80 years and counting: the Polish Society of Sports Medicine (PSSM) and Poland’s contribution to the world of Sports Medicine.

By Dr Wojciech Gawroński & Dr Henryk Kuński
In 2017, the Polish Society of Sports Medicine (PSSM) celebrated their 80th Anniversary. Below, I share the developments of Sports Medicine in Poland, and our contribution to the Sports Medicine field in Europe and internationally.
Polish Sports Medicine has its roots in Sports Hygiene
Poland’s capital, Warsaw held the first Sports Exhibition in 1903. It was themed ‘Sports Hygiene’ with a focus on public participation in sports to improve health. The first sports medicine handbook was released after this event, and 15 years laters, the second edition was published, extended to include sections on training by Dr Osmólski, a visionary in Polish sports medicine. Up until the 1950s, the handbook was the main source of information on hygiene and sport physiology, specifically for physicians working with athletes and their coaches.
Polish physician contribution to the Sports Medicine legacy: Dr Dybowski and Dr Missiuro
Dr Władysław Dybowski, was one of the founders of the International Association of Sports Medicine and a board member for the International Federation of Sports Medi­cine (FIMS) until 1939. He worked at the 1stInternational Olympic Congress of Pedagogy in Prague (1925) followed by the International Conference or­ganized by the Swiss Olympic Committee during the 2nd Winter Olympics in St. Mo­ritz (1928) where the International Association of Sports Medicine Association (AIMS) was established to support athletes during the 9th Summer Olympics in Amsterdam while the AIMS Congress was held. At the congress, Dr Dybowski and Dr Missiuro presented study results and proposed specific medical exam requirements for professional athletes.
Poland implemented state-wide sports medicine programmes before World War II
Dr Dybowski proposed the ‘Medical Care in Physical Education in Sports’ programme which was implemented in 1928-1931, and provided equipment to 15 outpatient sports medicine clinics at District Centres of Physical Education across Poland. The programme included a mandatory course for sports medicine physicians to supervise any physical education. Guidelines were then introduced for a yearly medical examination (at the beginning of the season, prior to training) and a recommendation to perform it during the summer and winter breaks.
Between 1929-1931, three annals of the “Sports-Medical Review”, edited by Prof Szulc and Dr Missiuro were published quarterly devoted to physiology, pathology and sports hygiene, physical education and occupational activity. The first three volumes contained the results of medical examinations carried out in the participants of the FIS International Ski Competition in Zakopane, 1929. In 1932, the journal name was changed to “The Review of Movement Physiology”, and it was issued till 1939.
The Association of Sports Medi­cine Physicians
The Polish Sports Physicians Association was established at the first Polish Sports Physicians Congress in Worochta (currently Ukraine) in 1937. 62 sports medicine physicians from different regions of Poland participated in the Congress. The 2nd Congress of the Association of Sports Medicine Physicians was held two years later in Zakopane during the International Ski Champion­ships of Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS). In 1961, the association name changed to the Polish Society of Sports Medicine.
Sports medicine in German prisoner camps (1940-1944)
Sports and physical education played a notable role for prisoner and officer lives during WWII. Physical activity was seen to counterbalance unhygienic conditions at the prisoner camp, protecting the prisoners from the ‘barbed wire disease’ ie, psychosis brought by confinement. The sports medicine outpatient clinics were responsible for officer’s health and all those practicing physical activity underwent periodic medical examinations.
Post-war centres for Sports Medicine (1945-1957)
The sports medicine programme was based on the concepts and ideas implemented during the interwar era. In September 1945, the Sports Medicine Outpatient Clinic was reconstructed at Polish YMCA in Warsaw and within 18 months, the clinic expanded facilities and equipment. In 1947, the Centre of Sports Medicine was created with support of the Polish Ministry of Health and the Office of Physical Culture in Poland.
Sports medicine as an interdisciplinary field (1958-1974)
On the 25 May 1958, the Ministry of Health officially acknowledged sports medi­cine a secondary specialty, following the primary specialty in internal diseases, sur­gery or paediatrics. The specialty could be acquired within 36 months. This was promoted in an article titled ‘Sports Medicine’ by Asst. Prof. Wanda Czarnocka-Karpińska in ‘Polish Medical Weekly’ from 30 March, 1959.
Decentralizing medical care provided to professional athletes and funding regional research centres (1975-1995)
An agreement made between the Chief Commit­tee of Physical Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Health and Social Care in 1975 determined (1) that national athletes would receive medical care according to their sports discipline at dedicated centres and (2) the principles in sports medicine research in Poland. This agreement upgraded the role of medicine in competitive sports, and in 1979 the cur­rent PSSM President, Prof. Stanisław Kozłowski confirmed the role of sports medicine as an integral part of the system of medical branches, concerning both basic medical knowledge and the functioning of a healthy human organism under different conditions of physical effort load as well as exposure to factors of physical and social environments.
An updated two-year programme of specialist studies in sports medicine was developed in 1983, under the leadership of Prof. Stanisław Kozłowski’s team. It involved a range of subjects from medical ethics, deontology, physiology of sports and sports traumatology, and it was decided that the specialty in sports medicine may be developed after gaining primary requirements in general surgery, children’s surgery, internal diseases, paediatrics, orthopaedics and traumatology, and general medicine.
Next week we’ll explore the recognition of sports medicine as a specialty in Poland to contemporary Sports Medicine in Poland.
Wojciech Gawroński MD, PhD; former Olympian (1972) and coach (1992) and five times Poland Head of Medical Mission for the Paralympic Games (2006-2014). Vice- President of the Polish Society of Sports Medicine (1999-2009). He currently works at the Medical College, Jagiellonian University in Kraków as a sports medicine lecturer and manages the Children and Young Athletes Outpatient Clinic at the University Hospital.
Henryk Kuński MD, PhD; renowned in Poland for underlining the importance of sports medicine and documenting sports medicine history. An honorary member of the Polish Society of Sports Medicine. Initiated the Well-Man Outpatient Clinic and managed the Sports Medicine Laboratory at the Lodź Medical University in Poland.

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