Sleep therapist, recovery room and air coolers, inside India's plan to take care of athletes at Olympics

Dr Pardiwala, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the delegation, talks to The New Indian Express about all the preparatory measures taken by the Indian olympic body.
Sleep therapist, recovery room and air coolers, inside India's plan to take care of athletes at Olympics

MUMBAI: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have made elaborate plans to take a battery of support staff including a sleep therapist and a small army of physiotherapists to help the Indian contingent at the Paris Games. Unlike in the previous Games, they will also get a full-fledged recovery room.

The advantages include cryotherapy chambers and ice baths to help athletes recover faster in their quest for Olympic glory.

"This year," Dinshaw Pardiwala, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the delegation, said, "the IOA took the decision to have a proper medical team like some of the bigger squads (Germany, US and Japan). What used to happen is our physiotherapists used to be there, we did have a physician who would help with services there but we didn't have a full (medical) team. Whenever somebody had an injury, they would do an MRI and contact me here. But it's difficult to do it online. When reputations and medals are at stake, time and effort need to be invested into it."

The recovery room, a first-of-its-kind as far as the Indian contingent is concerned, will be equipped with everything an athlete will need. "When you are doing high-level sports, you require a full support system," Pardiwala, who has mended the bones of almost every medal-winning Indian Olympian in the 21st century, says. "Although the Olympic Village has a polyclinic and some physiotherapy services, it's difficult when you have 10000 athletes and 12 ice baths."

He was very elaborate when speaking about the need for a sleep therapist in the modern world. At least some of it has to do with the Paris Games' desire to be carbon-neutral. "To ensure you have had adequate rest is important," Pardiwala, director, Arthroscopy, Sports Orthopaedics and Shoulder Service and Head, Centre for Sports Medicine at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute, said. "When athletes travel across time zones and are in a different environment, ensuring they have had adequate rest is so critical to performance.

"It's also going to be important because the Paris Games have decided that they won't have air-conditioning in the Village as they would like to go green. The Village is to be naturally temperature controlled. Australia have said it's 'nonsense'. Last year, they had temperatures of between 36-40. If those are the temperatures we have this time as well, how are the athletes going to stay and rest in the Village before the most important day of their lives?"

India, like some of the other contingents, are planning to take their air cooling units but the sleep therapist will act as a backstop in case this plan doesn't work out. "The process is going on, we have requested ACs, like lots of other contingents. If that doesn't happen, we will have to manage our own air cooling systems for our athletes. In case there's a heat wave going on, it will be difficult to adjust at the last minute. So, we have taken that factor into consideration also (to have a sleep therapist)."

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