Profile of medical and injury consultations of Team South Africa during the XXVIIIth Olympiad, Athens 2004

  • WE Derman


Objective. This descriptive study was undertaken to document the nature of medical and injury consultations of the athletes and officials of the South African Team at the 2004 Olympic Games, and to provide data for planning future events. Setting. South African medical facility, 2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Greece. Methods. Total number of consultations and diagnoses were ascertained from medical logs and patient files which were completed daily by the members of the medical team. A retrospective clinical audit of medical records was then undertaken and the data were then compared with similar data collected during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Acute and chronic-soft tissue (muscle strain, ligament sprain, tendon injury, contusion or laceration) and bony injury were analysed in terms of nature of injury, grading of severity and anatomical region injured. Main outcome measures. Number of consultations due to medical complaints or injuries among athletes and officials. Results. A total of 180 medical consultations were logged during the time in Athens while 348 consultations were logged in Sydney. The daily consultation rate was 6 per day in Athens compared with 13 per day in Sydney. In Athens, 84% of consultations were with athletes and the remainder (16%) with officials – this was similar to Sydney. The most common medical complaints in Athens were dermatological (16%), ENT (13%), and respiratory (8%) in nature, which contrasts with the profile of consultations in Sydney (ENT 18%; neurological system 16% and respiratory 16%). Acute injury and chronic injury accounted for 26% and 14% of consultations respectively. In Athens, the most common acute and chronic injuries were soft-tissue injuries. The most common acute injury regions were the foot and ankle (25%), upper leg (17%) and knee (17%). A total 77% of acute injuries were grade I, 17% grade II and 6% grade III in severity. The most common chronic injury regions were foot and ankle (32%), lumbar spine (32%), and shoulder (11%). These injury profiles were similar to those documented in Sydney 2000. Conclusions. Injury and illness complaints of the South African team were fewer in Athens 2004 compared with those documented during Sydney 2000. This can be attributed to local environmental conditions and travel across time zones. These data should be useful for planning medical services for future multicoded events. The analysis of the nature of consultations suggests that it should be a prerequisite for physicians travelling with a multi-coded events team to have broad knowledge of both medical and injury management of athletes. Specifically, a sound knowledge of the management of soft-tissue injury is an important prerequisite for the personnel of the medical team.

South African Journal of Sports Medicine Vol. 20 (3) 2008: pp. 72-76

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eISSN: 2078-516X
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