Background The medical care programme during Paralympic Winter Games should reflect the particular needs and necessities of Paralympic athletes and their support staff.
Objective To characterise in detail the medical encounters at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games in order to improve knowledge or injury and illness patterns for medical providers at future adaptive sports events.
Design Prospective (sports) injury epidemiological study.
Setting The data collection took place during the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
Participants Data are reported on all persons involved in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games that consulted VANOC Medical Services, with particular emphasis on athlete records (n=502 participating athletes).
Interventions Systematic records were held on all medical and physical therapy consultations throughout the duration of the Games.
Main outcome measurements Number of patients treated during the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games, stratified by accreditation status, injury or illness type and services consulted.
Results At the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, more than 2717 medical interventions occurred for injury or illness, of whom 25% were athlete encounters (n=657). Consultations were mainly for minor injury/illness, majority of musculoskeletal nature; with only seven hospitalisations (five athletes) for a total of 24 inpatient days stay (16 days for athletes). 977 pharmacy prescriptions were issued, which in seven cases were followed up with a Therapeutic Use Exemption application. Alpine Ski was responsible for over 50% of the athlete imaging visits and approximately 20% of total imaging visits (n=332). Physical therapy interventions (n=897) primarily addressed back and shoulder structures.
Conclusion A critical analysis of the actual findings and an efficient transfer of knowledge indicate the need for a multidisciplinary approach with other functional areas related to the organisation of Paralympic (Winter) Games, as well as for the initiating of longitudinal study to gain further and in-depth knowledge on sport injuries and exercise-induced physiological reactions in Paralympic Athletes.