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Therapist Heads to Winter Olympics

January 8, 2010
Edison Au, a sports physical therapist and strength and conditioning specialist at Somerset Medical Center’s Sports Performance and Rehabilitation Center, will be heading to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February to serve as part of the host medical team caring for Olympic figure skaters. 

Au, of Warren, will be in Vancouver from Feb. 11 to March 1. He is scheduled to cover the men’s short program (Feb. 16), compulsory dance (Feb. 19) and free dance (Feb. 22) competitions as well as practice and training sessions. Among the men expected to vie for gold in Vancouver are World champion Evan Lysacek (United States) and U.S. national champion Jeremy Abbott. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of Canada, 2006 Olympic silver medalists, are expected to be leading contenders in ice dancing. 

“Being part of the shared experience of competing at the highest level in the world and appreciating the determination and sacrifices that are necessary to reach and perform at this upper echelon as well as feeling the global camaraderie that comes with international competitions is what makes the Olympics such a special event,” Au says. “There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that you had significantly contributed to the successful performance of an athlete, especially at such a level. Much like winning a gold medal, you feel that all your life’s work has been built up for this very moment, which has finally come to fruition.”

Au will be putting in long days at the Olympics. Following accreditation and orientation sessions, he will work 14 days straight of shifts lasting up to nine and a half hours. His work will include orienting international team therapists to the medical services and facilities available, responding to on-ice injuries, evaluating and treating skaters’ chronic or acute ailments, providing pre- and post- competition massage and treatment and “anything else that could possibly assist the athletes in having their performance of a lifetime,” he says.

Au has extensive experience as a trainer and therapist for collegiate and professional athletes as well as for several international athletic competitions. He previously served as staff therapist for the University of Toronto’s wrestling, rugby, ice hockey and lacrosse teams, trainer for Canada’s men’s national rugby team and head therapist for the Potamac Athletic Club of the U.S. Rugby Super League. In addition, he has worked with athletes at the 2001 World Maccabi Games in Israel, the 2003 Pan American Maccabi Games in Chile, the 2003 Canadian Open Paralympic Championships, the 2007 ParaPan American Games in Brazil and the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, China. 

Au says this experience has benefited his work at Somerset Medical Center’s Sports Performance and Rehabilitation Center.

“Working as a therapist at major international games prepares you to handle high-stress, high-demand environments which require effective and immediate results,” he says. “When you’re required to produce results in a limited amount of time, you very quickly learn what works and what doesn’t, which translates into more efficient and effective care.”