It seems to be a recurring theme when speaking with Athletic Therapists on how they got started in their chosen profession. They got hurt; sought treatment with an AT and became fascinated with what Athletic Therapy offered. At least that’s how Stewart Munroe got started. With Stewart, it was a neck injury sustained while lifting weights at Acadia University. As Stewart tells it, “I ended up getting some therapy at the clinic for my neck, and was intrigued by the approach they used to help me get better.” So, after graduating from Acadia in 1995 with his Bachelor of Science, Stewart volunteered at a sports medicine clinic in his home town. The owner of the clinic introduced him to the therapist that was working with the Saint John Flames of the AHL. Says Stewart, “I ended up volunteering at the rink with the team and soon learned that Athletic Therapy was the career path for me”.
Stewart went to Sheridan College to study Athletic Therapy graduating with honors in 1999 and the rest—as they say—is history. In 2001 Stewart opened Ken-Val Rehab and Sports Injury Centre in Rothesay, New Brunswick. Stewart also works as the Head Athletic Therapist at Rothesay Netherwood School, and in 2005, he joined the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL as the team’s Rehab Consultant where he works closely with the team’s Head Athletic Therapist and Team Physicians.
When asked about what he loves most about being an Athletic Therapist, Stewart will tell you sardonically, “I love working with injured people”. But then he puts it in context. “It’s not fun being hurt, and when simple day-to-day functions have been taken away from you because of an injury, life can get frustrating… There is no better feeling than having someone who has struggled with an injury for many months and gone to numerous health care providers seeking solutions, to finally see improvement in their flexibility, strength and overall function after working with you.” Sums up Stewart, “I love the complete process”.
As Stewart works day in and day out, he likes to remind people that ATs treat a lot more than just athletes. As he says, “A muscle is a muscle, a tendon is a tendon, and a bone is a bone.” And whether his patient is a professional athlete, or a blue-collar worker, the job of the AT is the same, to help them get moving again… whatever their finish line.