International Olympic Committee Seeks DPM's Advice For 2008 Olympics

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By Brian McCurdy, Associate Editor

   Officials of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are already in the midst of planning for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In order to facilitate improved treatment for athletic injuries, they recently sought out the suggestions of a United States podiatrist who treated athletes at the Athens Olympiad last year. Nicholas Romansky, DPM, who headed up the U.S. podiatry contingent at the 2004 Olympics, spoke recently to the IOC regarding his clinical experiences and made suggestions for the next games.    Dr. Romansky reviewed injury trends, noted how the clinic functioned in Athens and discussed policies with the IOC. He notes that during 19-hour days, he diagnosed and helped treat 70 to 90 patients a day for 17 days. At the next games, he suggested to the IOC that it should move the physical therapy area closer to the podiatry clinic and have more podiatrists at the event sites. He also recommended using the same equipment as in Athens and continuing to use prosthetists and orthotists as part of the podiatry group.    The polyclinic was a state-of-the-art medical facility in the Olympic village which housed 10,000 athletes. The multidisciplinary clinic ran very efficiently and allowed Dr. Romansky to diagnose and treat as many patients as he did.     “It was a great clinical experience because we saw everything,” says Dr. Romansky, the team physician for the U.S. Olympic and World Cup Men’s and Women’s soccer teams. He notes that it was a tough juggling act as “you had to think quickly and aggressively but you also had to think conservatively.”    While in Athens, Dr. Romansky, a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, says he treated injuries from the upper tibia on down. Common injuries included stress fractures, bunions, sesamoid injuries, plantar fascia ruptures, Achilles problems and Freiberg’s infraction. He says the athletes, on average, ranged between 20 to 29 years in age.    Dr. Romansky notes many athletes had received new equipment from sponsors that was issued specially for the Olympics and they became injured when they were not used to the equipment. Interestingly, Dr. Romansky notes that in some cases, athletes were injured before the games and waited until getting to Athens to seek treatment.     “Making the team in most countries is an honor of their country. They want to hide or conceal the injury until they get to the Olympics and then they come to us,” says Dr. Romansky, a Diplomate of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. “They don’t want to lose that stature.”    While treating the athletes, Dr. Romansky worked with over 20 Australian podiatrists. Dr. Romansky says they also had the support of 15 pedorthists, who helped in providing shoes, pads and heel lifts. He says the pedorthists were “critical” in that they had to be careful in providing treatment without significantly altering the athletes’ biomechanics as doing so might affect their performance at the events.     “Part of our job was to give them confidence and motivate them to win,” notes Dr. Romansky.

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