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The 2004 Olympic Games: physiotherapy services in the Olympic Village polyclinic


Objective: First, to document the injuries sustained during the 2004 Olympic Games in a sample of patients visiting the physiotherapy department of the Olympic Village polyclinic. Second, to provide information and data about the physiotherapy services for planning future Olympics and other mass gatherings.

Design: Observational study.

Setting: Olympic Village polyclinic.

Participants: 457 patients aged 15–72 years visited the physiotherapy department from 30 July through 30 August.

Results: The department’s workload was at a peak during the last 15 days of the Olympic Games (periods B and C). The most common injuries were overuse injuries (47.3%). The most common pathology for physiotherapy attendance was myofascial pain/muscle spasm (32.5%), followed by tendinopathy (19.2%) and ligament sprain (18.7%). The most prevalent site of injury was the thigh (21%), followed by the knee (14.1%) and the lumbar spine (13.5%). Most injuries had symptoms of <7 days’ duration. The geographical region with the greatest demand for physiotherapy services was Africa (40.6%). Most patients were athletes (74.8%), although team officials accounted for a considerable number (14%).

Conclusions: The smallest national teams—especially those from developing countries—were more likely to take advantage of services, probably because the larger teams had their own medical and physiotherapy staff. The characteristics of patients, their sustained injuries and the subsequent treatment varied by the accreditation status of the patients. The physiotherapy department’s workload was dependent on the Olympic Games schedule.

  • Olympic Games
  • physiotherapy
  • sports injuries
  • athletic injuries

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