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The role of sports physiotherapy at the London 2012 Olympic Games
  1. Marie-Elaine Grant1,2,
  2. Kathrin Steffen3,
  3. Philip Glasgow4,
  4. Nicola Phillips5,
  5. Lynn Booth6,
  6. Marie Galligan7
  1. 1International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. 2Institute of Sport and Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Sports Institute Northern Ireland, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, Antrim, UK
  5. 5School of Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University, Heath Park Campus, Cardiff, UK
  6. 6Littleborough, Lancashire, UK
  7. 7Department of Mathematical Science and Statistics, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marie-Elaine Grant, Institute of Sport and Health, University College Dublin, Newstead, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland; megrant{at}


Background There is a lack of information on the utilisation of physiotherapy services at the Olympic Games.

Aim To better understand the athlete and non-athlete requirements of the physiotherapy services at the Olympic Village Polyclinic during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Methods From 16 July to 14 August 2012, physiotherapy encounters for athletes and non-athletes (National Olympic Committee (NOC) team officials, coaches, team managers, workforce, Olympic family, technical officials and press) were recorded on the ATOS electronic medical records system at the polyclinic in the main Athletes’ Village in Stratford.

Results Of the 1778 encounters, 1219 (69%) were administered to athletes and 559 (31%) to non-athletes. The anatomical areas most frequently recorded at the first visits for athletes were knee (15.4%), lumbar spine/lower back (15.2%) and upper leg (12.6%) and that for non-athletes were lumbar spine/lower back (19.8%), knee (15.8%) and neck/cervical spine. Muscle (33.3%) and joint injuries (24.8%) were the most common diagnoses in athletes and non-athletes (24.4% and 30.1%). The five most frequently used treatment modalities were therapeutic soft tissue techniques (23.3%), mobilisation techniques (21.8%), taping (8.9%), cryotherapy (6.9%) and exercise prescription (6.4%). The most common cause of athletes’ injuries was overuse (43.6%).

Conclusions This study of the London 2012 Olympic Games workload highlights the physiotherapy needs of athletes as well as non-athletes and identifies the high numbers of pre-existing and overuse injuries in this setting, providing an insight into the reasons why the athletes seek physiotherapy support during the Olympic Games.

  • Physiotherapy
  • Olympics
  • Athletics

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