The healing hands of Team Jersey

The healing hands of Team Jersey

Doctors Adam Garnett and Carl Clinton have attended Island Games in their medical capacity several times, as has physiotherapist Morag Obarska, but for masseur and sports therapist Nick Hooper the trip to Guernsey will be his debut.Before they even leave the Island the medical team has a number of patients on their books with existing problems.Obarska explained that as the competitors have built up their training, one or two problems have come to light and a couple have had to pull out.’We start looking after the competitors well before the Games so when we’re there we already know what we’ll be dealing with,’ she said.

‘And we know we’re going to be busy while we’re in Guernsey.’This is her sixth Games and, although each one is different, she said it was a help to have been before.

‘Every time I go I learn new things.

The hardest call is knowing where to go first, and people will come to me and my colleagues as soon as we arrive.

‘I’ll be holding a clinic early every morning and I have a list of people who I’ll need to treat.

After that, if there’s time available I’ll go where I think I’ll be needed.

The athletes know me and there’s a degree of trust when you’ve been working with people for a while.’The worst injuries that may occur will be dislocated and broken bones.

‘The cyclists always look dreadful because of the amount of blood if they come off their bikes but they’re usually suffering from just grazes.

Once they’re cleaned up they’re not too bad,’ she said.Obarska added that the problem most likely to occur is muscle damage due to overuse, when sportspeople such as footballers, volleyballers, tennis and badminton players and swimmers have competition on consecutive days.’We try to keep them all going as long as we can – it’s always very hard to have to tell them to stop,’ she said.Carl Clinton, one of the two doctors on the team, has also been dealing with competitors who have been injured in training, and he will be keeping a close eye on them.’Injuries can and do occur in the competitions but it is far more likely to be muscle over-use that causes the problems,’ he said.But his, and fellow doctor Adam Garnett’s, main remit is to fight off the millions of germs that will be doing the rounds with several thousand people living and competing in close proximity.’Someone always has a bug or a cough or cold so Adam and I are going to be doing the lotions and potions too, not just the taping and bandaging.’The doctors have to ensure any medication they prescribe is free of banned substances, a subject they know well in their roles as medics in sport.’More worrying is the danger of a competitor who gets a cold popping out to buy over-the-counter remedies,’ Clinton explained.Some of the older competitors may be taking what are banned substances, for exisiting medical conditions – beta-blockers for high blood pressure, for example – but all competitors must submit medical forms prior to the Games so the authorities know who is taking what, and letters have to be sent by doctors to confirm this.Adam Garnett is attending his third Island Games and said that he is expecting to use all his medical skills, including massage.’It’s not something we doctors do very often,’ he admitted, ‘but Carl and I will be under the direction of Morag and Nick.

They’ll point us in the right direction and do the basic stuff while they do the more complicated things.

Because of the nature of the Games, with events going on in all different locations, we have to think on our feet and we will be under pressure.’Although the main problems are likely to be sports injuries, Garnett said that for any athlete who has been training hard for six months, a sore throat the day before a race becomes a problem of enormous magnitude.

‘It may be a disproportionate reaction but it’s understandable under the circumstances and we’ll do our best to sort it out,’ he said.Antibiotics may well be prescribed a little more readily than normal and Garnett said that they do treat their patients differently in these circumstances, in an effort to stop infection going around the whole group.

He’d been surprised at just how busy they can be.’We were working for 14-15 hours a day by the end of the week in Isle of Man,’ he said.

‘It hit us on the Thursday because by then everyone was starting to seize up.’The rookie of the medical team, Nick Hooper, is looking forward to the Games.Originally from Rochdale, he trained and qualified as a sports therapist while living in Australia before coming to Jersey a number of years ago, although he is probably better known for being Jersey resident Ian Woosnam’s caddie for a few months in 2001/02.’Ian had back problems and I’d treated him a couple of times and he wanted someone who was based in the Island,’ said Hooper.

‘Then, after the infamous 15th club in the bag affair in the Open at Royal Lytham, and sacking his caddie after he overslept, he asked if I’d take on the job.

I said yes and the pinnacle was caddying when he won at Wentworth.’He said that Woosnam himself chose the clubs but Hooper checked the yardage, greens wind and other details.

‘I did it for six months.

It was good fun but hard work, living in hotel rooms.’The main problems he is anticipating next week are calf, hamstring and groin strains.’I’ll help keep those footballers’ legs as supple as possible.

They’ll be tired with all the matches they have to play.

I’m looking forward to seeing what goes on.’

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