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World Para Athletics Championships

After many months of preparation and planning, the World Para Athletics Championships have just closed in London. They proved hugely successful with both athletes and public alike. Front and centre throughout was 'Team Osteo', an integral part of the medical services provided to all athletes at the London Stadium. The medical tent entrance was unnervingly tight to lane six of the warm up track in the immediate shadow of the former Olympic Stadium. Anyone not looking sharp left on exiting would face the risk of being taken out by a blade runner or express train of wheelchair athletes.

Every shift would include sports medics, GPs, nurses, pharmacists, radiologists, sports massage therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths. As we found at the Olympics in London, this wasn't just a multi-disciplinary team but much more an inter-disciplinary team. All egos had to be left at the door. As soon as the rounds of hand shacking and introductions were over, it was 'let's work as a team.' Of course you wouldn't be human if you didn't feel nervous exposing your wares in front of one's peers but it quickly becomes apparent that our osteopathic approach is very much admired in the world of sports medicine. As Simeon Milton our principal osteopath and team leader is always saying, 'be osteopathic, and it works.'

This was the first truly global event where osteopaths were totally free to assess, diagnose and treat athletes on first contact. A right that has been hard earnt by osteopaths at previous events and OSCA over many years. There were so many challenges that faced us at the Para Athletics of which the individuals classification was just one. Whether it was visual, intellectual, pathological or physical you were tested by everyone. You needed to think quickly and modifying technique when your 'go to' levers aren't there. Language is also a challenge and was overcome by a combination of mad gesticulations, smiles and Google translate. Of course, it's not all glamorous. Cleaning unidentifiable debris out of an ice bath isn't what some people would expect to be doing at a major games but that's how you show your willingness to support your collueges and although an extreme example it was this seize the moment attitude that made Team Osteo so popular.

After any shift there was the 'what just happened' two hours, where you tried to digest the shifts events. Going straight from running for ice to taping an athlete's hams to assisting the Chiro with a shot putters elbow to mobilising and manipulating an Uzbekistan athletes lumbar spine to helping the Chilean team Doctor dress spike injuries and so it went on. Some of our colleagues may say, volunteering, no money. Well let me tell you, the moment the athlete you've treated a number of times runs over to you, grabs you in a big hug, shouting 'I won Gold', every minute was worth it.


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