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Reflections on a year at Altis – Dr Nick Porterfield

Nick Porterfield
Ellie Spain

Ellie Spain

ALTIS Director of Education

Altis is renowned for the expertise of its medical staff and therapists: Chiropractor and Manual Therapy specialist Dr Nick Porterfield is no exception. Nick has played an integral role in the preparation of athletes at Altis in the past year. In this article Dr Porterfield reflects on time he has spent at the Center so far, and offers an insightful perspective into the operations of Altis from the standpoint of a Medical Practitioner.

“As my first year with Altis is coming to an end, I must say that I am very impressed with the level of treatment provided to the athletes. It seems obvious for me to make a statement like this since I am part of that therapy team, but I have been in other settings where I wouldn’t make that same claim …

I have treated athletes at universities as an athletic training student and a chiropractor, and I have also treated elite athletes at another world-renowned facility. While all of these therapy professionals were very qualified and talented at what they do, there was always something missing. There is a key component to athlete care that is often missing at all levels of sport – one which Altis has seemed to master. This key element goes beyond the ability to treat an injury and is what has enabled athletes at Altis to miss less training days than other athletes who I’ve been around in other settings. The missing element that the therapists, coaches, and athletes at Altis have found is communication.

“The coaches and therapy team are just as concerned with preventing injuries as they are with treating them”

In most training facilities, the athletes see the therapist before and/or after training. The coaches are not a part of this process. Often the athletes are left to relay messages as to what their limitations are supposed to be for practice, however, most athletes don’t feel comfortable telling their coaches that they are supposed to have limitations. The other typical action is that the athlete doesn’t understand what they are supposed to tell the coach, so they don’t say anything. The athletes participate in full practice, continuing to aggravate the injury, leading to a more serious injury and more time taken off in the future to allow for proper healing.

At Altis, two of the people providing the quality therapy are coaches themselves. Dan Pfaff and Stuart McMillan, aside from being international coaching gurus, have also learned more about anatomy and therapy in their combined 60+ years of coaching than many therapists will ever know. With all of the therapy being done at the track during practice, athletes are never left to relay messages as important as what their diagnosis is and what limitations are necessary. The coaches and therapy staff work side-by-side as one unit to constantly monitor athletes’ movement patterns in an effort to catch issues before they become symptomatic. That is another element that has blown me away about Altis. The coaches and therapy team are just as concerned with preventing injuries as they are with treating them. This again leads to fewer missed training sessions for the athletes which better prepares them for competition.

“The coaches and therapy staff work side-by-side as one unit”

And the communication doesn’t stop there. The coaches and therapists have amassed a network of specialists around the world who they can turn to for advice on a particular athlete. The egos that are sometimes seen with high level coaches and therapists are not present at Altis because we know that the most important thing is to provide the best care possible for the athletes. At the end of the day, as long as the athletes are healthy and competing, it doesn’t matter who needed to be consulted in order to help with diagnosis or treatment. The athletes will get the best care possible. I have personally seen three athletes in the past month who were battling chronic injuries get treated at Altis and go on to set PB’s and/or national records within the next two weeks. Communication amongst the staff combined with cohesion between training and therapy help athletes at Altis conquer injuries and compete at their highest levels.”

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