Growing up as an athlete in the United States it was normal that an Athletic Trainer covered my highschool’s practices and games, that water and Gatorade was always available whenever a team needed it, and rehabilitation and therapy ,when needed, an athletic trainer was available. It was not until recently traveling to another country did I realize that these simplistic “norms” are taken for granted.
Spending a month in Sicily I was curious as to how healthcare, rehabilitation of injuries mostly, is different in the United States when compared to Italy. I was fortunate enough to take a tour and spend a couple hours at a physical therapy clinic in a town outside of Palermo. To my surprise, this clinic was nothing as I had expected it to be. Braces and splints were not distributed to athletes due to budget constraints, a doctor only visited once a month, oils and natural product therapy is seen as more beneficial compared to ultrasound and electrical stimulation, and what shocked me the most was the amount of equipment available for rehabilitation. A thera-band section with precut bands ready for use, a treadmill, and a couple of free weights was all that was available to use to these patients.
When I asked about the limited equipment, the physical therapist informed me that most patients did not want to use equipment, but would rather perform exercises on their own. I was shell shocked when I heard that these patients perform their own physical therapy without any guidance. In Sicily everyone is active so getting back into the swing of things is easily done.
It should not have taken a trip to another country to realize how grateful we as healthcare professionals should be to have access to such beneficial equipment, doctors who understand and trust us, and most importantly patients who understand what we do.