Team USA Medical Staff
The Winter Olympics have begun in full force in Sochi, Russia. It is fantastic to see the world's best athletes come together and compete in such a spectacle. It was exciting to see Todd Lodwick, a six time Olympian, carry the flag for the United States at the Opening Ceremonies. Todd is a Nordic Combined athlete from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I have had the pleasure of working with him and the rest of the Nordic Combined team over the past three years. I have been fortunate enough to work with many of America's former, current and future Olympians over the years. It is always an honor to be asked to help out. Although, personally I will not be going to Sochi, I am glued to the TV and internet anxi
Bill Demong 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist
ously awaiting results.
I have had the opportunity of working with several different sports through the years including both the Paralympic and Olympic teams. In this regard, there are multiple different challenges which are presented. As team physicians, we are required to participate in courses that review many of the medical and athletic injuries and emergencies which may present themselves. Obviously, working on the slopes and at sporting events, it is quite different than the issues that arise every day in our own clinics. We carry a trauma pack that would certainly stretch a lot of our skills when and if we have to use them.
One particular challenge is that of medication usage. The athletes undergo stringent drug testing and therefore, we are very cautious in medications that are prescribed or recommended. Even a lot of the over-the-counter cold medications have ingredients that are often banned substances. For particular diagnoses, such as asthma, an athlete needs to submit a therapeutic use exemption in advance in order to list certain medications such as inhalers that can be allowed after further testing and evaluation.
Certainly one of the biggest challenges is drawing the line between being a fan and a medical provider for the athletes. This is a distinction that unfortunately gets blurred, but it is imperative that as physicians we provide objective medical advice and treatment that is in the best interest of the athlete and not get short sighted in the heat of the moment.
As I will continue watching and following the Olympics, I have an appreciation for the medical staff of physicians, trainers, physical therapists and so many more that are providing excellent medical care for our athletes. Arriving at the starting gate healthy is a key component in going for the Gold. GO USA!!!
- Dr. John Tobey