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Dynamic Chiropractic – May 21, 2005, Vol. 23, Issue 11

A Worldwide Call for Olympian Chiropractors

By Jim Wooley, DC

Turin, Italy will host the next Olympic Games (Winter 2006). Chiropractic has made great strides in the past 100 years, not because of monetary support from wealthy special interest groups, but because patients from all walks of life have benefited from chiropractic treatment.

The axiom that mechanical disease requires a mechanical solution has resonated throughout modern medical history and has remained immutable in the prevention and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Thanks to our founders and forefathers, we now enjoy greater acceptance than at any time in history. This current generation of chiropractors is able to stand on the shoulders of giants and brings these principles and practices to lay patients and athletes alike.

The athletic arena has been the most important proving and testing ground for chiropractic treatment. Since 1980, athletes from the United States have had access to chiropractic care during the Olympic Games because of work behind the scenes to ensure that this care was available. Previously, U.S. Olympic athletes seeking treatment at the games had to find a chiropractor practicing in the host city or receive care from a chiropractor on the medical staff of another country. This was the dilemma that I found myself in at the '75 Pan American Games in Mexico and the '76 Summer Olympics in Montreal. As I found out in Montreal, I was not alone in seeking chiropractic care from Dr. Leroy Perry, who was able to work at the games outside the official polyclinic through the country of Antigua.

Dr. Jim Wooley is a two-time former U.S. Olympian, having competed in judo at the 1972 Summer Games in Montreal (4th place) and 1976 Summer Games in Munich; he also won two gold medals at the Pan American Games. At the 1975 World Games Training Camp, he suffered a compression fracture in his cervical spine. When his injury was not responsive to conventional medical treatment, Jim turned to chiropractic and experienced considerable relief. This prompted him to enroll at the Palmer College of Chiropractic, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1979. After being elected to the United States Olympic Committee, Dr. Wooley was instrumental in bringing chiropractic treatment to the Olympic arena, serving as a team physician in 1984.

Later, with Dr. Perry's invaluable assistance, a group of Olympic athletes (including myself) was able to work inside the Athletes Advisory Council of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The result was that chiropractic gained acceptance and became a part of the United States Olympic Medical Team in 1980. The first official doctor of chiropractic for an Olympic team was Dr. George Goodheart, who worked at the Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. Other chiropractors who have worked at various Olympic Games include Drs. Haworth, Corwin, Horowitz, Klein, Hunter, Jaffee and Shapiro. Other countries around the world that have chiropractors as members of their medical team include Canada, Britain, New Zealand, Brazil, and some countries in the Caribbean. Currently, John Danchik and Phil Santiago select doctors to do their internships at the Olympic Training Center for selection on the Olympic Team.

The inclusion of chiropractors on the medical team at the Olympics only occurred through the hard work and dedication of individuals such as Leroy Perry, Marion Danna, Tom Hyde, Noel Patterson, Stephan Press, Tom Greenberg, Gordon Lawson, Robert Reed, Leonard Schroeder, Bob Hazel, John Nash, Ed Ryan, and many others who withstood the resistance and skepticism of the traditional medical team members. Just as Hypocrites and Galen treated gladiators and Olympians in ancient times, these doctors have sacrificed time and fortune to help athletes achieve their dreams of competing in the greatest sporting events the world has ever known.

Although much has been accomplished in providing access to chiropractic care at the Olympic Games, not all countries that host the games have given athletes access to chiropractic doctors at the various polyclinics. To educate the International Olympic Committee and Olympic member and host countries about chiropractic, and to advocate for the importance of including this valuable service, Terry Schroeder, DC (a four-time Olympian) and I are organizing an effort to identify and unite all chiropractors who have previously participated as athletes in the Olympics. With sufficient numbers, we hope to unite and bring our case for inclusion to the International Olympic Committee.

If you know of chiropractors who have previously competed in the Olympics, please e-mail me ( ) so I can obtain their contact information.

Jim Wooley, DC
U.S. Olympian, '72 & '76
Lake Forest, California

Author's note: This article is written with the endorsement of the International Federation of Sports Chiropractors (FICS) and the World Olympians Association.

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