Sports Chiropractic Takes Logan Faculty Member to Israel’s Maccabiah Games
Logan made its presence known halfway around the world this summer, as one faculty member joined more than 9,000 Jewish athletes at the world’s third-largest international sporting competition.
The quadrennial Maccabiah Games in Israel set the stage for 46 events involving athletes from more than 70 countries. It also opened the door for many sports medicine and chiropractic physicians, including Logan’s own Connie Hayes, DC, assistant director of BIOFREEZE® Sports & Rehabilitation Center, to treat athletes.
Dr. Hayes’ participation in the Maccabiah Games came at the invitation of December 1992 Logan graduate Dr. Richard Gakner, who practices chiropractic near Tel Aviv. Dr. Hayes first met Dr. Gakner when she spoke at the 2012 Federal International Chiropractic Conference in Israel to teach a sports symposium.
Dr. Gakner, who serves as vice president of the Israeli Chiropractic Society and cofounded the Israeli Chiropractic Sports Council, has been instrumental in advancing the chiropractic profession in Israel with the goal of establishing Israel’s first chiropractic college.
“Unlike the United States, chiropractors are not granted the title doctor in Israel,” Dr. Hayes said. “All the practicing DCs in Israel have earned their degrees abroad.”
Yet, according to Dr. Gakner, there is a demand for primary health care professions in the neuromusculoskeletal field.
With Dr. Gakner serving as the chiropractic coordinator for the Maccabiah Games in 2005 and 2009, as well as this year, Dr. Hayes was one of several U.S. sports chiropractors invited to treat athletes during the competition.
Her counterparts included chiropractic physicians from Israel and South Africa, as well as chiropractic students from the University of Western States in Oregon.
“I’m always game for traveling and treating athletes, but in a different county and at a new venue, you’re a little bit on your own,” Hayes said, adding that she quickly learned there was no time for fear. “You’re there for the athletes. You go to where they are.”
Time and time again, she encountered athletes who had no prior experience with chiropractic care; but each time she treated an athlete, they were amazed with the results.
For 10 days, Dr. Hayes immersed herself in treating athletes competing in kayak, tennis, judo, swimming, track and field, rugby and soccer. The experience, she said, was inspiring and unforgettable.
“I was working with the karate team when an injured Swedish soccer athlete came over me and said, ‘I heard you’re the person I’m supposed to see because you’re really good’,” Hayes said. “I adjusted her low back, and she felt immensely better. Then she asked if I could come to her soccer game.”
Dr. Hayes couldn’t say no.
At the arena, Dr. Hayes wasted no time treating sprains of athletes on the sidelines and getting them back on the field. Impressed with Dr. Hayes’ work, the team’s physical therapist started sending over more young women with injuries. With Hayes at their aid, they received instant relief.
“The kinds of treatment that seem basic to us were game-changers for these athletes,” she said.
Dr. Hayes was thanked with T-shirts, athletic gear and invitations to dinner, but for her, the only gratitude she needed came in the form of satisfied athletes. “I like to work long and hard. It’s fuel to me.”
Wherever she went, Dr. Hayes made connections; most of the time with athletes or counterparts, but sometimes with spectators, such as a wheelchair-bound South African woman who asked if
Dr. Hayes could provide dynamic neuromuscular stimulation. She treated her on the spot.
And on one occasion, Dr. Hayes took on the role of track coach and sports psychologist as she helped a young Canadian track and field athlete prepare for a relay. Following the race, the athlete’s
parents tracked her down to thank her for building their son’s confidence.
It was a profound moment for Dr. Hayes. “That is what I work for,” she said.
Dr. Hayes said attending the Maccabiah Games was truly an eye-opening experience, and it is her hope that Logan’s relationship with Israel continues as Dr. Gakner and others work to further institutionalize chiropractic.
“I believe Logan will be a part of that vision in helping establish a presence in places where chiropractic is not yet prevalent,” she said.
Dr. Hayes is an April 2000 Logan graduate.