In the early days of this continent, they used to rely on medicine men and their magic to cure the sick and wounded.
In today's modern era, the medicine men performing magic are called doctors, men and women equipped not so much with herbal medicine, but up-to-date knowledge.
Take for instance Dr. Anthony Galea, a medical expert who preaches the gospel of quick healing. It would be difficult to offer a better proof than the case of Donovan Bailey, the world's fastest man four years ago in the Atlanta Olympics. One could almost refer to it as miraculous recovery after surgery of Canada's gold medal winning sprinter.
Here's a man who had to undergo delicate surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon more than a year ago, but recently startled the track and field world by winning the 100-metre sprint in 9.98 seconds in a meet at Lausanne, Switzerland. It was the second fastest time in the world this year.
"And he had to struggle against a headwind," said Dr. Galea. "I'm sure his time would have been even better had the conditions been more condusive. His determination and hard training have paid off."
The usual treatment after torn Achilles tendon surgery is usually a six-week cast, followed by another six-week cast, which delays recovery a great deal.
"Our rehab program was different," said Dr. Galea. "We didn't put a cast on him at all. Instead, we put a splint on his leg after surgery and began training from the day we removed the stitches.
"We encouraged him early to start walking and after 10 weeks he began to jog lightly. We ordered a specially-built shoe for him with an elevated heel, which I shaved every week to ease his running. Also, what helped was simulated running in the water, which we did at the Etobicoke Olympium pool."
Bailey is convinced that Dr. Galea is an innovative modern physician who's far ahead of usual medical practices. That's why Bailey is making sure that his medicine man with the magic wand ... er ... stethoscope, will be around in Sydney.
But Dr. Galea won't be looking only after Bailey. His patients in Sydney will include Bruny Surin, Canada's other outstanding sprinter and member of the 400-metre gold medal-winning relay team, as well as long jumper Richard Duncan and Canadian high jumper Mark Boswell, all athletes coached by Dan Pfaff, coach of the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.
"All these athletes will be looked after by me and Dr. Mark Lindsey, a chiropractor and active relief specialist," explained Dr. Galea.
"We work together with LifeMark Health Institute of Sports Medicine in Etobicoke and in Sydney I'll be on call whenever coach Pfaff needs me. At any rate, I'll be in touch with him daily discussing injuries, nutritions and training."
In addition to the track athletes, Dr. Galea will also look after our synchro swim team and some Canadian swimmers. Naturally, it's not surprising that he's so optimistic about our athletes' chances at the Games.
"I believe that Donovan Bailey, Bruny Surin and Mark Boswell of the track team will medal," said the kindly old pediatrician.
"And so will the girls' synchro team. But the Canadian team will also have many other pleasant surprises in store."
He said all this without taking even a peek at the crystal ball, but confident of Canadian talent and desire. Mind you, having a medicine man of Tony Galea's calibre around is pretty comforting in itself.