In the picture: Healthy Athletes Program

In the picture: Healthy Athletes Program

Nick Van Waes
To be an athlete means to be in top physical condition. That is why Special Olympics provides the Healthy Athletes Program during national and international Games, just like the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games.

Sometimes, our athletes don’t notice their physical defects, because of their intellectual disability. That is why every participant at SO2014, can test their physical health at the games, without any medical fees! We have a full team of medical staff, from various specializations, during the games who can give their professional insights. The results will give the athletes an indication about their physical condition.

 “The Healthy Athletes Program has a direct impact on the wellbeing of our athletes, thanks to the free availability of adjusted glasses or a hearing aid. It also increases the involvement of the coaches, as well as educating the athletes and teaching them the right techniques.” says Caroline Teugels, coordinator of the HAP program for SO2014.

The program will focus on 7 domains:

  • Fit Feet (podiatry)
  • Fun Fitness (physical therapy)
  • Health Promotion (better health and well-being)
  • Healthy Hearing (audiology)
  • Opening Eyes (vision)
  • Special Smiles (dentistry)
  • Healthy Body (osteopathy): unique in Belgium

The Healthy Body component is a component that is unique to Belgium and will be available for the first time during the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games. Osteopathy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine which primarily consists of moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints

In a nutshell, the goals of the Healthy Athletes program are:

  • Lowering the barrier to go to a doctor while at the same time improving medical research for people with an intellectual disability.
  • If needed, referring the athletes to specialized doctors in their own place of habit.
  • Giving medical staff and students a better view on the physical fitness and needs of athletes with an intellectual disability.
  • Gathering and analysing data to hand over to various authorities.

 

The athletes themselves are already on board “During a screening of my feet, the medical staff noticed that one of my legs was shorter than the other. The doctor told me I should wear arch supports. Now, it doesn’t hurt when I run anymore and it greatly improved my performance”, says enthusiastic runner.

 

 

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