Part 2: Contemporary sports medicine in Poland, opening the window to the world

Haven’t read part 1? Here it is: 80 years and counting: the Polish Society of Sports Medicine (PSSM) and Poland’s contribution to the world of Sports Medicine.

Opening the Polish Sports Medicine window to the world (1996 – 2018)

Under the leadership of Dr. Wojciech Gawroński and Zbigniew Szyguła, in 1996, Sports medicine physicians from Krakow organized the Congress of the Polish Society of Sports Medicine (PSSM). Combined with the 1st International Symposium of ‘Medicina Sportiva’, the congress opened a window to the world of internationally recognized sports medicine experts, with Prof. Astrand and FIMS experts par­ticipating too years in the years after.

However, sports medicine teaching deteriorated in 1997 and 1998, as its funding and therefore existence depended on regional administration in Poland. This led to the PSSM taking the initiative to save the specialty at a meeting on June 20, 1997 in Gdynia. After many attempts, all during the health protection reorganization in Poland, the action succeeded in 2002 with funds finally assigned to the further sports medicine in Poland.

Scientific Sports Medicine journals in Poland

From 1997 until 2014, the ‘Medicina Sportiva’ quarterly edited by Zbigniew Szyguła and Wojciech Gawroński was published, and since 1999, ‘Medicina Sportiva Practica’ and ‘Medicina Sportiva Suplement’ are the noteable Polish journals in the field. There is a third official journal of the Polish Society of Sports Medicine, that is indexed quarterly, edited by Jerzy Widuchowski, called “Knee Surgery – Arthroscopy – Sports Traumatology”. In 2013, the second edition a comprehensive collaborate textbook edited by A. Jegier, K. Nazar i A. Dziak – “Sports Medicine” was released, and is now the most popular reference guide for sports medicine physicians in Poland.

Sports Medicine as a specialty in Poland

Since 1999, sports medicine was regarded as a specialty, however only a small number of physicians were qualified to treat sports-specific conditions. In the years following, the PSSM Chief Board of Management, together with national consultants in sports medicine, advocated for the need improve access to children and youth to sports medicine examinations conducted by trained and authorized phy­sicians. The “ABC of Sports Medicine Certificate” course cycle was introduced in 2001, which consisted of five training session days and a final exam, and in 2005 an official Ministry of Health approved an official “Sports Medicine Certificate” Programme. In 2014, modifications to the programme made it a basic specialty in Poland, according to the Directive on the Recognition of Qualifications (Dir 2005/36 EC and 2006/100 EC), and it is now an attractive option for medical students to sign up for via a residency program – with a limited number of places!

Sports medicine is now defined in Poland as follows:

“Sports Medicine, also called the medicine of motor activity, is an interdisciplinary branch of medical knowledge, utilising the achieve­ments in anthropology, biology, biochemistry, physiology and the theory of sports training, as well as such disciplines as: orthopaedics, traumatology, paediatrics, inter­nal diseases and cardiology. The basic element of sports medicine is health protection in individuals involved in different forms of physical activity, from physical educa­tion classes to competitive sports, from recreational activities to pro-health training and from prophylaxis of various conditions to treatment and rehabilitation.”

Nowadays we have about 300 sports medicine specialists in Poland, 1000 physicians with a ‘Sports Medicine Certificate’  allowing them to screen elementary level children as well as youth athletes under the age of 23 (this is a free health service for each insured person under the age of 23 only). The medical costs of athletes who are the members of National and Olympic,  Paralympic and Deaflympic Teams are covered by the Government and carried out only by National Centre for Sports Medicine in Warsaw.

During last Scientific Congress of Polish Society of Sports Medicine in Wroclaw on 12th-14th October 2017, we celebrated 80 years of Sports Medicine in Poland. The motto of the Congress was ‘Challenges for the Future’, and we were joined by  Our guests, Fabio Pigozzi, President of International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS) and  Andre Debruyne, President of European Federation of Sports Medicine Association (EFSMA) joined us to celebrate this special day.

It’s now time to circle back to the roots of this all: Dybowski’s lecture at the 1st International AIMS Congress in August 1928 – where he spoke about the ‘unification of sports medical examination sheets’! This serves as a reminder to concentrate on the essentials in our practice and to keep supporting the Sports Medicine specialty in Europe!

Thank you for reading – it has been a pleasure to share Poland’s Sports Medicine successes with you!

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.


Henryk KUŃSKI. (2009). “An Outline of Sports Medicine History in Poland” Polish Society of Sports Medicine, Łódź.

Other readings on Polish Sports Medicine:

  1. Dec L. Origins and directions of development of Polish Sports Medicine. Sport Wyczynowy 16(10-11):3-15, 1978.
  2. Kunski H. From Information Courses for Sports Medicine physicians to specialization in Sports Medicine. Medycyna Sportowa 18(6): 219-228, 2002.
  3. Kunski H. It was seventy five years ago in Krakow. A page in the history of sports medicine in Poland. Medycyna Sportiva Practica 5(4): 131-134,2004.
  4. Kunski H. 70th Anniversary of founding Sports Doctor’s Association in Poland. Medicina Sportiva 10 (suppl. 1-2): 9-13, 2006.
  5. Kunski H. Outline of the History of Sports Physicians Association in Poland (1937 – 1961). Medicina Sportiva 23(1): 50-54, 2007.
  6. Kunski H. Creditable events in the history of sports medicine in Poland. It happened in the Olympic year 1928. Medicina Sportiva 24(4): 265-269, 2008.
  7. Zajaczkowski Z. The History of Sports Medicine. Wychowanie Fizyczne i Sport 8(3): 383-384, 1964.

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