CASTLEGAR — Behind every successful hockey program is a team of health-care professionals who tend to the inevitable bumps, strains, sprains and bruises that take a toll on a player’s body over the course of a season.
With the season now into the crunch of playoff hockey, the Selkirk College Saints are fortunate to have a trio of medical experts who help players mend and thrive on the ice. Chiropractor Dr. David Bzdel, physician Dr. Chris Lyttle and acupuncturist/herbalist Justin Kanigan help the Saints’ student-athletes survive the rigours of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) season.
“Our program is so much more than what people see on the ice during games,” says Selkirk College Athletics Coordinator Kim Verigin. “These three individuals provide our program with invaluable service over the season. Their passion for their profession is obvious and they have become key members of the team.”
Bzdel credits the sport for the pathway towards his chosen career. Experiencing the benefits of chiropractic care while playing hockey at the junior and university level pushed him towards a healing profession that puts focus on health, injury prevention and performance. In 2011, Bzdel took over Castlegar Chiropractic & Health (now Kootenay Integrated Health) where he runs a successful clinic and is one of only a few certified chiropractic wellness practitioners in Canada.
“It allows me a greater understanding of lifestyle-related conditions and how to best treat them with chiropractic, diet, exercise and emotional wellness,” Bzdel says about his wellness focus.
Lyttle relocated to Castlegar last year from Queensland, Australia with his wife and two children. He chose the region for its lifestyle and recreation opportunities like skiing and mountain biking. He joined the Saints as the team physician at the start of the season where he has immersed himself in the Canadian hockey culture while treating players who sustain more serious injuries.
Kanigan grew up in the region and played at several levels of hockey including the WHL and five seasons with the University of Lethbridge where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. During his time in Alberta, he served as a strength coach training high-level athletes. Also an assistant coach with the Saints for the last three seasons, Kanigan is a Registered Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioner who works out of Bzdel’s clinic in Castlegar.
“These guys understand what goes into playing sport at this level,” says Verigin. “The demands hockey puts on your body is considerable and it’s important to know that the people treating our players know their specific situation. We would not have a hockey program without the kind of support they provide on an ongoing basis.”
The medical team’s background in sport and active lifestyle provides additional dividends for the young student-athletes.
“Though it’s not officially their role, they also act as role models for the players,” says Verigin. “The players get to witness their quality work and professionalism in a field that promotes wellness and overall health. Once players graduate from our program, they will no doubt look back on this time and it will provide at least some inspiration for where they head in their own careers.”
Find out more about the Selkirk College Saints hockey program at selkirk.ca/saints.