is one of two social workers on the medical staff with Team Canada, and he is very proud to be working with the rest of the staff to deliver the services needed to help the Canadian athletes at the Invictus Games. “It’s really awesome to see how far our athletes have come during the past year,” he said. “We have been able to plan and provide a safety net for our athletes.”

Providing care for the Team Canada athletes has allowed the medical team push their limits and acquire tremendous knowledge and experience. Maj Peter Ceponis, the other medical officer with Team Canada in Toronto, is impressed with what he has seen during the Games. “When you look at our athletes during the training and the competitions, you see them smiling, which is something that they’re not usually doing when you see them in active duty or during the release process.”

Maj Smith and the medical team have worked with Soldier On for the past year to ensure the medical team was well prepared for the Invictus Games.

“After working with the Soldier On team in the last year, I have seen first-hand how truly beneficial sport is to the recovery of our ill and injured personnel,” stated Maj Smith.

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