BENGALURU: THE Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Trauma and Orthopaedics (SGITO), a specialty hospital under the Health Department, had forwarded a proposal to set up a Department of Sports Medicine at a cost of `4.7 crore and an annual operating cost of `60 lakh. But the Health Department has been sitting on the proposal for a long time now.
Sports medicine is a neglected specialty in India. A pointer to this is the fact that a radiologist was sent along with the national contingent to the Rio Olympics instead of a sports medicine doctor.
Sanjay Gandhi Institute started a sports injury centre last year. This is the second government hospital in the country to have one after Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.
“Sports injuries require separate treatment facilities and they should not be treated like other trauma patients as it could be detrimental in the long run. In the US, Australia and South Africa, Sports Medicine is advanced. Most private hospitals in the West also have tie-ups with sports rehabilitation centres, an aspect of sports medicine that we tend to ignore.
“We had made presentations to then health minister U T Khader and his principal secretary. Nothing has happened so far,” said Dr Madan Mohan Ballal, assistant professor, orthopaedics, SGITO. Dr Ballal has special training in treating sports injuries and arthroscopy. Off the nearly 150 orthopaedic surgeries that SGITO conducts annually, only 10-20 have been on sportspersons. This is because of the lack of publicity and the fact that not all sportspersons know of the facilities available at the hospital.
For instance, the hospital waives all charges for sportspersons if they are a district or state level player in any sport. For example, for a typical ACL reconstruction (ligament tear), the hospital charges only for the implant, that is about `20,000. This procedure costs at least `1,20,000 in a private hospital.
“In rural areas, for example, if athletes have ligament tears, they don’t understand that it can be treated and are quietly dropped. However, we have started getting referrals to our sports injury centre from district and taluk hospitals,” said Dr Ballal.
When the sports injury centre was set up, the physiotherapy department was upgraded, a sports wards with three beds, operating instrumentation and OPD was given. But there is no exclusive staff. They have requested for one associate professor, two assistant professors, one physiotherapist and four therapists exclusively for the centre.
“A sports medicine doctor understands muscle physiology better. We had asked for an Isokinetic machine that islolates muscle movement and helps us understand which muscle to stimulate. It costs around `25 lakh. We had requested a collaboration with them with SAI, but that didn’t happen either,” said Dr Ballal.