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It is wise for athletes to take injuries seriously

Health & Science

By Josephat Sorir

Sports are about playing hard, competition and, yes, getting hurt. It is all part of the game.

Injuries are a common occurrence in professional sports and players and athletes cannot go through an entire career without getting hurt. For instance, marathon champion, Catherine Ndereba and 800m Olympic Champion, Wilfred Bungei missed the recent World Athletics Championship in Berlin after suffering injury during training.

If Kenya intends to maintain its good performance in athletes and to improve in others sports it must invest in sports medicine.

"Exertion of the body combined with metabolic processes and poor nutrition can lead to mild or even fatal injuries," says Dr Vladimir Chtchoukin a sports specialist .

Emotional distress

A sports injury can cause profound physical and emotional distress and even contribute to loss of a sports career. The emotional stress of an injury can result in anxiety and depression, which hinder healing and future performance. After injury most athletes suffer from a change in their mood that manifest as anger, depression, tension, and low energy levels. Normally they returns to their pre-injury mental status once they are on their way to recovery, says Vladimir.

Sports injuries can be broadly classified as traumatic or overuse. Traumatic injuries include fractures, broken-limps, arm string and knees.

The way athletes respond to the injuries both major and minor could determine their long-term health, chances of a comeback and future performance. Take the 1,500m Commonwealth Champion Augustine Choge who grappled with an injury last year. After he underwent special treatment abroad he is now in top form.

Renowned Marathon coach David Letting says some sportsmen participate in competitions with injuries for short-term gain. Controversy has arisen at times when teams made decisions that threatened a player’s long-term health for short-term gain. He says many local athletes do not take injuries seriously.

Medical facilities

Even though sports medicine is now a major specialisation in the West, Commissioner of Sports Gordon Oluoch is not concerned about lack of specialised medical sport facilities locally. He says athletes can access the treatment abroad.

An official at the training camp in Eldoret says athletes who have signed contracts with clubs enjoy direct medical portion abroad. Whenever an athlete sustains an injury, they are flown out of the country for special check-up by the club. But many athletes are disgruntled by lack of special medical treatment.

An estimated 80 per cent of international athletes are treated in foreign countries. Italy, US, Australia and Germany are some of the favoured destinations.

Dr Vladimir calls for an establishment of a special medical facility that would observe and monitor athletes throughout training.

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