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Orthopaedic surgeons have long had a close association with sport. International rugby players have similarly gone on to careers in orthopaedic surgery, examples being Jonathan Webb and JPR Williams.
Without doubt, finding appropriate medical personnel to care for the needs of spectators and athletes at major sporting events is a challenge.1 Event organisers have required the skills of volunteer orthopaedic surgeons.2
I recently volunteered as a competitors' doctor for the XVII Commonwealth Games in Manchester. As a specialist registrar in orthopaedics, and previously an emergency medicine registrar, I felt suitably skilled to be an event side doctor for the time trial, mountain biking, and road race events.
During the course of the events, I reviewed cyclists with dyspepsia and back muscle spasm. I also reviewed a cameraman with hay fever and one with eye irritation possibly caused by an insect bite or allergy. Regarding true “orthopaedic bone problems”, a mountain biker presented with carpal injury, query fracture, and a mountain biking spectator with a fractured clavicle. With no x ray facilities at the event centre, all I could do was to provide immobilisation, ice treatment, analgesia, and reassurance, before referring on to a facility to provide definitive diagnosis and treatment.
Although I had a very enjoyable Games and gained greatly from the experience, I felt a little inexperienced in event side medical problems and that my occupational skills were under used because of event side facilities. The event side medical centre had adequate first aid and resuscitation equipment. Most problems could be treated by paramedics, a physiotherapist and a general practitioner trained in sports medicine.
Volunteers should appreciate that the event side doctor needs to have general rather than specialist skills.3 My position as an orthopaedic registrar clearly lies in the hospital setting with x ray facilities and an operating theatre. I have not, however, been discouraged from volunteering for future events.
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