Having two Sport and Exercise Medicine physicians on staff at Reactivate Muskoka rounds out the level of care and treatment available.
“It’s an opportunity to get high quality Sport and Exercise Medicine treatment in our own community, which is pretty unique for a community our size,” said Dr. Pierre Mikhail, who specializes in treating running and endurance athletes. “It saves time and it’s convenient. Not having to travel two-and-a-half hours to three hours to be assessed is a big deal for a lot of individuals.”
Dr. Mikhail has been a member of the Reactivate team for three years and an Emergency Physician for about 20 years.
“In my job in the Emergency Room, you see a ton of Sport and Exercise Medicine-type injuries,” he said. “It’s very different. In emergency medicine it’s about being efficient and you don’t have a lot of time to deal with individual problems and with Sport and Exercise Medicine I feel like you’re kind of a detective. You can take a lot longer with patients to figure out what’s going on.”
Mikhail took a two-year Sport and Exercise Medicine diploma through the International Olympic Committee.
“Often with sports injury the rehab piece is a big part of recovery. For example, a runner who might have a hamstring injury; their underlying problem may have nothing to do with their hamstring. It might just be the area that got injured as a result of imbalances,” he explained.
“So part of the job is to figure out movement patterns and restore strength to areas that may be weaker. You definitely can’t do that in a five or 10-minute emergency consult.”
Dr. Mikhail finds it helpful to have other rehab professionals in one building.
“We have practitioners who are able to communicate with each other, so if I see someone who I refer for physio, I can walk into the next room talk to the physiotherapist and let them know what my impressions have been. I find that’s very helpful because that piece is often missing when you refer someone with a piece of paper for x, y or z versus this is what I saw in my exam.”
Dr. Rich Trenholm, a Sport and Exercise Medicine doctor and co-owner of Reactivate Muskoka, agrees.
“We wanted to create this new space so that we would be able to provide a more collaborative environment to our clients for rehabilitative care from sports injuries all the way through to active, healthy aging to pre-operative management of bone, joint, and muscle conditions,” he said. “One thing that’s become more and more evident, especially with COVID-19, is the wait times for surgery are extremely long and often the surgeons are turning to conservative management, which is non-operative management of arthritis or muscle and joint conditions before they turn to surgery or while the patient is waiting for surgery. It’s very hard to piece it together because no one service or one therapy can do it all.
“Despite there being some cross over of skill sets between rehabilitative specialists such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists, each one has their areas of strength. One specialist doesn’t necessarily provide the same scope of rehabilitative care that another one does. Only by having each rehab specialist providing collaborative holistic care of a patient, will a patient’s care be complete. Having all of the rehabilitative specialists working in the same clinical environment, and collaborating on patient rehabilitative care, means that the patient will benefit at the end of it all by having a more complete recovery, in a more time efficient manner. This way, patients will get back to living their best life, engaging in activities and sports that they love, and staying injury-free.”
Prior to getting involved in Sport and Exercise Medicine, Dr. Trenholm was also working in the Emergency Room at the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital and he happened to run into another doctor who specialized in Sport and Exercise Medicine. This came at a pivotal time for Dr. Trenholm who wanted to shift his focus of subspecialty in Family Medicine to a different area as his kids grew up.
“He’s one of the founding fathers of Sport and Exercise Medicine in Canada, so I was truly blessed to have him as a teacher and mentor to help get a solid foundation of Sport and Exercise Medicine,” said Dr. Trenholm. “I love doing Sport and Exercise Medicine because people want to live and they want to be able to be active, whether it’s playing with their grandkids or win the Stanley Cup or anything in between. I love helping people be active and move well enough so they can accomplish those things. That brings me a lot of joy. I love the challenge of figuring out where in the body things aren’t working properly.”
The transition to Sport and Exercise Medicine was a natural one as it built upon his Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics at the University of Guelph, and his Master of Science in Biomechanics and Anatomy from McMaster University.
Dr. Trenholm emphasized that Reactivate Muskoka isn’t just for athletes, noting that 80 per cent of patients are non-athletes.
“They’re active individuals who have a passion to want to move,” he said.
The point of treatment is to solve the issue so patients can continue to live their life pain-free, without needing to come in for treatment regularly.
“If you peel back the layers with rehab and fix the underlying problem, patients become more resilient to getting injured again and they don’t have to come back and see us, which is a good thing. We’re happy to be here for you, but we’d rather not see you,” said Dr. Trenholm with a laugh. “I’d rather see you out for a run, or playing with your kids; doing what you want to do.”
Dr. Trenholm’s passion for Sport and Exercise Medicine and helping people in our community recover from musculoskeletal injuries and conditions earned him the national award of the 2020 Community Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician of the Year from the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine.
For more information on the services at Reactivate Muskoka, visit reactivatemuskoka.com.
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