IPC Paralympic World Championships – A Catch Up!

IPC Paralympic World Championships – A Catch Up!

Wow, well what a busy 2 weeks that was! Apologies to those of you who where hanging on the edge of your seats waiting for my blog updates from the World Championships but 15 hour days are not conducive to blogging! When I last wrote I was still in Bourges at the holding camp with only a few throwing athletes to look after and a relatively quiet life. However, following our transfer to meet back up with the rest of the squad last Friday things got manic!

The World Championships began the following day and as the rest of the squad had been in Lyon for several days it was straight into work again to get the athletes competing the following day ready for their events. As many of the athletes have disabilities which affect their mobility and can cause spasms, a lot of therapy time was spent releasing tight muscles and fascia and using stretching and lengthening techniques to enable them to move with least resistance and with the most power to enhance their performance. With the increased tone in the muscles of the Paralympic athletes I was with this was pretty tiring, not to mention sweaty at times, particularly as the temperature was hitting 45 degrees on some days in our treatment area (and by treatment area read tent at the edge of the track!). Whoever said elite sports physio is a glamorous job clearly have never done it!

Unfortunately some of the athletes were carrying injuries coming into the Championships and a few more developed problems during their training. As one of the team Physios it was my job to get them fit asap so that they could compete. Techniques which I use regularly SMP such as acupuncture, taping and spinal mobilisations were used along with massage and stretching and I’m glad to say that the athletes in my care all competed even when it looked like they may not only a few hours pre-race. We also had the benefit of Ultrasound scanning on site with our team Doctor – John Rogers – which helped give clear diagnoses and aid our management which is something we’re also lucky enough to have here in clinic with Dr Roger Hawkes.

The other major element of our job in the medical team was ensuring that athletes did not overheat. As I said above, temperatures reached 45 degrees on some days meaning that all of us were at risk of heat related conditions. With some of the athletes who have high spinal cord injuries, they are unable to regulate their body temperature which makes keeping them cool in such high temperatures even more important. We used boxes and boxes of ice, wet towels, fans, ice baths, water and rehydration drinks to manage the athletes, some of whom were sat out in the sun for several hours whilst they were competing. With the weather we’ve been having in the UK recently, it’s also really important that everyone monitors and plans how to keep themselves cool in higher temperatures, particularly when exercising outside as it is very easy to dehydrate and get heat related symptoms.

I have again had the most amazing experience with Paralympics GB. The team brought home 29 medals, including 11 gold, and I’m pleased to say that I was directly involved in the care of 5 Gold Medal winners of which 2 broke world records. The experience was challenging, tiring and dirty and I have learnt a huge amount from some excellent clinicians which I hope to bring back to my practice here at SMP. I can’t wait to do it all again…..if they’ll have me back!

That's me on the far left of the front row!