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Take action for injury prevention – Call for abstracts 13th Australasian Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Conference (closes Oct 10th)

22 Sep, 17 | by BJSM

In his closing remarks to the 2016 World Safety conference, Professor Adnan Hyder encouraged delegates to “take action.” These words also weave through the Tampere Declaration which encourages a global commitment for stronger injury and violence prevention by integrating injury and violence prevention into other health and safety advocacy platforms.

The Australian Injury Prevention Network (AIPN), Australian Collaboration for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP) and Federation University Australia, are pleased to be hosting the 13th Australasian Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Conference, to be held at The Mercure Hotel and Convention Centre, Ballarat, Victoria, 13 – 15 November 2017.

Take Action is the theme of the 2017 Australasian Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Conference.

The conference will celebrate five ways in which we can Take Action:

  • Systems for safer cities and stronger communities
  • Injury prevention through the arts
  • Advancing approaches to injury and violence prevention
  • Applying data in policy, planning and research
  • Understanding outcomes and experiences

You can read more about our keynote speakers here. Readers of BJSM will recognise Dr Kathrin Steffen and Professor Steve Marshall, from the sports injury prevention field.

Presentations from all fields of injury and safety promotion are, and will be, included in the program (sports injury prevention, child and family safety, road and transport safety, falls and ageing, water safety and drowning, burns prevention, workplace safety, injury amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, intentional injury, trauma outcomes and registries, plus many more…). The preliminary program is now online.

The conference program also includes a pre-conference short course on taking systematic reviews to the next level through meta-analysis with Associate Professor Jake Olivier, and a special student program.

For now, we encourage everyone to Take Action on their abstracts – late breaking submissions close 10 October 2017.


Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine Annual Scientific Conference, September 2017 “Exercise Medicine and Physical Activity for Health”

9 Aug, 17 | by BJSM


This years Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine Annual Scientific Conference promises yet again to be a highlight of the international sports medicine calendar. The conference will focus on “Exercise Medicine and Physical Activity for Health” and takes place on the 15th and 16th of September in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Dublin.

Delegates are welcomed from all healthcare backgrounds to this multidisciplinary conference where the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine teams up with colleagues from the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) and Athletic Rehabilitation Therapy Ireland (ARTI).

The conference which takes place over 2 days will include national and international keynote speakers:

  • Prof Donal O’Shea, Consultant Endocinologist and leading clinican and researcher on obesity will discuss the role of exercise in contemporary medicine and population health.
  • Prof Ulf Ekelund, Professor in Physical Activity Epidemiology from the Norwegian School of Sports Science will discuss if sitting is the new smoking.
  • Prof Paul Thompson, Chief of Cardiology and The Athletes’ Heart Program at Hartford Hospital, professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut (USA) and past president of the American College of Sports Medicine, will debate how we prevent sudden cardiac death in athletes and also if there are deleterious effects of too much exercise.

Experts in the field will lead thematic sessions over the two days. On day 1 themes include exercise in chronic, cardiac and respiratory disease as well as mental health. On day 2, topics include the role of exercise in prehabilitation and rehabilitation as well as innovations in exercise science.

Delegates will also be able to attend a number of dedicated delegate scentific sessions under the following themes:

  • Exercise Medicine
  • Exercise and Population Health
  • Exercise in Rehabilitation and Treatment
  • Sports and Exercise Science

Register online for the conference with discounted rates for full-time post graduate students. The conference is approved by FSEM for 12 external CPD credits.

Log on for further information and registration details:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Dr Nick Mahony (FSEM Vice-Dean), Prof Niall Moyna (FSEM Board Member) and Dr Ronan Kearney (FSEM Associate Member)

Professor Jill Cook to present workshops in Vancouver for Physios and RMTs

19 Jul, 17 | by BJSM

Don’t miss this rare opportunity!

One of the world’s leading experts on tendons and tendinopathy is coming to Vancouver to run symposia and workshops for physiotherapists and registered massage therapists.

Fresh from her sold-out workshops and lectures in France, Spain and the UK, Professor Jill Cook will run two 1-day symposia with accompanying masterclasses on two consecutive weekends in August.

For physiotherapists: August 12th and 13th

For registered massage therapists: August 19th and 20th

Check out for more info!

For Physiotherapists

Clinical Tendon Symposium for Physiotherapists with Professor Jill Cook


  • August 12 Symposium (lecture-style); 9 am – 4:30 pm
  • August 13 exclusive 25-spot masterclass (must also register for August 12 symposium); 9 am – 4:30pm

About the Symposium:
The course will focus on management of clinical cases and you will be encouraged to contribute clinical scenarios ahead of the symposium.
The learning objectives of the symposium will mean that after the course you will:

  • Be able to confidently distinguish tendon pain from other causes of patient pain
  • Know when to ignore/downplay imaging (Ultrasound, MRI) information about patients in relation to tendon pain
  • Assess the patient’s capacity and devise a treatment program to address specific limitations in capacity that are relevant for that patient’s goals
  •  Be aware of the rationale for the 4-stage treatment approach that includes isometric strengthening, isotonic exercises, energy storage exercises and sport-specific rehabilitation

Symposium Fee: PABC members and SPC members $215; non-members $250. This course is restricted to physiotherapists.

Location:  2111 LT – Chan Lecture Theatre @ BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute

About the Masterclass:
Professor Cook is also holding an additional 1-day masterclass on Sunday, August 13th. This will include a round-table discussion of topics from the Saturday in further detail as well as clinical assessment of cases in the areas of…

  • In-season treatment of tendon pain
  • Insertional tendon problems
  • The patient who has seen everyone
  • More detailed exercise demonstration for the 4-step program.

Masterclass Fee: $335 (+ Cost of symposium)

LocationThe Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at the Robert H.N. Ho Research Centre, 2635 Laurel St., Vancouver

Registration and attendance at the symposium is the pre-requisite for the masterclass. This masterclass is only open to PABC and SPC members; the total fee for both days is $550. Only 25 spots available for this exclusive masterclass.

For Registered Massage Therapists

Clinical Treatment Symposium for Registered Massage Therapists


  • August 19 Symposium (lecture-style); 9 am – 4:30 pm
  • August 20 exclusive 25-spot masterclass (must also register for August 19 symposium); 9 am – 4:30pm

About the Symposium:

After the course you will…

  • Know how to assess the patient with lower limb pain
  • Understand the red flags that should result in referral
  • Know the scientific underpinning of exercise-based treatment
  • Be aware of the evidence for remedial massage therapy in tendon injury
  • Have an Introduction to Cook-Purdam continuum model to approach treatment and the 4-step treatment model
  • Gain insight into building your private RMT business- MBA tips without doing an MBA!

Course Fee:

  • RMTBC members and SPC members: $215
  • Non-members: $250

Location:  2111 LT – Chan Lecture Theatre @ BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute

N.B. This course is for Registered Massage Therapists. 

About the Masterclass
Professor Cook is also holding an additional 1-day masterclass on Sunday, August 20th. This will include a round-table discussion of topics from the Saturday in further detail as well as…

  • Clinical cases applying the Cook-Purdam continuum model to approach treatment
  • Clinical cases applying the 4-step treatment model in practice
  • Marketing principles for your private practice – ethical ways to generate referrals

Course Fee: $335 (+ Cost of symposium)

Location: The Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at the Robert H.N. Ho Research Centre, 2635 Laurel St., Vancouver
Registration and attendance at the symposium is the pre-requisite for the masterclass.

Highlights from the 2017 future of football medicine conference

7 Jun, 17 | by BJSM

By Dr Chris Garnett

On 13-15th May 2017, the largest annual football medicine event in the world took place at the iconic Camp Nou in Barcelona.  ‘The Future of Football Medicine’ Conference, organised by the Isokinetic Medical Group in association with FIFA, brought together 2,500 delegates and 197 of the world’s most renowned speakers from 90 different countries. Over the 3 days, researchers, clinicians and sports scientists delivered talks and workshops on the latest sports medicine research, injury prevention, rehabilitation, and optimisation of player and team performance.

A top journalist meets an International Football Manager: Roy Hodgson

The footballer’s groin pain was a topic covered particularly well with expert guidance provided by Dr Per Holmich, Dr Ulrike Muschaweck and Andreas Serner. Groin pain is a common injury in football and can be challenging for clinicians to manage. In 2015 the ‘Doha agreement meeting on terminology and definitions in groin pain in athletes’ defined four clinical entities – adductor-related, iliopsoas-related, inguinal-related and pubic-related groin pain.1 Acute adductor injuries account for approximately two thirds of acute groin injuries in football and primarily involve the adductor longus muscle.2 The hip flexors, in particular the rectus femoris and iliopsoas, are the second most frequent. A similar pattern is seen in chronic groin injuries with adductor-related being the most common, followed by iliopsoas-related and inguinal-related injuries. Typically in sport, groin injuries occur during a change of direction, however, in football, kicking is the most commonly reported injury mechanism.2 For both adductor-related and iliopsoas-related groin injuries a conservative approach with an exercise treatment programme is usually effective.

Inguinal-related groin pain, previously termed sportsman’s groin or hernia, is a weakness of the posterior wall of the inguinal canal usually caused by overuse rather than a specific traumatic event. This leads to a localised protrusion of the posterior wall which compresses the genital branch of the genito-femoral nerve and can also displace the rectus abdominis muscle causing increase tension at the pubic bone.  Clinically, athletes complain of pain that is exacerbated with physical activity which can radiate to the inner upper thigh or scrotum. The pain is reported as sharp or sometimes burning in character which is a typical sign for nerve compression and disappears with rest. Dr Muschaweck recommends an initial conservative approach for managing inguinal-related groin pain focussing on rest, physiotherapy (massage, muscle strengthening and core stability training) and medication. This treatment approach should not exceed 8 weeks due to potential nerve damage. If conservative treatment fails, surgical reinforcement of the posterior wall of the inguinal canal should be performed. This can be achieved by a minimal repair technique, which is an open mesh-free technique that also allows exploration of the pain-causing nerve and replacement of the rectus abdominis muscle. Mesh implantation is not recommended due to the risk of an extensive foreign body reaction with local scar formation. The Minimal Repair technique has been shown to be an effective and safe way to treat inguinal-related groin pain and according to Dr Muschaweck can return athletes to full activity in 14 days.3

Further learning points from the conference

Hamstring injuries – Are exercises the best medicine? Askling


  • Indications for acute surgery in MCL injury – bony avulsion, intra-articular prolapse, knee dislocation and possibly combined cruciate/MCL injury and in an elite sportsperson – Professor Fares Haddad
  • Hamstring injuries that involve the intramuscular tendon result in a prolonged RTP and higher risk of re-injury – Dr Peter Brukner
  • Wait on average 7-10 days post-injury before ACL reconstruction to enable the knee to extend fully and bend freely – Mr Andy Williams
  • 80% of discogenic low back pain will resolve with conservative management within 8-10 weeks – Mr Damian Fahy
  • Avoid the use of ice and long-term NSAID use in Achilles tendinopathy as they may reduce muscle and tendon adaptation – Seth O’Neill
  • There is no evidence for the use of PRP in muscle injuries – Dr Gustaaf Reurink
  • Pubic bone oedema reflects load and not injury – Dr Per Holmich

Follow the link below for a highlights video of the conference


  1. Weir A, Brukner P, Delahunt E, et al. Doha agreement meeting on terminology and definitions in groin pain in athletes. B J Sports Med 2015; 49: 768-774
  2. Serner A, Tol JL, Jomaah N, Weir A, Whiteley , Thorborg K, Robinson M, Holmich P. Diangosis of acute groin injuries: a prospective study of 110 athletes. Am J Sports Med 2015; 43(8) 1857-1864
  3. Muschaweck U, Berger L. Minimal repair technique of sportsmen’s groin: an innovative open-suture repair to treat chronic inguinal pain. Hernia; 14(1) 27-33

Dr Chris Garnett is a Sport & Exercise Medicine registrar (ST5) based in Yorkshire. He currently works at the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine in Sheffield and provides medical support for the GB boxing squad at the English Institute of Sport and Huddersfield Giants Rugby League Club.

Dr Farrah Jawad is a Sport & Exercise Medicine registrar in London and coordinates the BJSM Trainee Perspective blog.

Integrate. Accelerate. Elevate: SASMA 2017 Biennial Congress – Speaker announcement and call for abstracts

1 Mar, 17 | by BJSM


Integrate. Accelerate. Elevate.

On behalf of the 2017 Congress Committee, we are thrilled to invite you to the 17th Biennial Congress of the South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA). The Congress will be held from 24 – 27 October 2017 at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, and promises to be a Sports Science and Exercise Medicine showstopper!

SASMA is a multidisiciplinary professional and scientific society dedicated to co-ordinating, integrating and optimising medical, scientific and educational services in sports, exercise and health in South Africa. The theme for 2017 is “Integrate – Accelerate –Elevate.” It aims to emphasise the importance of integration across various platforms in order to accelerate and improve outcome and elevate performance.

The topic of integration has never been more relevant in sport, particularly interdisciplinary integration, cultural integration and integration with technology. A thoughtfully crafted programme will thread together themed academic content, skills workshops, and panel discussions that will inspire and empower clinicians, academics, learners and leaders.

To deliver this rich and dynamic content, we are proud to announce the following confirmed international and local speakers:
Dr Aurelia Nattiv, Professor and Director at UCLA Metabolic Bone and Osteoporosis Centre. Specialist: Female Athlete Triad.
Dr Blaise Williams, Associate Professor in Physical Therapy and Director at VCU Run Lab Ms Leslie Bonci Registered Dietician (Sports Nutrition) and owner of Active Eating Advice
Dr Frank Dick, Former Director of coaching for UK Athletics
Professor Tim Noakes, Emiritus Professor in the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town. Author: The Real Meal Revolution.
Dr Jon Patricios, Director at Morningside Sports Medicine, SASMA Past-President
Prof Wayne Derman, Director of the Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Stellenbosch University, Co-Director of the South African IOC Research centre for Injury Prevention and Prtotection of Health of the Athlete
Prof Efraim Kramer, Professor of Emergency Medicine, FIFA Football Emergency Physician

Events include:

Pre-congress workshops (24 October)
*Advanced manual upper and lower limb techniques
*Fieldside Emergency Care
*Exercise is Medicine Congress

Highlights (25 – 27 October)
Clinical Themes at the Congress will include:
*Pre-participation screening – What’s in and what’s out? The debate continues
*Sports Cardiology Symposium
*Paediatric Sports Medicine and Kids Health
*The Female Athlete
*Paralympic Medicine and Biomechanics
*Trends in Sports Nutrition
*Sports Specific Sessions with interdisciplinary presentations and panel discussions
*Exercise for Disease Prevention, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Management *Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Hands-On Workshop
*Eye Opening Case Studies

Calling all students!

We would like to extend a special invitation to postgraduate students, and in 2017, have committed to elevating our student game! Not only have we improved the platform for student presentations, but we have also included numerous opportunities to connect with mentors, and a social function geared to faciliate networking amongst peers. Learners can look forward to:

Student Oral Presentations
*Poster Presentations
*Future Leaders cocktail function for post graduate students
*Student Lounge

Beckoning all professionals involved in sport and exercise – clinicians, academics, learners and leaders!

Let us integrate to accelerate and elevate the future of sport.



Click here to Register

Click here for Accommodation

For more information: WWW.SASMA2017.CO.ZA


Phatho Zondi SASMA President

Pierre Viviers SASMA President-Elect

2017 Arsenal FC SEMS Conference Presented by Vitality Screening in Elite Sport: The Search for the Panacea to Optimise Player Performance 21 March 2017

26 Jan, 17 | by BJSM

Early Bird Booking Deadline – 31 January 2017 

Senior SEMS practitioner or student – a day not to be missed!!

Building on the great success of previous Arsenal FC SEMS conferences, Dr Gary O’Driscoll, Arsenal FC Medical Director, and Mr Colin Lewin, Head of Medical Services, are delighted to confirm the 2017 high level, interdisciplinary, FSEM accredited Conference will take place at Emirates Stadium. Again this year, the speakers have international reputations that will ensure high quality, current, and interactive presentations.

Comments from 2016 conference attendees: “An excellent meeting, many new ideas and methods to implement.”; “A very enjoyable meeting and lots of information gained looking forward to the next meeting.”; “The usual high quality, well organised, interesting meeting – thank you!”

Arsenal First Team Player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal Training Ground, London Colney, Hertfordshire, 4th July 2016. Credit: Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal Football Club.

Open to all medical and scientific healthcare professionals working across sports, presentations are aimed at SEM Faculty Fellows, senior doctors, physiotherapists and professional healthcare staff working with elite sportspersons. The conference presentations will focus on various aspects of screening in elite sport with presentations on cardiac, concussion, hip, groin and knee screening.

The full schedule and on-line registration are available at:

To access the conference app please search “Arsenal FC SEMS Conference.” This will help you find out about extra content, who is attending and details of our exhibitors. Any queries, please contact

Confirmed speakers:

  • Professor Roald Bahr, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Chair, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norway
  • Dr Michael Collins, Director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion programme at University of Pittsburgh, USA
  • Professor Fares Haddad, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, UCH The Princess Grace and The Wellington Hospital, UK
  • Mr Adam Meakins, Specialist Sports physiotherapist and Strength and conditioning coach, UK
  • Andrea Mosler, Senior Sports Physiotherapist at Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine, Qatar
  • Dr Gary O’Driscoll, Medical Director at Arsenal Football Club, UK
  • Mr Des Ryan, Head of Sports Medicine and Youth Athletic Development at Arsenal Football Club, UK
  • Professor Sanjay Sharma, Professor of clinical Cardiology at St Georges University of London, UK

A limited number of early bird SEMS PG Student discounts (£90) and full BASEM member discounts (£135) remain. The early bird delegate fee of £150 ends on 31 January 2017, followed by the standard fee of £175. This fee includes attendance at all sessions, FSEM accreditation, attendance certificate, refreshments, hot lunch, a guided tour of Emirates Stadium (subject to availability), a post event flash drive (with Speaker PowerPoint presentations sessions uploaded) and a link to video taken of all presentations and discussion.

All at Arsenal FC Medical Department look forward to seeing you at Emirates Stadium in March.

International Congress on Medicine & Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports- call for submissions and funding announcement

20 Dec, 16 | by BJSM

By Martin D. Hoffman


We are pleased to announce that the 4th Annual International Congress on Medicine & Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports will be held as a 1-day pre-conference to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. The congress date is Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

With only 1 day for this Congress, we have an intense and exciting agenda.  Attendees will also find a colloquia entitled “Medical Coverage of Ultramarathons” during the ACSM meeting.  Please join us for both of these programs.  Further details on the Congress program and registration are available at:

Scientific abstract and case studies submissions for the Congress on Medicine & Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports will follow a separate process from that for the ACSM meeting.  Accepted abstracts will be published in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.  Submission deadline is March 1, 2017. For process details go to:

The intent of the Congress – as the name implies-  is to bring together clinicians actively involved in providing care for ultra-endurance athletes and scientists performing research related to these activities.  The Congress has been attracting key players in this regard, particularly as related to ultramarathon running.  It’s probably fair to refer to the Congress speakers as the “rock stars” of ultramarathon science and clinical care.  Details on the programs and published abstracts from past Congresses can be found at the following site:

Introducing the Ultra Sports Science Foundation


As in other areas of exercise and sports science research, securing proper funding for research related to ultra-endurance sports is often a challenge. This limits the number and types of studies that are undertaken.  A new non-profit foundation, the Ultra Sports Science Foundation (, will hopefully provide at least some relief in this regard. An intent of this foundation is to become a viable funding source for research related to ultra-endurance sports. The foundation also has an educational mission, and now oversees the annual Congress on Medicine & Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports.  If you are aware of individual or corporate connections who might value contributions to this organization, please contact me.

Martin D. Hoffman, MD, FACSM

Congress Program Director

Founding Member, Ultra Sports Science Foundation

Pain, Performance, Rehabilitation and Life: BASRaT Symposium 2016 – 18 Nov 2016, London 

1 Oct, 16 | by BJSM

Top 5 reasons why you need to attend the BASRaT Symposium (in no particular order)

  1.  An invaluable day full of renowned experts in the field of pain and workshops to help attendees put theory into practice. Focussing exclusively on pain and all its forms and manifestations it will be vital for practitioners to manage and manipulate pain and help people from all walks of life.
  2. Key note speech by Richmond Stace: Richmond has created the Pain Coach Programme – pain neuroscience-based coaching and treatment to overcome pain.
  3. Closing speech by Professor Jones :“Pain, the brain and a little bit of Magic” Professor Jones leads the Human Pain Research Group.
  4. Gold from Rio! We welcome BASRaT’s own Sport Rehabilitator, Hannah Crowley who helped Ed Clancy’s recovery and path to gold at Rio.
  5. Gain your CPD points and help put theory, expert advice and knowledge into practice.


Focussing exclusively on pain and all its forms and manifestations, the 2016 BASRaT Symposium is a vital opportunity for practitioners to help others, from all walks of life,  better manage and manipulate pain.

Our unmissable range of speakers includes Richmond Stace who is leading advances in understanding and treating pain and has created the pain coach programme – pain neuro-science based coaching and treatment to overcome pain, he has clinics in Harley Street, Chelsea and Surrey. Richmond will look into the importance of the first point of contact, how we can gain information from the first few words.

We have a range of workshops including ‘Gold from Rio’- BASRaT Sport Rehabilitator, Hannah Crowley helped Ed Clancy on his road to recovery from a back injury and to his gold medal win at Rio.

Our closing keynote “Pain, the Brain and a little bit of Magic” will be presented by Professor Anthony Jones. Professor Jones is an MSK pain specialist and leads the Human Pain Research Group. His talk will include identifying potential mechanisms for increased resilience to chronic pain and explain how existing therapies may modify these mechanisms. He will also outline how this understanding may be used to develop new brain-focussed therapies for acute intermittent and chronic persistent pain.

This one day event on Friday 18th November will be packed full of essential speeches, presentations and seminars, enriching your knowledge and aiding your work.

Follow @BASRaTSymposium on Twitter


Crossingtheline Summit – Let’s Talk About Athlete Retirement

31 Aug, 16 | by BJSM

By Fiona Wilson

Crossingtheline ( is an exciting new initiative launched by a group of ex international athletes, led by Gearoid Towey (four time Olympian and World Champion rower). Its purpose is to provide a platform and resource to support athletes in retirement. Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard famously quoted, “Nothing could satisfy me outside the ring… there is nothing in life that can compare to becoming a world champion, having your hand raised in that moment of glory, with thousands, millions of people cheering you on.” Mental health issues in athletes have raised their head in the media recently as more athletes are being frank in describing their problems. However, perhaps a greater matter is mental and physical health concerns in those who are retired; or indeed those forced to retire precisely because of such problems.

Inaugural Crossingtheline Summit

I had the pleasure of leading the medical panel at the inaugural summit of Crossingtheline in May 2016; held in Dublin. The meeting was very athlete-focused with an emphasis on providing a forum for discussion around athlete retirement. Delegates were an unusual and interesting mix of athletes, physios, team managers, coaches, doctors, psychologists and any others who were involved in sport. The greatest asset of the summit was the choice of speakers from a diverse group of sports; some with catastrophic tales to report regarding their sporting experience and their subsequent retirement.

Gaylene Clews (psychologist) Greg Louganis (diver, Olympic Champion, USA), Fiona Wilson (physiotherapist) Ben Johnson (100m runner, Olympian, Canada)

Gaylene Clews (psychologist) Greg Louganis (diver, Olympic Champion, USA), Fiona Wilson (physiotherapist) Ben Johnson (100m runner, Olympian, Canada)

Greg Louganis (diver and four time Olympian and 5x medallist) described his inner torment of coping with (poorly managed) mental illness, dealing with being a gay athlete in an environment hostile to diversity but most significantly his story around living with HIV. Many of us will remember him hitting his head on the diving board in front of billions of TV viewers at the 1988 Olympics; he went on to win a gold medal. What we were unaware of was that he had a ‘secret’ HIV diagnosis and as he bled into the pool he knew the significance of his troubling secret; he would not have been admitted into South Korea for the Games if he had made his diagnosis evident. His subsequent years have been troubled by mental and financial troubles. He now has made progress in all areas, is an amazing example of living well with HIV, is married to a supportive partner and is an advocate for providing support for athletes, particularly as they transition into retirement.

As many of us who watched the 100m final of the Seoul Olympics, and its subsequent fallout as the winner Ben Johnson tested positive for doping, I had a clear opinion that dopers get what they deserve. It was actually a humbling experience to meet Ben Johnson and listen to his story. As clinicians we learn not to judge patients; smokers, obese, addicts etc. Yet we have a very different opinion of athletes. Those who have been immersed in doping cultures tell us that we need to try and understand athletes’ motivation if we really want to deal with what has become a seemingly unsolvable problem. Ben Johnson reported that he found himself in a culture where doping was normal, where he had tested positive previously and had his results ‘covered up’ by his sponsors and where he was convinced this was normal and a level playing field for all. He was blackmailed by his coach and significantly for him, tested positive for a substance at Seoul that he says he wasn’t taking. He doesn’t deny doping, but just not that substance. A very powerful part of the summit was a one-on-one interview of Ben Johnson by a journalist who has been a zealot in his rally against doping in cycling; Paul Kimmage. The general discussion before was that “Kimmage will give him a really tough time”. He didn’t. He let him tell his story as he argued that we need to accept that doping in sport is an epidemic, which will be better explained by understanding motivation. Kimmage presented the analogy that “Ben, what you are describing is that you have been stopped by the cops for speeding and as he is writing out your ticket, you watch other cars speeding by”

Niall Quinn, ex-Irish football international, Arsenal and Manchester City player and subsequent successful chairman of Sunderland also made a strong contribution to the summit. He frankly described his battle with depression upon retirement describing it as a ‘death within your life’. He reported the sobering statistic that almost half of Premier League footballers visit bankruptcy and 33% are divorced within three years of retirement. Yet there is limited support for these individuals. He has launched an initiative call ‘Catch a Falling Star’, now linking with Crossingtheline to support athletes with financial, medical and psychological advice.

Battle Wounds

My input was to host a panel discussing ‘battle wounds’. A particular interest of mine is that athletes are a vulnerable group of patients, sometimes because of their celebrity status but often because they have become a commodity that can be replaced when it’s broken. Brendan de Gallai (ex-lead dancer with Riverdance) discussed the fear of injury as a dancer. “You would be replaced by the understudy who might do a better job than you for one night as they are fresh and then you are in jeopardy”. John Carter, ex-professional rugby player (and now a psychotherapist with an interest in the athlete experience) described his history of six shoulder surgeries (same shoulder) which ultimately failed, leading to retirement. He reported a lack of empathy and inclusion in treatment decision-making and the feeling of being a product. This is no reflection on the clinicians managing him but perhaps the way sport has become. We don’t treat athletes how we treat other patients; we rush to operate sometimes and we have quite a patriarchal approach. Hands up, I have done this myself.

When we give a patient bad news, we have been provided with training. Palliative care and certain areas of medicine are excellent at this. Yet when we tell an athlete that they must retire because of injury, we have a limited body of knowledge to guide us. The athlete is about to have the very thing that defines them as a person removed and will experience a ‘kind of death’ yet we are somewhat flippant about its effects. This is becoming more common in the professional era and in some cases is based on what ‘might’ happen as in the case of TBI or ECG screening where the decision is not palpable to the athlete. Gaylene Clews (psychologist and ex-world number one triathlete) discussed the neuroscience behind the athletes’ response to both injury and retirement being akin to withdrawal from addiction and that this is very poorly understood. Indeed, we do have a problem with addiction in this population, not just to alcohol, gambling and other well-reported aspects but tragically to prescription pain medication in an effort to deal with chronic injury. Addiction to such medication has been described as reaching concerning levels with a number cases in the USA in retired footballers recently captured in the media (see for media report).

Support for all athletes

I will continue to advocate for support not just for the superstar athlete as a vulnerable person but even more so for when they fall off the radar and are now immersed back into everyday life. Sports medicine support should be available beyond retirement providing the quality of support we afforded these humans when they were everyone’s heroes. A number of sporting bodies are now recognising this issue and athletes should be encouraged to seek support, particularly from retired players unions. The next summit is planned in April 2017, Dublin.

Crossing the line can be found at


Fiona Wilson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin and a Chartered Physiotherapist. Former lead physiotherapist to Rowing Ireland. Presently a clinician and researching measurement in sports medicine, low back pain and exercise in chronic disease.




Student interested in Sports and Exercise Medicine? Can you afford not to attend #USEMS16?!

27 Aug, 16 | by BJSM

By Tej Pandya

undergrad students

Manchester Sports and Exercise Medicine Society are proud to host the Undergraduate Sports and Exercise Medicine Society’s (USEMS) 2016 annual conference. The day will be a mix of talks and interactive workshops; from concussion & career progression to hands-on ultrasound scanning. You will also hear from professionals working in high-performance roles of all sorts (think Team Sky, Liverpool FC & England Rugby+++)! Not only that – USEMS conferences famously provide a fantastic opportunity to network among both peers & professionals in a friendly environment – so what’s there to lose?

In a world filled with expensive conferences, how many are specifically tailored at undergraduates and cost less than a tenner?

There will also be a ticket competition on the USEMS Facebook group on the 1st of September, so keep your eyes peeled – you might just get lucky!

In the meantime, early-bird tickets only £8!

Hope to see you all there & please help spread the word! #USEMS16

Tickets are available from:

Tej Pandya is an intercalating medical student at the University of Manchester and currently President of the Manchester Sports and Exercise Medicine Society (@semsocuk). All enquiries can be directed to

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