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Providing medical care for Austria’s top skiers For a world-class performance on ice and snow

Issue 03/2020

Torn cruciate ligaments are becoming increasingly common in amateur skiers as well as professionals, such as the ski jumpers and Nordic combined specialists of the Austrian Skiing Association (ÖSV). To enable the athletes to get back in top shape again, ÖSV team physician Dr. med. Jürgen Barthofer relies on Bauerfeind orthoses and supports for treatment.

Dr. med. Jürgen Barthofer ist seit 2008 offizieller ÖSV-Mannschaftsarzt. Der Sport- und Allgemeinmediziner sowie Unfallchirurg hat sich auf Kreuzbandverletzungen spezialisiert und leitet eine eigene Praxis in Linz.
Dr. med. Jürgen Barthofer has been the official ÖSV team physician since 2008. The Physician for Sports and General Medicine and Trauma Surgeon has specialized in cruciate ligament injuries and runs a practice in Linz, Austria.

Many skiers are already looking forward to the next winter sports season. For years, however, injuries caused during winter sports have continued to increase. On the one hand, this is down to the higher number of skiers on the slopes, combined with overconfidence and inadequate physical preparation. On the other hand, technical equipment is also responsible. “Carving skis, for example, allow ever increasing speeds with reduced radii. This results in particularly high torque which, in turn, leads to more torn cruciate ligaments and tibial plateau fractures,” explains Dr. Jürgen Barthofer, Physician for General Medicine, Sports Medicine and Sports Traumatology and Specialist in Trauma Surgery. In his practice in Linz, Austria, the cruciate ligament specialist treats about 70 patients per week during the winter season. This includes both hobby skiers and many professionals, in particular the top athletes from the Austrian Skiing Association (ÖSV). Dr. Barthofer has been the official ÖSV team physician for the Austrian ski jumpers and Nordic combination specialists since 2008. For this group of athletes, injuries to the cruciate ligament have also gone up significantly, based on flatter and faster flight trajectories and the associated increase in pressure during landing. Add to that modified ski binding, which allows increased uplift in the air but also makes the jumper more prone to cruciate ligament tears when landing.

Step-by-step treatment

“Professionals and amateurs don’t differ in the type and severity of their skiing injuries,” the sports physician reports. “The former, however, deal with it more professionally and immediately concentrate on returning to maximum performance as quickly as possible.” During the recovery process, athletes benefit from their sporty basic constitution and their capacity for extensive training, of course. The intensity level of their treatment is therefore particularly high. An example for this is Mario Seidl from the ÖSV’s Nordic combination national squad: in September 2019, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and was then operated on by Dr. Barthofer. The surgery was successful and now he is about to make his come-back.
“Orthoses and supports play an important role in treatment,” the team physician emphasizes. He made his first positive experiences with medical aids by Bauerfeind at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. “The SecuTec Genu knee orthosis is particularly suitable for primary treatment, for example, in the early stages of collateral ligament injuries or during follow-up care for meniscus injuries. It can immensely support and stabilize the patient, and it offers compliance benefits compared to a plaster cast, for example.” In the subsequent treatment phase, Dr. Barthofer then prescribes Bauerfeind compression supports, for example, such as the GenuTrain or GenuTrain P3, to stabilize kneecap problems: “Knee supports stimulate proprioception and muscle activity, which leads to positive pre-tensioning in the joint and centers the knee. This provides users with a sense of stability and confidence when they’re skiing again.”
When treating ankle injuries, the stabilizing MalleoLoc orthosis is usually used first, which is positioned asymmetrically in front of and behind the malleoli. The MalleoTrain support is also a tried-and-tested aid for the final stage of treating supination trauma in the ankle: it exerts tension on the joint, but also allows the movement and dynamics that are important for recovery. “In addition to their effectiveness, Bauerfeind products also impress users with their high level of wearing comfort,” Dr. Barthofer explains. “MalleoLoc, for example, improves stability but doesn’t press on the ankle during walking.”

“Professionals and amateurs don’t differ in the type and severity of their skiing injuries.”

Dr. med. Jürgen Barthofer

Longstanding partnership
including support during the Olympics

ÖSV-Teammitglieder bei den Olympischen Winterspielen in Sotschi.
ÖSV team members at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Bauerfeind Austria has been a partner of the Austrian Skiing Association (ÖSV) since 2010, helping athletes with supports, orthoses, compression stockings and orthopedic foot orthoses when required. This means that Dr. Barthofer can provide targeted treatment in different stages. At the 2018 Olympic Games in the South Korean county of PyeongChang, he also
had Bauerfeind’s medical aids to support him. As the Chief Medical Officer he was responsible for the health of the entire Austrian delegation, and Bauerfeind was part of the medical care team in the
Olympic Village. “The extremely demanding race courses, for example, were a particular challenge, resulting in a lot of skiers getting injured,” the physician reports.
For example, we had vertebral fractures as well as many torn cruciate ligaments. “Bauerfeind, however, provided excellent care with its products and treatment service, allowing us to successfully supply each of our athletes with the appropriate medical aid.”

A season with an increased risk of injury

Even if the top events like the 2022 Winter Olympics are a long way off – work doesn’t slow down for the sports physician, now that the new winter sports season is starting. “I’m concerned about a significant increase in the risk of injuries for amateur athletes in particular due to the COVID-19 situation, because many people haven’t had enough opportunity to train, but may be overly confident and eager to get back to skiing,” Dr. Barthofer explains. This probably means that, during the main season, weekly working hours will expand to the usual 80 hours again for the 45-year-old family man. Let us just hope he finds some time to go skiing himself – without getting injured, of course.†

 

Furhter information:

The Austrian Skiing Association (ÖSV) is one of the most successful winter sports associations anywhere in the world. The squads are represented by elite athletes in the different disciplines, such as Alpine skiing, Nordic combination, biathlon, freestyle, snowboarding and parasports.

Images: Mesic, picture alliance/Rolf Kosecki, privat


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