Even though Monaco, with all its amenities, was a great venue for the conference, it’s the professional outcome that really leaves its mark.
“The 2011 IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport” gathered top experts within the field of sports medicine from all over the world. Experts exchanged the latest news and advancements in the prevention of injury and illness in sports.
In name and practice
The conference programme encompassed what you would expect, and more. In contrast to the two previous world congresses on sports injury prevention, this time athlete illness was also on the agenda.
Keeping up with changing times the IOC wishes to focus on the athlete as a whole. Other factors than an acute injury can put an athlete out of play, i.e. illness. To ensure sound, and as far as possible injury-free sporting activities, one needs to look at more than just injury in isolation.
Women onto the agenda
It was especially gratifying to see that “the female athlete triad” got its own, dedicated symposium on the opening day of the conference. The challenges associated with eating disorders, amenorrhea and osteoporosis have for too long been given too little attention.
The symposium reviewed the state of research in the field, and on how our understanding of the female athlete triad has evolved to what it is today. Nevertheless, most time was spent on how, and with which methods, to prevent these problems.
There is no doubt this area is still ridden with taboos, and there is a likelihood of a large number of unrecorded cases. Bringing these problems to light the IOC takes on its share of responsibility to create sound female sports, and to keep athletes healthy.
Injuries are not just acute
An injury is not always related to one specific incident. Many athletes are put out of play as a result of overuse injuries that, of course, develop gradually.
Some have chronic conditions that prohibit them from taking part in their activities, and there are those unlucky ones that get repeating injuries.
The chairman of IOC’s Medical Commission, professor Arne Ljungqvist, announced that the IOC would host a consensus meeting on “sports under extreme conditions” in the autumn.
Waste of resources?
One topic that’s been given great attention in recent years is sudden cardiac arrest (and death) in athletes. This topic was also put under the magnifying glass in the first keynote lecture of the conference, with focus on how to transform uncertainty into effective models for prevention.
Heart screening every athlete is a good tool to reveal which athletes have a higher risk of cardiac arrest, but is extremely expensive.
One would probably only be able to prevent a small number of cases.
Comprehensive heart screening will, according to some, “steal” capacity from an already strained public health service. On the question of comprehensive heart screening as a sensible use of resources, the jury’s still out.