Sports Performance - South Africa
So I was unanimously chosen to write this post because of my excitedment throughout our time at University of Cape Town (UCT) on Tuesday. Our dear friend Zoe, who we met during the Ultimate Training Camp last week, is a student at UCT in the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA). She is currently completing her honors courses, which in the States would be in between a bachelor's and master's degrees. The SSISA is the premier sports science and research facility in South Africa. There is groundbreaking, international research being done and applied here, and Zoe was able to spend almost 3 hours taking our sports medicine team to the various SSISA departments and labs.
We visited the biokinetics labs, sleep study lab, toured the elite gym, hyperchambers, neuro clinic, and much more! We intereacted with several staff members in their respective areas. Each was so welcoming as we dropped in as curious Americans. They showed us around their lab, gave us a summary of the work they are doing, and answered our questions. One SSISA member even showed us the biking equipment and let us ride the eccentric bikes! I was so impressed by the organization, integration of technology & research, and resources available to sports science at SSISA. I look forward to the day where I can work in a similar environment.
The interesting thing about a group of athletic trainers visiting South Africa is being able to compare our scope of practie to the sports medicine model in South Africa. Traditionally, we have compared our profession to physiotherapists or physios. What we realized on this trip, after talking to athletes & visiting SSISA, is that our scope of practice encompasses several professions in South Africa. The sports medicine healthcare model in South Africa is much more segregated and compartimentalized. The athletic training profession includes the same job descriptions as sport scientists, biokinetics, and physiotherapists. Almost all of the professionals we met yesterday were appreciative of our wide scope of practice and our ability to bring so many skills together to serve athletes. One of the problems that each SSISA professional identified was that the healthcare system is disjointed. They struggle with friction amoungst themselves, arguing over overlapping scopes of practice, and lack of communicatoin about patient/athlete treatment. As a result, admittedly the athlete suffers and does not receive the best quality of care.
At one point as we toured SSISA, Dom turned to me, and said, "You're really in your element!" And it was true, you could see it on my face. This is my passion: bringing sports injuries together with science & research. To be able to be in the SSISA learning environment; to be able to communicate back & forth with each expert in his/her respective field about sport, training, injuries, rehabilitation, and difficulties in our fields; to see what the furture of sports science looks like was absolutely incredible! While there are many things we excell at in the States, it was obvious to our team that South Africa was years ahead when it comes to sports science. I am so thankful that I have been in the sports medicine enviornment that I have been at the University of Nevada, because we have been having those conversations, and we truly strive to be research led. As a result, I felt like I got a lot more out of the tour Tuesday. Because I was familiar with the work being done in each department, I was able to do more than just listen. I understood the big picture and was able to ask pertinent questions.
For those of you STILL reading through all my passionate mumbo jumbo, just know that it was a very intellectually stimulating day for all of us! We really enjoyed experiencing this together as a team and looked forward to seeing what Stellenbosch University's athletic department has to show us next!
- Jess for the team
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