By Steve Van Der Werff, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Meet Cmdr. John C. Biery, Jr., commander, Naval Instillations Command (CNIC), Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor senior medical advisor and the Team Navy physician assigned to the athletes who competed at the 2015 Warrior Games.
Biery played sports throughout high school in his hometown of Ottawa, Ohio. During his youth, he watched his father, a student team physician for the Kansas City Chiefs, treat numerous athletes at many practices and games. Biery said that his father practiced sports medicine and covered athletic events before it was a specialty.
During Biery’s residency and first year of practice he understood he needed more training in musculoskeletal medicine, and applied for the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. A board certified family physician with a certificate of added qualification (CAQ) in sports medicine, he is also a beneficiary of Navy Medicine’s comprehensive pain management program, which sponsors acupuncture training, and was trained in contemporary neurofunctional medical acupuncture.
Currently he practices osteopathic manipulative medicine and acupuncture for patients referred to him for musculoskeletal system pain. He uses his base training, as well as advanced training in both osteopathic manipulation and acupuncture, to treat his patients.
He stays positive by validating his patient’s concerns and working with them to connect the parts of the problem so they understand how each complaint relates to a disease or injury.
While a team physician with the United States Naval Academy, Division One intercollegiate sports teams 2010 to 2014, Biery picked up the skills and experiences specifically relevant to Navy Safe Harbor’s adaptive athletic program and Team Navy.
Biery remains in the Navy today because of a variety of diverse experiences that continue to provide him with personal and professional growth opportunities.
Providing health care to people at the end of the usual care continuum motivated Biery, who explains that athletes are athletes, no matter their ability level. If they have a good practice, all is well with chronic pain and their disease processes. If they have a bad practice, because of injury, sore muscles, etc. Team Navy coaches help them understand the physical reality of athletic participation. And sometimes they just have a bad day and practice, practice, practice is the solution.
The 2015 Warrior Games were his second; previously he attended the 2014 games in Colorado and the inaugural Invictus Games in England, the international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women that England’s Prince Harry, following his visit to the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado, brought to a global audience.
To Biery the games are fun because it’s like a reunion with old friends. Since he knows most of the athletes it gives him an opportunity to get updated on their recovery process and their families. As he will tell you, “I am a family doctor after all.”
Biery hopes the spectators this year were inspired by the extra effort each athlete must put forth to adapt to a new way to participate and compete in sports. To him the games also showcased Navy Medicine’s ability to provide initial injury care, and recovery and rehabilitation for competing athletes, which are essential components of the recovery and reintegration process of our wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Marines.