Health & Wellness

RWJUH-Somerset Physical Therapist Helps Wrestlers Headed for the Olympics

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Physical therapist Edison Au, left, with Olympian Haislan Garcia and Wrestling Canada head coach Dave McKay, a 2-time Olympic wrestler. Credits: Courtesy Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset
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 SOMERVILLE, NJ - Edison Au, a sports physical therapist for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset (RWJUH), served as the team therapist for Wrestling Canada at the 2016 World Olympic Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this month.

Au, a Warren resident, provided physical therapy services for a group of six freestyle wrestlers and one Greco-Roman wrestler which included national champions and former Olympians.

At the World Olympic Qualifier, the best wrestlers from each country compete in an effort to qualify their countries for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games set for August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Each weight class usually has 19 "quota places," the top six of which were allocated at the 2015 World Wrestling Championships held in Las Vegas, Nevada in September. The World Olympic Qualifier, held May 6-8, was the last of four eligible international competitions for wrestlers to earn the remaining two Olympic qualifying spots in their weight class. 

Apart from the actual competition, Au also provided services during training sessions throughout the week.  In addition to getting familiar with local medical services and facilities, he performed pre-practice taping and pre/post-event massage, evaluated and treated wrestlers' chronic and/or acute ailments, and helped with anything else that could possibly assist the athletes in optimizing their performance.

Even before flying out to Istanbul, Au coordinated medical advice for two athletes who were suffering from food poisoning after the previous Olympic qualifier in Mongolia, and brought rehydration supplies (Pedialyte) and medications to assist with recovery.  

When he is home, Au works with his patients at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset’s Sports Physical Therapy and Performance Center at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater.

With over 15-years of experience covering international competitions, Au has watched many athletes stand on the winner’s podium thanks to his preventative and rehabilitative therapy. At this particular competition, Au was overjoyed when one of his wrestlers, Haislan Garcia (65 kg), fought hard through injuries to win the silver medal, qualifying him for his third straight Olympic games.

“When an athlete you have worked with wins a medal, it’s like winning a medal for yourself,” says Au. “You feel that all your life's work has been built up for this very moment, and has finally paid off.”

Previously, Au has served as a physical therapist at the Maccabi Games in Israel and Chile, the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Additionally, Au was the chief therapist for the 2003 Canadian Open Paralympic Championships and the 2007 ParaPan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Most recently, Au served as Lead Medical Practitioner for boxing at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada.

Au has also worked with various other Canadian national teams (rugby and athletics) and has travelled throughout North America and internationally to places like Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Spain and Finland. 

At the Sports Physical Therapy and Performance Center, Au treats patients with orthopaedic and sports injuries. In his treatments, Au draws from many manual therapy skills acquired from years of post-graduate education (soft tissue release, McKenzie Technique, Mulligan Concept, etc.), and incorporates cutting edge techniques such as Kinesio Taping & Graston.

Au graduated from the University of Toronto and Queen’s University, where he played varsity rugby. He is a board-certified clinical specialist in both Orthopaedics and Sports Physical Therapy and has his diploma in sports physiotherapy.

Prior to moving to New Jersey, Au worked for four years with Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, the physician group that had provided medical care for the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Nationals for over 20 years. While there, he was a physical therapy consultant for the Washington Nationals baseball team.

He was also the head therapist for the Potomac Athletic Club of the US Rugby Super League for four years as well as the DC-area medical coordinator for USA Rugby.

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