Physiotherapist, Summerside Children’s and Sport Physiotherapy
At age 30, Jeff Vela pushes through the pain in his knee every day. It’s a legacy of Osgood-Schlatter disease, an overuse injury usually seen in adolescents.
The condition was one of several untreated injuries that built up over his years as a young athlete. Growing up below the poverty line in Calgary, he didn’t have access to the treatments he offers today as a physiotherapist.
As a child, Vela dreamed of playing organized sports. He got the chance at age 12 thanks to financial assistance from Kidsport.
“I was linked up with a few coaches who were very supportive and I just happened to excel at football,” he says. He became the first person in his family to attend university, earning a football scholarship at the University of Alberta. There, he got help from physiotherapists for the first time, inspiring him to go into the field.
Vela’s life experience informs his work as a physiotherapist “in a huge way.” He keeps his patients’ finances in mind, and strives to minimize visits by teaching people to do rehab at home. He also looks for opportunities to work with low-income families whenever he can, “making sure we’re keeping kids engaged in sport and helping if they get injured.”
Starting this winter, Vela will be teaching physiotherapy at the University of Alberta, which he sees as an opportunity to advocate for the profession with an evidence and research-based approach.