A Free Clinic for UP Athletes

| Written by Fred Dabu

In field training coverage. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)
In field training coverage. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)

The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman has a dedicated team of professionals that provides the UP Fighting Maroons—the collegiate varsity teams of UP Diliman—the health care they need, before and during University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) tournaments.

Directly under the UP College of Human Kinetics (CHK), the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic (UP SPTC) is the only accredited facility that primarily provides free medical consultation, physical therapy services, first aid and paramedical assistance, and rehabilitation programs to all UP enlisted athletes. The clinic also offers local and international certification courses, trainings and seminars for physical therapy student interns and professionals in the field of sports and orthopedics. These services are also available to the University’s students, faculty, administrative personnel, and the general public.


Therapy in the field

According to UP SPTC Director Maria Angela L. Borras, the clinic was originally a joint project of the CHK and the then UP School of Allied Medical Professions (now College of Allied Medical Professions in UP Manila). But it was only about a decade ago when the varsity physiotherapist then for the Maroons, Anthony Caguioa, reopened the facility and accepted student interns from UP Manila to be trained in sports, says Borras.

When Borras took over the job in 2011, the UP SPTC was formally set up as an organization headed by the CHK dean. “Clinical supervisors, who are licensed PTs, were welcomed as consultants. The CHK provided an in-house physiatrist for medical consultation, and with a good number of PTs available, the clinic started to operate regularly during weekdays, from 8 am to 5 pm,” she says.


Medical consultation (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)
Medical consultation. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)

“In 2012, the clinic developed a system that partnered student interns with licensed therapists, which allowed training and game coverage for all UP Fighting Maroons varsity teams, specifically for UAAP games. Therapy sessions have been done in the field to provide return-to-sports intervention and careful monitoring of the reintegration of recovering athletes to the team and sports,” continues Borras.

According to Borras, the milestones of the clinic include “providing post-graduate seminars and certification courses for licensed PTs and other sports professionals (2014); hosting an international certification course for Kinesiology Taping and Instrument Assisted Soft-Tissue Mobilization techniques (2015); Commission on Higher Education accreditation as an internship facility (2016); graduates from UP SPTC serving as physiotherapists for both professional and non-professional athletic teams; licensed PTs who underwent post graduate training specialization working for teams here and outside the country; hosting international certification courses which cut the expenses for our local practitioners; staff serving for the Rio Summer Olympics (2016), FIFA Medical Emergency course, Anti-Doping course for healthcare professionals by Stanford University, and this year’s Russia World Cup; and, staff pursuing their master’s degree.”


Personnel, equipment, and other services

The UP SPTC aims to “give excellent physical therapy services for injury prevention, rehabilitation and performance enhancement of the UP Diliman Varsity Teams;” and “be a role model for all sports physical therapy clinics in the country,” among its other goals mentioned earlier. And to fulfill these aims, the clinic operates under the leadership of CHK Dean Ronualdo Dizer and in coordination with Prof. Oscar Santelices, chair of the Varsity Athletics Admission System (VAAS).


Athlete’s clinic-based rehabilitation session. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)
Athlete’s clinic-based rehabilitation session. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)


Dr. Alberto Magpily serves as the resident physiatrist. According to Borras, the resident physiatrist and visiting orthopedic doctors from the UP Philippine General Hospital are in charge of “medical consultations and referrals for ancillary procedures and physical therapy intervention or other services, as needed.”

The varsity physiotherapist, tasked with ensuring that the teams are “provided with necessary care, training, game, and clinic based rehabilitation” is Ma. Crisanta Prieto. Borras, as the director of the facility, adds that she handles “external matters involving the clinic, such as partnerships with other universities, seminars and workshops, and other non-patient related events.” Borras explains that they, together with other physical therapists, serve as consultants, and as clinical and field supervisors who guide and assess students’ performance during their affiliation period.

Borras says that the clinic, located at the Ylanan Gymnasium of the CHK, makes use of equipment such as “therapeutic modalities like ultrasound and TENS, a traction machine, a LASER machine, and exercise machines for strengthening and endurance.” She adds that “the clinic also offers specialized services like instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, stationary and gliding cups, kinesiology taping, and wellness programs for weight loss or competition preparation for recreational athletes.”


The clinic’s UP spirit

With only one physiotherapist in charge of all the members of the varsity teams of UP Diliman, of each and every athlete of the UP Fighting Maroons, and clinic personnel having no security of tenure as consultants under non-UP contracts that are renewed every six months, the UP SPTC harnesses the UP spirit of honor and excellence, and dedication and grit, to provide its services, fulfill its goals, and thrive.


Interns’ lecture sessions done at the start of their internship rotation to equip them with necessary knowledge and skills upon duty assignments. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)
Interns’ lecture sessions done at the start of their internship rotation to equip them with necessary knowledge and skills upon duty assignments. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)


“Everyone else looking after the interns—10 to 12 students—and all the varsity teams, are compensated on consultancy basis. They enjoy no benefits and no papers despite their service to the University,” Borras reveals. “Our varsity physiotherapist is under a non-UP contract which is renewed every six months. Since the consultants and the varsity physiotherapist are not compensated and given benefits accordingly, dedication to the institution leads them to working multiple jobs to keep up with individual needs. Whenever a consultant is offered a more sustainable opportunity, the clinic has no power to make a counter-offer and ends up losing staff almost every academic year,” she adds.

“The majority of the clientele of the clinic are the athletes, and since they are provided for free, the services, seminars and workshops, have been utilized to raise funds to compensate the consultants. Student-interns are also providing minimal affiliation fees and non-athletes are charged minimally as well. But these funds are not fixed and are limited to the number of enrollees for every year and on a periodic basis, and to the number of non-athletes referred to the center. In the end, the system, facility, and the services are always in limbo until job security for the personnel is provided,” explains Borras.


Live healthy

In closing, Borras invites everyone to live a healthy life.

“‘Exercise is medicine’ has never been more relevant than at present when common mortality causes are modifiable conditions and non-communicable diseases. As an advocate of movement and believer of adding more years to life, the clinic welcomes everyone to take charge of their health through seeking the services of professionals” she says.


In field game coverage. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)
In field game coverage. (Photo from the UP Sports Physical Therapy Clinic)


“One does not need to get injured, be diagnosed with a disease, or be pressured by society before commencing to live a healthy lifestyle. Alongside the advocacy for movement, the Clinic aims to train more proficient and passionate individuals who will share their knowledge and skills with athletes and non-athletes, and UP and non-UP members alike,” concludes Borras.

The clinic can be contacted via sportsptclinic@gmail.com for health and wellness concerns or sports-related services.


Read the online UP Forum April-June 2018 Vol. 19 No. 2 issue in full here.