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Susan Welsh, D.C., DACBSP, Davenport ’80

Tampa Bay Storm offensive coordinator Pat O’Hara, second from left, stands with Dr. Susan Welsh, the team’s chiropractor. Before coming to the Storm, O’Hara also played for the University of Southern California and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay Storm players on sideline with Dr. Susan Walsh

STATS: Team chiropractor for the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning (1986-1995) and the Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm (1995-present)

How long have you been a sports chiropractor? For 27 years. I started as a sports trainer for the rugby team while a student at Palmer. We were known as trainers because we were still training to become chiropractors.

How is caring for athletes different than caring for traditional patients? When athletes get hurt during a game, you have to make the immediate decision as to whether they can continue to play or sit out the rest of the game. You don’t have to worry about that in an office where tests are done one day and you have the luxury of dealing with a less serious injury the next day.

Why is it important for chiropractors to be available during games? For one thing, you can see how an injury happens. You also get to know these people over time and their proclivity for injury. And you know how they normally get treated, which helps you proceed better with their care.

What do you like about being a team chiropractor? The team spirit. You get to revel in all of the victories! These people are great folks and they want to get well. They’re also very motivated and tend to do everything you tell them to do.

What knowledge have you gained from being a sports chiropractor? I’ve learned how much it means to everybody to be part of a team. That’s something you can’t replace. As a sports chiropractor, you’re on the field and part of the action. Then there’s the mystique of being with the team.

Do you have any advice for others wanting to be sports chiropractors? I earned my Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician certification and the sports physicians diplomate (DACBSP). It’s important to get that additional training in sports chiropractic.

Providing a good defense against a few avid reporters: One of Dr. Welsh’s more memorable experiences occurred in a locker room during a 2003 nationally televised game where the Storm’s quarterback was injured. “As I was trying to evaluate the situation, one reporter came through one door and another reporter came through the door on the other side of the room, and we hadn’t even decided how to care for the patient yet,” said Dr. Welsh. She sent both reporters out of the room. “I wasn’t very ladylike.”

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