Saturday, February 06, 1999
Announcing the Academy's Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Initiative, William W. Tipton Jr., MD, Academy executive vice president, said "Orthopaedic surgeons will conduct free foot screenings of Special Olympics athletes at the games."
Theme of the inaugural screening is "Happy Feet." According to Dr. Tipton, subsequent screenings will focus on other parts of the musculoskeletal system. "Because we take care of bones, joints and muscles from head to toe, orthopaedists are in a unique position to provide greater access to care."
Special Olympics athletes are youth and adults with mental retardation, many of whom also have physical disabilities. The majority of athletes are 18 to 25 years old (60 percent); younger teens (12 to 15 percent); or young adults ages 25 to 36 (10 percent).
"Nearly 7,000 athletes from 160 countries will compete in the summer games in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area of North Carolina," said Dr. Tipton. "As a result, the screenings present an important research opportunity to collect data on musculoskeletal conditions of people with mental retardation."
In conjunction with specialty and state societies, the Academy is coordinating educational health booths for athletes, their families and coaches. This will be held in the Student Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "There, athletes will have the opportunity to discuss musculoskeletal care one-on-one with an orthopaedist and obtain patient education brochures, fact sheets and injury prevention guidelines," said Dr. Tipton.
On June 25, the day before opening ceremonies, the Academy will present a free CME course on treating foot and ankle conditions of people with mental retardation. The course, which is open to the medical community and allied health care providers, will address care, rehabilitation and psychology issues. Lowell H. Gill, MD, Charlotte, N.C., is course chairman. Attendees can be Academy fellows, primary care physicians, physical therapists and other care providers. Advance registration is required for the course.
The Academy is working closely with state and specialty societies to extend the Healthy Athletes Initiative to the grassroots level throughout the country after the summer games. "An important outgrowth of the Academy's Strategic Plan, the Healthy Athletes Initiative should increase patient access to care," said Dr. Tipton, whom, along with Donald K. Bynum Jr., MD, Chapel Hill, N.C., serve as co-chairmen of the Academy's national steering committee for this project.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics 31 years ago to showcase the capabilities of people with mental retardation. Today, more than one million athletes train and compete in Special Olympics events. Every two years, selected athletes advance to the World Games, which alternate between winter and summer sports.
The Academy is seeking volunteers for the 1999 World Summer Games to staff the Healthy Athletes Initiative educational booths and additional volunteers to conduct foot health screenings. The Academy's Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Initiative exhibit booth is in Hall A, near the registration area. After the annual meeting, to participate in the Healthy Athletes Initiative, call Dr. Tipton at (847) 823-7186.