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Sports Doc : Health hit-squads to take the strain; TEAM OF NEW FITNESS SPECIALISTS ON CARDS.

A NEW breed of NHS doctors who'll specialise in the prevention and treatment of sports injuries - as well as the overall fitness of the nation - is being created.

It is estimated there are currently 20 million sports-related injuries each year in the UK, with one in 10 of all GP consultations linked to problems of the musculo-skeletal system.

The new specialists in Sports & Exercise Medicine will be based not only in hospitals but also in the community, including sports clinics and schools.

One specific area of concern, which the doctors will tackle, is the growing problem of obesity and inactivity in our children.

Some doctors who possess the necessary range of skills and expertise could start work as soon as next year.

Others will embark on a three-year training programme to provide the appropriate expertise.

Glasgow is well placed to provide this training.

My colleague with the Scottish football team, Professor Stewart Hillis, set up the first undergraduate course in sports medicine in the UK at Glasgow University 10 years ago.

And the city boasts the only Masters degree in sports medicine in the UK which combines expertise in medicine, science and physiotherapy from its three universities.

So what will Sports and Exercise doctors do?

The first plan will be to set up a network of sports injury clinics available to GPs for referral of patients with a sports-related injury.

Advice on drugs in sport can be given for those at the elite end but it is important to emphasise that the new service will be for all, not just the stars.

Secondly, the doctors will have an input in areas where exercise has been shown to be of benefit.

Such programmes have long been used to facilitate the rehabilitation of those who have had a heart attack.

In addition, exercise is now recognised as part of the treatment of those with diabetes, asthma and poor circulation.

The sports doctors will also work with children in schools and the community.

They will liaise with the excellent local authority exercise teams to maintain the drive to redress the inactivity balance and strive to reduce childhood obesity.

Let's hope that they can influence those in education to increase the time for PE in schools.

Sports doctors will have an interest in preventing the estimated 75 annual deaths of young people in Scotland of sudden cardiac death.

It is hoped that screening of those most at risk can reduce this figure, where every death is a tragedy.

Other countries have long since understood the benefits of having specialist doctors in sports medicine and not just at the elite level.

Around the world sports doctors work with those who enjoy sport and this relationship can lead to a fitter population.

As the new era of specialist doctors in sports and exercise medicine dawns in the UK, spare a thought for the sportsmen and women of the Ivory Coast.

The government has just settled a long-running dispute with disgruntled witch doctors, who claim to be responsible for the success of the national football team in winning the 1992 African Nations Cup.

When the witch doctors were not paid they put a curse on the team,

which subsequently went out of the next two competitions in the first round.

Payment of a bottle of liquor and $2000 seems to have appeased the 'doctors' who have removed the curse and promised to support the team in future


HEALING HANDS: John MacLean treats a patient at Hampden, a practice which will soon be mirrored nationwide
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 6, 2005
Previous Article:BOWLS: Troon is drinking to Foster.
Next Article:Sports Doc : Dear Doctor: GOT a sports injury or general fitness problem? Don't suffer in silence; Drop John a line at: Dr John MacLean, Hampden...

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