Rehab Med alumnus makes Olympic debut in Sochi

Tyson Plesuk, MSc PT '07, joined the Canadian Skeleton team to Sochi as medical lead and head physiotherapist.

Jeannine Guérette - 01 April 2014

In February, eyes everywhere were glued to TV sets, computer screens and mobile devices as the world's best competed in the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. One member of the Canadian Olympic team in attendance - albeit behind the scenes - was the medical lead and head physiotherapist of the Canadian Skeleton team, Tyson Plesuk, a proud University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine alumnus.

"It was amazing to be right in all the action of the Olympics," says Plesuk, who graduated from the Department of Physical Therapy in 2007. "Being part of a group of skeleton athletes and coaches who dedicated so much time, hard work, and sacrifice was incredible," he adds. Plesuk also worked with bobsledders as well as alpine and slopestyle skiers.

From a young age, Plesuk knew that working with athletes was his calling.

"It was while playing junior hockey that I started to become interested in a future in rehabilitation medicine. I had some great therapists that really cared about our team and would put in extra effort," Plesuk explains. "I try to implement that same approach while working with my athletes."

To acquire the skills to fulfill his dream, Plesuk decided he had to pursue an MSc Physical Therapy at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (FRM).

"FRM offered me a great foundation and the building blocks to start my career as a physiotherapist. The outstanding staff and faculty at the Department of Physical Therapy created a positive environment for me to learn and develop my skills," says Plesuk. "I remember Judy Chepeha organizing special courses on her own time to teach athletic taping for students who were interested, which was really amazing."

Following graduation, Plesuk accepted a position with the Downtown Sports Clinics in Calgary and continued to work with a number of sports teams on the side. In fall of 2010, he was referred to the Canadian Skeleton program by a former hockey teammate, a colleague, and the medical coordinator of Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.

"My role with the skeleton team included completing preseason physiotherapy assessments, completing baseline concussion testing, treating acute injuries, managing chronic issues and implementing injury prevention strategies, to name a few."

Coming off his Olympic experience in Sochi, Plesuk is taking some time to contemplate his future with the Canadian Skeleton team.

"With a 13-month-old little girl at home and my patients at the Downtown Sports Clinics, it's hard to be on the road for 11 weeks of the year," says Plesuk, whose wife is an occupational therapist and fellow UAlberta FRM grad. "But regardless of what I decide to do, I know I'll be doing what I love - keeping the athletes healthy and on track to achieving their goals, whether it's to recover from an injury or make it to the Olympic podium."