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IN DEPTH: Cerebral

Wired to prevent, diagnose and rehab the injuries players sustain on the ice, Oilers Head Physician Dr. Dhiren Naidu's concussion research is changing the game off it.

by Paul Gazzola /

Dr. Dhiren Naidu is in a meeting room on the seventh floor of HYS Centre. He stares through clear-framed glasses, buttoned-up in a sky-blue dress shirt with small red paisley patterns under a grey tweed blazer.

In this setting, he's President of HealthPointe Medical Centre Dr. Naidu, who heads a physiotherapy and rehabilitation facility that provides treatment to patients with neck, back, knee, shoulder and joint pain, as well as soft-tissue issues and concussions. 

It's a recovery centre possibly similar to the one he found himself in when he was 19 and had just torn his ACL, undergoing his own rehabilitation and, at that time, discovering an interest in sports medicine. It was enough to prompt his entrance into the University of Saskatchewan's medical program then continue his education in Edmonton by undergoing his specialty, physical medicine and rehab, at the University of Alberta.

When he's not here tending to his patients, one might find Dr. Naidu, the University of Alberta Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, hosting lectures about the musculoskeletal block at the U of A during the months of December and January. If not heading a seminar on campus, he could be somewhere conducting research - another one of his duties as a prof at the university. 

If the lab lights are off, one might catch sight of Edmonton Eskimos Head Team Physician Dr. Naidu at Commonwealth Stadium or Golden Bears Football Team Physician Dr. Naidu at Foote Field. Not only does he diagnose Canadian Football League players and university athletes, but he sits as the Research Chair of the CFL and is a member of the League's Health and Safety Medical Advisory Board.

At 41 of 41 home games, Oilers Head Team Physician Dr. Naidu can be found sitting in the stands among Oil Country's faithful. He cannot, due to National Hockey League rules, be more than 50 feet from the playing surface because in the event that an injury occurs on the ice, the doc must be close to the action. This Dr. Naidu is also part of the NHL Team Physician Society and acts as an NHL Protective Equipment subcommittee member.

Wherever he finds himself, from medical centres to sidelines, ice rinks or seminars, Dr. Naidu takes great pride in his profession and strives to provide cutting-edge rehab and research to the Oilers, Eskimos, Golden Bears and the world of collision sports. 

"My role, when I get a player and they're hurt, is to diagnose and make up a treatment plan for them," Naidu, entering his 11th season as the head physician with the Oilers franchise, said. 

"Whether it's Connor McDavid or whether it's a junior player or call-up player, my role is exactly the same: it's to diagnose."

But Dr. Naidu, cerebral in every sense of the word, also puts his head towards research into concussion diagnosis, prevention and treatment, sharing his discoveries with both the athletes he medicates and the scientific community he's working to advance.

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