Foot specialists in Abu Dhabi are volunteering their time and expertise to support the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 with free check-ups for athletes of determination taking part in the nation’s largest sports and humanitarian event.
The health professionals are taking part in Special Olympics Fit Feet – a podiatric screening initiative taking place alongside the event, which will run in Abu Dhabi from 14 to 21 March under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces. The Fit Feet event is led by two volunteer clinical directors from Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), Dr Alero Adjene, Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist and Dr. Sami Tabib, Consultant Podiatrist.
“This is a vital opportunity to reach out to people of determination, many of whom lack access to healthcare that is tailored to their needs,” said Dr Safdar Naqvi, Medical Director and Consultant Physician & Endocrinologist at ICLDC.
“Past Fit Feet events have seen Special Olympics athletes diagnosed with treatable or preventable foot conditions and treatment enables the athletes to improve their performance in the Games and also improves their quality of life.”
The Special Olympics World Games is a global movement that focuses on empowering ‘people of determination’ through sport. More than 7,500 athletes from over 190 nations will compete in this year’s event.
Fit Feet is one of the disciplines of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program, the world’s largest public health screening program for people of determination. Devised in partnership with the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, it gives competitors, coaches and caregivers a better understanding of foot problems.
Podiatrists examine the ankles, feet and lower-extremity biomechanics of athletes, many of whom are subsequently diagnosed with untreated foot conditions. If necessary, those assessed will be referred for treatment or more detailed investigation at one of Mubadala’s medical facilities in the emirate.
Half of all athletes of determination assessed by Fit Feet specialists globally have been found to have gait abnormalities; 53% have skin and nail problems; and one in five has a bone deformity, according to Special Olympics figures. Additionally, Fit Feet reported that 51% of Special Olympics athletes it saw in the United States were found to be wearing the wrong size of shoe. Ensuring participants are equipped with appropriate footwear for their particular sports is another vital aspect of the initiative.
Dr Adjene and Dr Tabib from ICLDC have been involved with the World Games for the past 18 months, participating in training sessions and screening athletes during Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018. They are working alongside other healthcare professionals from the Centre’s parent company, Mubadala, including specialty hospitals Healthpoint and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program is designed to improve each athlete’s ability to train and compete in Special Olympics, as well as in life, by providing free health screening, services and education in conjunction with competition events. Since its launch in 1997, more than 155,000 healthcare professionals and students have been trained to treat participants, who otherwise might not get the treatment and care they need, more effectively and with greater sensitivity towards their specific needs and to educate them about healthy lifestyle choices.