Having extensive experience as a physiotherapist treating winter sport injuries in Whistler, Mike Conway knows full well that when it comes to the human body, prevention is better than the cure.
It’s for that reason that Back in Action Physiotherapy — which Conway co-owns with Whistler physios Bianca Matheson and Therese Leigh — teamed up with Whistler Blackcomb to produce SKIRAD, a pre-habilitation app that lets users compare their bodies to what Conway refers to as “fit for snow needs.”
“After years of working in Whistler with professional ski teams and people coming into (Back in Action), we’ve always recognized the value of fit for snow needs, but the majority of people don’t even know what that is,” said Conway. “We decided there was a big need to create a ‘fit for snow guide’ to help these skiers and boarders reduce their injuries, so we asked Whistler Blackcomb (WB) for a partnership to help reduce their injury statistics.”
Back in Action already had a similar version of SKIRAD (an acronym for Ski Ready, Avoid Damage) in booklet form, which was distributed among WB staff with Conway making seasonal presentations on injury reductions strategies. In an effort to make SKIRAD more interactive and beneficial for the younger demographic that makes up much of WB’s workforce, a smartphone app was considered the best platforms to complement WorkSafe BC strategies.
“At Whistler Blackcomb, we feel that injury prevention is a multifaceted approach,” said WB mountain safety manager Kira Cailes. “You can’t just tell people to not fall down, you have to actually give them the tools to help them make good decisions and take care of themselves. (SKIRAD) is one piece of that and our investment has allowed this app to come to fruition and allow the app to be available to anyone, not just WB employees.”
The result is an app with over 100 hours of video content on the Fit for Snow Screen, pre-snow warm up exercises, post-snow recovery exercises as well as infographics, advice on equipment, nutrition and injuries, including concussions.
“The major things that I feel would benefit employees and the general public is appropriate conditioning,” said Conway. “For example, a lot of people in Whistler are fit and have general strength and conditioning from activities such as biking, but they don’t have fit for snow needs. That’s why we created this screen, to identify these risk factors that people unknowingly have. In the clinic we see the aftermath of the risk factors translated to injury.”
In Conway’s experience of treating patients in Whistler, he estimated that most skiers and snowboarders would pass as little as 50 per cent of the screening exercises and hopes that SKIRAD can help increase that statistic to the “pass” rate of 80 per cent.
The SKIRAD app is available now as a freemium product (free to download with eight programs) on iPhone and Android with the full-content SKIRAD Pro version (12 additional programs) available for a one-time purchase of $4.99.
For more information look for SKIRAD in the iTunes and Google Play stores.