For the 2012 games, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) will use electronic medical records (EMR) instead of paper records for athlete care.
On 9NEWS 5 a.m. we spoke with Dr. Bill Moreau, USOC Sports Medicine Managing Director. He described how this EMR technology will replace palettes of paper records that are historically shipped by the USOC to the Games, providing doctors with faster access to athletes' medical records - ultimately reducing errors and saving time when diagnosing an athlete's potential injury.
Moreau said the sports medicine programs of the U.S. Olympic Committee and its technology partner, General Electric Healthcare, are helping more athletes to excel. Examples of how this partnership is paying off include the 2010 Winter Olympics.
During that time, a headline making story involved the recovery made by speed skater J.R. Celski following a severe cut to his leg caused when his own skate cut to his femur following a fall at the USA Speedskating trials five months before Games were to begin.
An important part of Celski's physical rehabilitation was the usefulness of sophisticated medical diagnostic equipment that sports medicine professionals use to view the details of sports injuries. This technology allows them to exchange information with the world's leading experts to develop the most promising treatments. The same sophisticated technology is improving the capabilities of sports medicine professionals to learn more about the physical traits of successful athletes and help them make important decisions regarding the sporting events they select to compete in.
"There is more we don't know than what we do know," according to Dr. Moreau. Many medical diagnostic technologies have been invented to assist infirm patients to recover from an illness, rather than to understand how elite athletes achieve peak performance. But better knowledge about the sources of top athlete strength and endurance can also play a valuable role in helping others to achieve their own health goals.
Several success stories have emerged so far. Electrocardiogram technology, historically used to measure heart rhythm and heart rate, can now be applied in pre-competition health assessments to benchmark the cardiac metrics of top athletes compared to their peers. A long term goal is to share research with global experts to chart a view of top performing athlete's hearts.
Muscular skeletal ultra-sound equipment is now proving the global sports medicine community with a better understanding of athletes' muscle and ligament traits. Initial findings are already being applied to reduce repetitive motion injuries and understand the most favorable approaches to healing. An additional long-term benefit sought is to collect more useful information about athlete's health and fitness with technologies which do not rely on X-ray exposure.
Innovation and leadership in promoting athlete health and fitness has earned the USOC Sports Medicine program global renown. As Dr. Moreau observes, "the U.S. public likes to see people compete on their best day. We like to win, but not at the expense of someone else's health. In sports medicine, we help people around the world."
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)