The number is surprising, at first glance. 3,425 treatments were performed by the FICS chiropractors at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA. The number roughly corresponds to the number of athletes who participated in the multi-sport event in Alabama. 3,457 athletes from 99 nations competed in 34 sports, 58 disciplines and 223 medal events during the ten days of competition from 7th to 17th July 2022.
The acronym FICS stands for Fédération Internationale de Chiropratique du Sport, or in English: International Federation of Sport Chiropractors.
“Because the number of treatments fits so nicely with the number of TWG athletes, they are in a way a symbol for the standpoint of FICS, that every athlete deserves access to sports chiropractic, and free chiropractic care can create a more equitable playing field," said Simon Lawson, chair of the FICS International Sporting Federations Commission.
In 2025, when The World Games are held in Chengdu, Peoples Republic of China, the team will again offer its free service at each competition site. It will be a small anniversary. It will be the fifth time the FICS team will be at The World Games. Since The World Games 2005, FICS has provided onsite sports chiropractic care to help athletes prevent injuries and achieve optimal performance. "Our team is already planning for Chengdu," says Brian Nook, FICS Chef de Mission, and Sports Chiropractor of the Year awarded by the American Chiropractor Association. The experience in Birmingham was so positive that the first doctors have already applied to participate in the Games in China.
But back to the record number of 3,425 treatments at the TWG 2022. The fact that the number is so similar to the number of athletes does not mean that every participant was treated by one of the 46 FICS doctors from nine countries – because it is by no means a rarity that one treatment is not enough. The US-American Flying Disc player Khalif El-Salaam was one of them. Before the first preliminary round match, the 29-year-old went to the tent near the warm-up area to get prepared for the match. USA won, and the player was back the very next day before the second pool match. “After the game yesterday I immediately recommended my team-mates to drop by regularly as well,” he said. This obviously paid off very well: Khalif El-Salaam and the US team won gold at TWG 2022.
What the record results show in terms of treatments is that the free service of the trained chiropractors from all over the world was gladly and gratefully accepted by the top athletes. And not only by them: Wheelchair Rugby official Gilles Brière is 75 years young, and saw Dr. Ray Gaskey at The World Games and raved about the treatment. "Right now, I feel very good and sound. But when I came, I was struggling a lot with pain. I would definitely recommend treatment with Dr. Gaskey."
In summary, Brian Nook says it this way: "The response from the athletes were very positive with many favourable comments to our team, group photos, sharing of social media and continued friendship. We also collected data on patient satisfaction of their experience, and it demonstrated a significant positive response."
But what exactly are the FICS doing? Lottie Langhoff, FICS Chief Games Commissioner, knows there are many misconceptions about sports chiropractics. "A common belief is that you need to be injured before you seek our support, but that's far from the truth. We help athletes prepare for competition and aid in their healing after performing, with the goal of preventing injury altogether. It involves a lot of preventative maintenance on the body; it's more than just backs and bones." But of course, chiropractors also help with injuries and help get athletes back into competition as quickly as possible.
The chiropractors see themselves as part of an overall team. The FICS delegation worked closely with the Birmingham Organising Committee medical team to support the athletes, volunteers and team members to perform at their best.
During the ten days, the FICS team not only met with athletes. The team also met IOC President Thomas Bach, and welcomed Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin to one of the treatment rooms available at each of the 23 competition venues during The World Games. Even the mascot Vulcan, rather large, gray and muscular, laid down on one of the FICS couches. The mascot did not say a word about how satisfied Vulcan was. He is, in fact, mute. But what could be seen was that there was definitely an extra bounce in his steps.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.