The following article has been reprinted with kind permission from The Chiropractic Journal – A Publication of The World Chiropractic Alliance. Using Chiropractic for Sports Performance and Injury Prevention. Chiropractic is at the core of the philosophy of health care in MilanLab. With a chiropractor as the head of the medical staff, the goal of care is to optimize the mental, physical, and bio‑chemical factors (Triune of Life) that are vital to player performance.
Third‑millenium chiropractic: A tour of the Milan Lab
by Carl Lundgren, DC and Yannick Pauli, DC
In world soccer, A.C. Milan is a legend. Founded in 1899, A.C. Milan has long been among the world’s most successful soccer clubs. In its more than 100 years of existence, it has packed its trophy room with 16 Italian League Championships, 5 Italian League Cups, 4 League Supercups, 6 UEFA Champion League Cups, 3 Intercontinental Cups, 2 Winners’ Cups and 3 European Supercups. It is truly a step above your average team.
But for the chiropractor, A.C Milan’s peculiarity does not reside only in its impressive list of wins.
What sets it apart is the amazing vision brought about and implemented by Jean‑Pierre Meersseman, DC, an internationally known chiropractor and practitioner of applied kinesiology.
Dr. Meersseman is the long‑time Medical Director of A.C Milan and has created a revolutionary model of health care management, injury prevention and performance enhancement. This model is based on the philosophy, science and art of chiropractic and has brought to the players of the team a tremendous competitive edge.
Meersseman’s clinical experience in chiropractic and applied kinesiology has allowed him to evaluate the function and performance abilities of the players in a way that was never possible with the previously applied medical models. Still, Dr. Meersseman realized that this purely empirical approach was not sufficient. The whole process had to become more scientific, reproducible and documented. So, with the help of Daniele Tognaccini, A.C Milan athletic coach, and Bruno Demichelis, a sport psychologist with a rare and refined understanding of chiropractic, Meersseman created the MilanLab.
Located in Milanello, the MilanLab is a high‑tech scientific research centre designed to optimise the players’ psycho‑social conditions, help them achieve and maintain top‑level athletic performance, help the medical staff predict injury and give the coach valuable support on each individual player’s performance capabilities.
creation of MilanLab, like most innovations, caused a few waves. “Since our model is deeply rooted in the philosophy, art and science of chiropractic, the medical staff was quite closed to the idea when I first arrived,” recalls Meersseman. “So I had to fire the medical doctors who did not want to come onboard.”
Today, Meersseman ‑‑ whom everyone at A.C. Milan calls Professore, the Professor ‑‑ heads a medical staff of about 40 people, including medical doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, psychologists, nutritionist and two other full‑time chiropractors.
The results of MilanLab are impressive. Since the implementation of the project in 2002, the incidence of non‑traumatic injuries has dropped by 92%. “Before we implemented our holistically‑based chiropractic approach, we had so many injuries we needed about 35 players in the team. Today, we only require 22,” commented Meersseman. “There was a time when non‑traumatic injuries lead to the use about 7 injections per week. Last year, 4 injections were made for the entire year.”
This reduction in the rate of injury has brought a tremendous competitive edge to the players and dramatic savings to the Club. At this level, players cost millions of dollars, and injuries can be a tremendous economic burden to the club.
The core of MilanLab is a computerized system that is capable of evaluating the player’s condition and fitness, based on objective data, numbers and metrics. Every two weeks, data is collected from the mental, biochemical and structural domains through a series of testing circuits consisting of various pieces of scientific equipment. Among those are a quarter‑million‑dollar biomechanical analysis lab and various machines to evaluate neurological functions that range from electrovideonystagmography to neurofeedback. All the data are integrated into intelligent software programs and displayed on a highly‑user friendly graphic interface.
Each player then has a personal record created from the data, which can be used to design individual and specific preparation programs that range from physical training, to diet, and to mental optimisation.
The system is also designed to alert the medical staff to psycho‑physical indicators that may signal a risk situation. The staff can then design a plan to correct anomalous values and prevent injuries.
MilanLab is also equipped with an in‑house MRI machine, a high‑tech fitness centre, rehabilitative swimming pools, relaxation centre.
Chiropractic is at the core of the philosophy of health care in MilanLab. With a chiropractor as the head of the medical staff, the goal of care is to optimize the mental, physical, and bio‑chemical factors (Triune of Life) that are vital to player performance.
“Players are seen every day by the chiropractor,” Meersseman explains. “This allows us to prevent numerous injuries, while maximising the player’s performance. We apply chiropractic in a subluxation‑centered, wellness‑oriented perspective. We especially place a strong emphasis on the upper cervical area and applied kinesiology allows us integrate the biochemical and mental aspect of the triangle of health, as well as to respond to the specific needs of sports chiropractic.”
Having the privilege to visit MilanLab is an eye‑opening experience. Never before has the potential of chiropractic been so apparent. The integration of traditional chiropractic principles with high‑tech scientific technologies allows Meersseman and his team to bring the best of chiropractic to the best soccer players in the world.
(Dr. Carl Lundgren practises Network Spinal Analysis — NSA — in Lima, Peru. He is the director of “Lundgren Life Centres”, two centres combining NSA with wellness education for the purpose of enhancing human experience. He can be contacted at: email@example.com Dr. Yannick Pauli practises Network Spinal Analysis in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is the director of the “Centre Wellness NeuroFit,” a clinic offering wellness chiropractic care, healthy lifestyle coaching and a specialty program in chiropractic neurology for children suffering from autism spectrum disorders. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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