The latest issue of UEFA's medical publication UEFA•medicine matters focuses on the invaluable work carried out by European football's governing body, national associations and clubs in the crucial area of sports medicine – with UEFA continuing to develop the activities of its Medical Committee and specialist medical unit.
In his editorial column for edition No21 of the publication, the chairman of UEFA's Medical Committee, Dr Michel D'Hooghe, emphasises the considerable strides made since the medical unit was set up in 2011.
"Key projects," Dr D'Hooghe says, "have included firstly the implementation of minimum medical standards in all UEFA competitions from [2012/13], which has ensured the provision of medical rooms, ambulances, emergency doctors and lifesaving equipment, as well as requiring that all visiting team doctors be briefed in advance on other stadiums' medical facilities or on tournament medical plans. This has been extremely well supported by clubs and national associations in its first season of implementation, something for which all involved should be applauded.
"Secondly, the first stage of UEFA's three-part football doctor education programme was completed in 2012, since when participants have been using their new-found skills at matches and passing them on to other doctors in their own countries.
"Finally, UEFA's injury study continues to produce groundbreaking research in the field of football medicine, helping Europe's elite clubs better understand the causes, mechanisms and prevention of injury and ensuring they have their best players fit, healthy and out on the pitch as often as possible."
Dr D'Hooghe stresses that UEFA is working from a strong base in its medical undertakings. The latest issue showcases the Medical Committee's knowledge and expertise in areas such as jet lag, groin injury and myalgia, and relates the progress of the UEFA Football Doctor Education Programme, which was launched in 2012 to enable national associations to exchange crucial sports medical know-how for the common well-being of European football.
"The positive way in which Europe's national associations have taken to the cascading of the course's content is real testimony to the commitment within the game to making the best possible medical services available to teams and players," he reflects.
"The combination of a solid pre-tournament [medical] screening process, minimum standards for the provision of equipment and services at matches and a network of educators trained to disseminate knowledge regarding emergency medical techniques within each individual country means that football medicine in Europe has never been stronger. As chairman of the UEFA Medical Committee, nothing pleases me more than seeing our teams and players given the best possible chance of competing in a safe and healthy environment."
Preparations are also under way for the sixth UEFA Medical Symposium, scheduled for Madrid in February 2014 – "an event that promises to be UEFA's best medical symposium to date," says Dr D'Hooghe. "UEFA's flagship conference represents an invaluable opportunity to showcase the excellent knowledge and skills that exist within Europe's football community and the sport's commitment to high-quality medical services."
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