The Winter Olympics officially began with the Opening Ceremonies in PyeongChang on Friday.
The anticipated bitter cold weather will test the mettle of the Olympians, but the 243 athletes on Team USA will have support from a crew of medical volunteers who have undergone a rigorous selection process.
According to a story in STAT News, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine Division recruits a crew of volunteer doctors, orthopedists, chiropractors, nurses, sports therapists, massage therapists and more every two years. They go on to work with Olympic hopefuls during training and practices and then at the games themselves. Some of them stick with one team; others move around as needed, but they all do it uncompensated.
Stephanie Aldret, DO, a specialist in non-surgical orthopedic sports medicine, will be heading to South Korea in a couple of weeks for the Paralympic Games where she will help prep athletes in Seoul before they head up the mountain in PyeongChang. Dr. Aldret serves as team physician for the University of Louisiana and is a member of the medical pool for USA Wrestling and USA Gymnastics-Trampoline and Tumbling.
DOs in Rio
At the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, three DOs were first-time Olympic physicians: Naresh Rao, DO, who was the medical liaison for water polo to the U.S. Olympic Committee; Rebeccah Rodriguez, DO, who ran one of Team USA’s three high-performance Olympic training centers; and Jeffrey P. Anthony, DO, who was a team physician for U.S. athletes at the Paralympic Games. Joining them was James M. Lally, DO, who oversaw the health and well-being of nearly 400 athletes participating in Olympic shooting sports in his role as chief medical officer for the International Shooting Sports Foundation.
“It’s always been one of my career goals and dreams to be part of Team USA,” Dr. Rodriguez told The DO in 2016. “I’m so honored and excited that the years of hard work toward education and training have paid off.”
For more on the process of getting to the Olympic games as a medical volunteer, read the STAT news story here.