Edinburgh, Scotland
Wednesday 28th December 2011
A couple of weeks ago, James Butterfield, a recently graduated physiotherapist had mentioned that he was off to spend a few days in New York.  James had spent a few days down at the HiPAC, shadowing my work with UK Athletics to get more experience of physiotherapy in the sporting world & compare what we did in track & field to the work that he had seen in football.

James had also asked if I could help him set up a visit to one of the pro-sports teams in the area but given the time of year the baseball & ice hockey teams were either in full flow or out of season, whilst the NBA was in lock-out & the MLS season had just wound up.  That left the NFL & as a result, I put James in contact with my friend & head of rehabilitation at the NY Giants, Byron Hansen to see if a visit to the Timex Centre could be arranged.

This is what happened the words of James:

"Recently, thanks to Olli, I was given the incredible opportunity to spend the day with the medical team at NFL’s New York Football Giants. On my arrival I met Byron Hansen – head of rehabilitation, who introduced me to the other physical therapists and trainers at the club. The team were interested in my history and were intrigued at how things are maybe different in terms of education - University courses, and the development of young talent in the UK. The majority of professional teams in the UK have their own academy in order to try and produce young players for the first team, this is quite different to pro teams in the US where there is no ‘academy’ linked to the club, and therefore young talent has to be produced within a separate organisation. The academy style set up that we have in the UK was one that the Giants had experienced first hand when they used Chelsea’s training ground 5 years ago; they found it refreshing to see young boys training and playing games so close to their idols.

Byron then showed me around the breath-taking facilities that the Giants call home at the Timex Performance Center in New Jersey. I was amazed at the quality of these facilities and the rehab equipment available to use. One prime example of this was the underwater treadmill - with variable levels height, speed and resistance (via water jets) as well as being fitted with underwater cameras for analysis, made it an incredible tool for rehabilitation. The treatment room was fitted out with a large rehab area with tons of modern and state of the art equipment; I thought how nice it must be to have the freedom to be as creative with rehab programmes as you like, a luxury that many of us working in football over here sometimes don’t have.  

After this I met a few of the injured players, however there were no real treatments taking place at this time as most of the squad were in meetings and the others already had individual programmes to do. After meetings the treatment room was full of players getting taped, I was surprised at how the players seemed to get taped regardless of whether or not they actually needed to be for a physiological reason. Each player was also taped differently depending on how they were used to it being done at university / college, I found this interesting as it was clearly used as more of a psychological tool rather then a physiological one.  

I then went outside to observe training and got the chance to spend more time with Byron, it was nice to gain his perspective on physiotherapy and how many things differ between our football and American football. I found it overwhelming to see the amount of staff, players and cameramen involved in the training session. I was impressed at the organisation of the many coaches and attitude of the players on a chilly December morning. After training there were more meetings and no more treatments so Byron gave me a lift to the bus stop and we bid farewell. 

This was a great experience for me, although I didn't see much assessment taking place it was brilliant for me to see how one of the biggest clubs in the world manages their medical department and gave me tons of inspiration to bring back with me. It was nice to meet Byron and when I left he said to give him a call when I'm next in the states, an offer that I will certainly take up!
Byron and the other guys all passed on their regards to Olli and told me to say Hi from them; they had lots of good things to say about him and the time he spent with them!"

I would like to add my thanks to Byron for arranging the visit & to Ronnie, Steven & Leigh for making James so welcome.  A further demonstration that the Giants are a world-class organisation!

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