With 80 days to go until the London Olympics, sports teams and athletes are gearing up in preparation and anticipation. Many teams will travel considerable distances for their chance to compete at the games and will push their bodies and minds to their limits.
Being part of the sports medicine team travelling with Olympic athletes is a highlight in the career of many healthcare professionals. Travelling and working with elite athletes involves unique challenges. Clinicians are required to work in different environments with different equipment and often work within an extended scope of practice. Overall the aim of the sports medicine team is to provide consistent and quality medical care to athletes within this constantly changing environment.
The new edition of the Clinical Sports Medicine text book is an ideal resource for the travelling clinician. Chapter 64, titled ‘Travelling with a team,’ includes valuable information for the preparation stage, including a section about the contents of the medical bag. A light weight version of the medical bag, commonly known as a hip bag is also discussed. The chapter discusses issues prior to travel and methods for assessing team member’s fitness prior to departure. Although there is a separate chapter for drugs and athletes, chapter 64 discusses the role of drug testing and displays a table of contact details for obtaining drug related information from a variety of countries.
Air travel and jet lag often generate many concerns for travelling athletes. Chapter 64 goes through the pathophysiology of circadian rhythms of sleep and alertness, core body temperature, and important hormonal secretions including melatonin and cortisol. Strategies which may help minimise and even prevent jet lag are discussed such as light exposure and melatonin intake. The information tables and discussions within this chapter will be invaluable to both novice and experienced clinicians travelling with sports teams.