Cleveland Clinic Canada is located in downtown Toronto and is the Canadian campus of a global academic medical center; the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic Canada is a bit of a hidden gem in our Ontario health care system: The 30,000 square foot state-of-the-art outpatient facility offers both public (OHIP) as well as private health care services. Cleveland Clinic Canada is open to the general public and offers programs and services ranging from executive health and lifestyle management programs to an OHIP funded specialty clinic (offering sports medicine, dermatology, gastroenterology and cardiology services) – all with the goal of enhancing the lives of Canadians.

Canada’s National Ballet School of Canada is pleased to have a long-standing relationship with Cleveland Clinic Canada. Their talented Sports Health team, lead by Dr. Tim Rindlisbacher, includes specialists in sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic medicine and massage therapy. Dr. Rindlisbacher and his team have extensive experience in the field of professional sports medicine. Osteopath Luke Fuller, for example, is one of a select group of Canadians credentialed to travel with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour and has treated many of the top international players. Dr. Cathy Campbell is the Team Physician for the Canadian National Soccer Team (most well known for their Bronze medal win at the 2012 London Olympics!) and Dr. Rindlisbacher has worked with the Toronto Raptors, the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), and the Buffalo Bills. And, this past summer he was named Head Team physician for the Toronto Argonauts Football Club. The team at Cleveland Clinic Canada not only treat our Professional Students they also work with them to help them to avoid injury. Below, Dr. Rindlisbacher discusses the relationship between NBS and Cleveland Clinic Canada.

NBS: Many of our readers are probably not familiar with Cleveland Clinic Canada. How would you say it is different from other health and sports health clinics?

DR. RINDLISBACHER: That’s a good question – and one that I’m often asked. First, I would say that being a part of an international teaching and research health care centre, is a key differentiator. As part of Cleveland Clinic, an organization that truly values teamwork, we have access to the most current, evidence-based care guidelines, as well as a network of 3,000 physicians and 43,000 health and wellness colleagues world-wide. When we need to, we can draw upon this incredible knowledge and experience to provide the best possible care to our patient.

Cleveland Clinic Canada is a unique public-private hybrid: Most people aren’t aware that we offer OHIP funded services. Getting an appointment is as simple as having a physician referral and a valid OHIP card. Appointments with members of our sports health can usually be accommodated within a day or two. We also have a comprehensive team of Wellness specialists which includes Registered Dietitians, Exercise Physiologists and Psychologists – many of whom have advanced training and experience with professional sport as well. Jennifer Sygo, for example, one of our Registered Dietitians, has worked with athletes from Hockey Canada, Gymnastics Canada and Skate Canada – as well as many weekend warriors wanting to take their performance to the next level. We also have x-ray and ultrasound onsite, so we are able to complete diagnostic test readily, and with this information in our hands, can work quickly with our patients to define recovery and rehabilitation plans.

Finally, a big difference, in my experience, is our focus on the patient. Ensuring that every patient has the best possible care and service experience is very important to us. That might sound a bit simplistic but it really is our guiding principle. Every decision we make hinges on the answer to the question; ‘What is best for our patients?’

NBS: How did Cleveland Clinic Canada become involved with Canada's National Ballet School?

DR. RINDLISBACHER: It all started with Mavis Staines... When Mavis and I were first introduced, she was the Artistic Director of the NBS. I had done a lot of work with injuries and injury prevention in the areas of gymnastics and dance medicine prior to joining Cleveland Clinic Canada. Through the contacts I gained in those fields, I was introduced to Mavis. That was 4 years ago now!

NBS: What is Cleveland Clinic Canada’s role with the NBS?

DR. RINDLSIBACHER: With a focus on early detection and prevention of injury and significant illness, our role with the NBS is as diverse as those working and training with the School: We literally provide the gamut of health and sports health care to staff and students. With the Professional Students in particular, our job is to support them in any way we can with our expertise in health and wellness to do what’s important to them: return to their training and practice with confidence.

NBS: Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent injury throughout the year?

DR. RINDLISBACHER: My primary advice to students is to listen to their teachers. Instructors have the background and personal experience to know best how to introduce students to new or specific movements, and how to do so according to their bodies and skill levels. Other success factors include proper nutrition, eating behaviours, adequate sleep and stress management. Our Registered Dietitians and Psychologists are well equipped to help in these areas.

NBS: Dancers are often impatient to get back to dancing following an injury. Do you have any suggestions on how to recover and manage the healing process effectively?

DR. RINDLISBACHER: Injuries can be really difficult for professional athletes because of the pressure they put on themselves to perform at their best. From a physical perspective, it is my strong belief that rehabilitation and recovery can be achieved through consistent exercise, tailored to the specifics of the injury and the individual, and cognizant of not exacerbating the problem. Swimming and working out in a pool are among the best forms of exercise when recovering from an injury because the buoyancy of the water allows for moderate weight bearing activities, without the intensity or heavy impact on bones, joints or muscles.

I also advise athletes who are dealing with an injury to work with a musculoskeletal expert, such as a physiotherapist or osteopath, to structure an appropriate rehabilitation program that won’t stress the injury or inhibit the healing process. When I’m working with professional ballet students, I also encourage my patients to stay connected with their dance environments, watch classes, and assist instructors until they’re able to participate in classes again. Doing so can also have a positive impact on the emotional and mental stressors that often accompany the physical injury of a high performing athlete such as a dancer.

NBS: With the Holiday Season approaching, our students will have a short break from their training. Do you have any tips on how to prevent injury when they return to their regular training schedule in the New Year?

DR. RINDLISBACHER: It’s always a good idea to keep up an exercise routine throughout the holidays. Without high intensity exercise, muscles atrophy or weaken after only two days of disuse. So although it's nice to give the body a break, I always encourage athletes to stay active to keep their muscles in performance condition. But, it doesn’t have to be the same form of exercise. As I mentioned earlier, swimming is a great form of exercise. Cycling is as well. And, if you want an excuse to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, working up a sweat while ice skating are all great ways to keep your muscles ‘trained’ – just remember to dress in layers so that you have some options if you start to heat up or cool down over the course of your workout!