Hesquiaht health practitioner encourages young athletes to challenge their bodies

Port Alberni, BC

Daley Forbes, 27, loves sports and the natural beauty of Vancouver Island with all the recreational activities it has to offer. She grew up at Sproat Lake where she spent endless hours on the water and walking the rural roads.

During her teen years she took part in the school wrestling program. She was well on her way to a competitive wrestling career but in her early twenties was sidelined by an injury. Suffering with a dislocated kneecap, Forbes decided it was time to leave competitive sports behind.

The injury, as painful as it was, had a silver lining. That was when Forbes made the decision to train and work as a kinesiologist, helping to treat athletes recover from sports injuries.

Prior to her injury, Forbes, a member of Hesquiaht First Nation, considered studying forestry management as a career.

“As an Indigenous woman, I thought it would be a good thing to do, looking after the forest while staying outdoors and being active,” she said.

Forbes grew up at the family home at Sproat Lake where she spent her free time hiking, swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding. So, it was important for her to have a career that would keep her physically active.

But while she was pursuing competitive wrestling in Winnipeg, the injury to her kneecap and ligaments gave her a taste of various rehabilitation methods needed to gently heal while keeping full range of movement in her leg. She moved back to British Columbia and signed up for an athletic therapy program offered at Camosun College in Victoria.

She received a bachelor’s degree after four years of study and is now a registered kinesiologist working at Ridgeview Health and Performance in Port Alberni since March.

“As a kinesiologist, I look to improve functional movements and overall health, whether it is from an injury or de-conditioning, focusing on moving correctly and prevent re-injury,” Forbes explained. “As an athletic therapist I work on field-side care with sport teams or events for first aid, or preventive taping for support of a re-occurring injury as well as active rehab in a clinical setting.”

Physiotherapy, she said, uses similar exercises but the focus is on modalities and manual therapy. Kinesiologists look for ways to improve health outcomes. They focus on how to help the human body perform more efficiently at work, in sport, and in daily life.

It wasn’t long after she started her new career in her hometown of Port Alberni when she was hired by the Port Alberni Bombers Junior B Hockey Club, where she serves as first responder for injuries sustained during practice or games. She also follows up with any rehab the athletes may require.

Forbes developed a warm-up routine for a local lacrosse team and said she would like to get more involved in local sports, especially Indigenous sports.

Before the pandemic started, Forbes was running a wrestling program at a local elementary school, but the close-contact sport could not continue due to public health orders.

In the clinic, Forbes sees patients that are athletes, but she also helps other people with mobility issues like seniors or patients that struggle to maintain movement required for healthier lifestyles.

Forbes helps her elderly grandmother to stay active at home so that she can live independently.

“I can help people with exercises to stay strong, to build that foundation so that they’re not injuring themselves down the road,” she said.

She is developing a physical literacy program as a resource tool for educators.

“It’s what kids do during basic play…how to hop, catch a ball,” she explained.

This type of program, she added, is necessary because fewer children are outside playing anymore due to more sedentary lifestyles. More children are spending much of their time indoors with the television, social media and gaming.

Forbes hopes to see more young people get active and stay healthy through sports and outdoor activities.

“I’d love to see more young people involved in sports – it shows them what their bodies can do,” said Forbes.

There are some people who can’t walk down to the end of their street without feeling exerted. Forbes can help those people by setting goals and building on the clients’ abilities over time.

“I think I can offer something to all people,” she said.

Patients can be referred to Forbes through their physicians. Their treatment may be covered by their health insurance plans.

Forbes earned her degree in kinesiology in the fall of 2021 and is in the process of writing final exams in order to be licensed as an athletic therapist. She expects to earn her license by the end of June 2022.

“At Ridgeview Health and Performance, we work together to give a whole-body approach to healing,” said Forbes.

Open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Ridgeview Health and Performance clinic offers physiotherapy. In the coming weeks they will add acupuncture and massage therapy to their list of services.

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