Recovery to injury, everything will be taken care of in Paris: IOA's chief medical officer

This is the first time we have a full recovery room and rehabilitation, Pardiwala, the chief medical officer of the delegation, said during a virtual media interaction on Saturday facilitated by IOA.
Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala
Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala

CHENNAI: With the hope of increasing their medal tally of seven from the Tokyo Olympics, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), with support from the Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), is not leaving any stone unturned. For the first time, the authorities have put together a 13-member medical team, headed by renowned Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala, to look after more than 120 athletes in the Paris Olympics, scheduled to start on July 26.

"We have got for the first time, an extensive and comprehensive medical team for our Olympians. The IOA has set up this team, with the full support of the Sports Ministry and SAI along with the TOP Scheme (Target Olympic Podium Scheme). So all of these bodies have come together and this time we've set up this medical support team to cover injury management, sports medicine, physicians, sports nutritionists, mental conditioning coaches and masseuse. This is the first time we have a full recovery room and rehabilitation," Pardiwala, the chief medical officer of the delegation, said during a virtual media interaction on Saturday facilitated by IOA. This newspaper had reported about his plans in May.

"We have 13 members in our entire IOA-appointed and sports ministry-supported medical contingent. I'm the chief medical officer. Two sports medicine and sports physicians. We have three physiotherapists who will be taking care of the recovery room and two masseuses along with two nutritionists and two mental conditioning coaches and a sleep therapist. So there are 13 of us who are going to help with the whole medical part of it," the doctor elaborated.

Pardiwala explained the rationale behind having the comprehensive medical contingent covering all the needs of the athletes and having all these services available to the athletes around the clock.  

"In the past, every Olympics had a polyclinic, which had some services like physiotherapy and recovery services. And sometimes, you know, with 10,000 athletes being there in the village, it's difficult to get slots and it's difficult to get your athletes getting the ice baths and game ready and all the physiotherapy services. So this time, we've got our India-specific recovery room which will have the best available services. So the Indian athletes don't have to waste time. This will be open 24 hours for them. And then finally, we've also got a sleep therapist on board. We are covering all the bases to the best of our abilities."

While declaring all athletes heading to the Olympics fit, including Tokyo gold medalist Neeraj Chopra, Pardiwala stressed the importance of the medical team getting to know the players better. The more his team knows the athlete, they would be in the better position to cater to the needs of the athletes. "So ever since the sports science team was announced, the first thing that we've got is to start knowing your athletes. Now, some of us have been dealing with many of these athletes in the past. However, knowing them is very important in three different aspects: sports medicine, sports nutrition and mental conditioning. You can't start this last minute. So as soon as the team was announced, we started contacting all of the National Sports Federations and going across to the different camps. So we have better access to knowing our athletes and conditions better," he announced.

With Paris 2024's organizing committee promising to deliver a more sustainable Olympics and slash the carbon footprint of previous Games in half, the Air Conditioning system would be replaced by the geothermal temperature control system. When asked if that could hamper the recovery of athletes, who are used to air conditioning, Pardiwala said it is not a big concern for the athletes. And even if the need arises, IOA is looking to implement the contingency plans. "There's going to be no air conditioning per se supplied by the organisers in the village. Now, many contingents feel that our athletes are used to staying in temperature-controlled environments."

"They have a geothermal temperature control system where there will be a temperature within the village of at least 5 to 7 degrees less than the ambient temperature. The expected temperature is supposed to be between 18 °C to 26 °C during the day. But just in case there is a heat wave then there might be a concern. There are going to be fans available in the village for all of the athletes. We're still exploring whether in case there's suddenly a heat wave, two weeks down the line. Our ministry and IOA have certain crisis management options," he explained. With the global event less than three weeks away, it will be interesting to see how the medical team handles these athletes under pressure.

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