February 1999 Bulletin

Academy to join 1999 Special Olympics

Sponsors educational Health Tent, foot and ankle CME course

By Joanne L. Swanson

To raise people's awareness of the musculoskeletal health care needs of America's 7.5 million mentally-retarded citizens, the Academy will participate in the Special Olympics 1999 World Summer Games, June 26 to July 4, in North Carolina.

Announcing the Academy's Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Initiative, William W. Tipton Jr., MD, Academy executive vice president, said "Orthopaedic surgeons will conduct foot health screenings of the Special Olympics athletes at the games. Specialty societies and state societies will be involved in the educational initiative, too.

"The Academy will hold a CME course for the medical community and have an educational Health Tent for athletes, their families and coaches in conjunction with the games."

Special Olympic athletes are mentally-retarded youth and adults, many of whom also have physical disabilities. "With nearly 7,000 athletes from 150 countries competing at this year's summer games," said Dr. Tipton, "the foot screenings present an important research opportunity to collect data on musculoskeletal conditions of this specific population.

"The foot and ankle CME course addresses rehabilitation and psychology issues in treating the mentally-retarded patient." Course attendees can be Academy fellows, primary care physicians, physical therapists and other care providers of people with mental retardation.

At the Academy's Health Tent, staffed by orthopaedic surgeons, athletes will have the opportunity to discuss musculoskeletal care one-on-one with an orthopaedist. They can also obtain patient education brochures, fact sheets and injury prevention guidelines.

Golf, basketball, tennis, soccer, roller skating, powerlifting, gymnastics, bowling, sailing, cycling and volleyball are among the 19 Special Olympics summer sports. This year, events will take place in venues throughout the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Many competitions will be held on university campuses, including the University of North Carolina, Duke University, North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University.

According to Dr. Tipton, the Academy's Special Olympics effort continues implementation of the Academy's Position Statement on Support of Sports and Recreational Programs for Physically Disabled People. "As orthopaedists, we must provide leadership in the treatment of this population's special health care needs," he said. "Focus of the effort will be improving the health of participants not only at the games but also for the rest of their lives."

Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics 31 years ago to showcase the capabilities of mentally-retarded people. Today, the Washington, D.C.-based Special Olympics International is the world's largest sports organization for this population. Each year, 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.

Other medical associations developing Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Initiative programs in their respective specialties are the American Academy of Dermatology, American Dental Association, American Physical Therapy Association and American Optometric Association.

The Academy created a national steering committee to guide the planning and implementation of its Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Initiative program. The members are Donald K. Bynum Jr., MD, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Lowell H. Gill, MD, Charlotte, N.C.; William A. Grana, MD, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Peter Jokl, MD, New Haven, Conn.; L. Andrew Koman, MD, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Stephen Paul Montgomery, MD, Raleigh, N.C.; David A. Rockwell, MD, Goldsboro, N.C.; Kevin P. Speer, MD, Durham, N.C.; Timothy Taft, MD, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Allen Wicken, MS, PT, Alexandria, Va.; and Dr. Tipton.

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