The first UEFA Football Doctor Education Programme workshop is taking place this week in Vienna.
The workshop has provided an opportunity for doctors working in European football to learn advanced emergency aid techniques and share best practice in the role of the football doctor. The course, running from 20 to 24 February, has been presented by members of the UEFA Medical Committee and by specialists in emergency medicine.
"Very quickly we came from classical medicine, taking care of the health of our patients, to a more specific sports medicine, taking care not only of health but also of physical condition," said Michel D'Hooghe, chairman of the UEFA Medical Committee, in his opening statement about the changes which have taken place in the game's medical area.
"We have close attachments with locomotory disciplines, like traumatology, orthopaedics, physiotherapy and also with physiology, psychology and the pharmaceutical sector of medicine. Added to this are nutritional elements and elements of hygiene, and thanks to the global evolution of football we are approaching new sectors – adaption to jet lag, adaption to sport in altitudes, adaptation to sport in extreme weather conditions," he added.
The success of the programme is dependent on the further dissemination of content by candidates, through the hosting of similar workshops at national level, because the 53 doctors present cannot make the difference alone. "Usually, when you stage a workshop like this, people go home afterwards and it is finished," said UEFA education adviser André Boder. "The idea is to help the medical representatives of the national associations to cascade all the knowledge shared to the medical staff and club doctors of their own country.
"To spread the knowledge as quickly as possible, UEFA provides three educational tools – technical handbooks, 40 to 50 trained course delegates, who are there to advise the associations at any time, and an extensive online platform with countless articles for interactive elearning. The doctors are required to spread the knowledge gained within their country as effectively as possible."
Participants at the seminar have had to complete two modules: "Role and responsibility of a team doctor" and "Emergency treatment". For the latter, the doctors present had to complete practical exercises on different stations, such as injuries of the cervical spine, cardiac arrest and blockage of the respiratory passages.
"We're doing the simple things here. We're not teaching advanced surgical techniques. It's just about the first critical moments," explained Jonathan Gordon of SportPromote. "When the heart stops beating, the doctor will normally panic as well. It is an understandable reaction, since most of the doctors here don't work at a hospital in their day jobs."
Regarding the roles and responsibility of the team doctor, Ian Beasley, a member of the UEFA Medical Committee, came to the conclusion that given the changed circumstances, football doctors have increasingly become "medicine managers". "I started in football in 1987 – it's so different now," he said. "Prevention and surveillance is a big thing. The project is the player. Doctors should be a communication filter between players/managers and medical analysis, data, physios, etc.."
All topics and techniques discussed and tested were enthusiastically welcomed by the delegates. It is now the responsibility of the doctors to make sure the knowledge gained will not remain exclusive. "I want all of you to become teachers. That is my personal request to you. I hope you will have big success with this," Dr D'Hooghe concluded.