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2nd International Sports Congress, Rio de Janeiro Applications around the globe

Those seeking to obtain reliable information need to be able to deal with large numbers. A total of 37 study centers participated in an international examination of the use of orthoses and supports. Sports physician Dr. Gary Abraham reported that there is extremely widespread use of such medical aids in Canada.

Canada delivered. No, not medals, as these are traditionally few for Canada in the Summer Olympic Games, when no ice hockey is played. However, Dr. Gary Abraham, Medical Director of The Sports Medicine Specialists clinic in Brampton, Ontario, was able to attract a lot of attention to himself and his country in quite another discipline – namely in achieving outstanding results in the conservative and post-operative care of injured athletes. During the congress, Dr. Abraham presented a broad range of successful treatment approaches that utilize supports and orthoses, whereby the associated information and data were taken from an international non-interventional study that was also presented at the congress in Rio. The study was initiated by Bauerfeind in response to developments that are presenting major challenges to sports medicine and sports physicians.

Study designed to support sports medicine around the world

The number of injuries suffered by athletes continues to increase every year, both in elite and recreational sports. It’s not just ankle sprains or knee lesions that are on the rise around the world; the professional treatment of these and other injuries is also set to become the topic of the future. Information on aspects such as indications, the required length of treatment , and the type of measures available is crucial for ensuring that physicians and therapists can do their jobs effectively. It’s also important to determine the impact individual factors have on overall treatment success. What benefits do the conservative and post-operative use of supports and orthoses offer injured athletes? How long does the rehabilitation phase last? These and other questions were addressed in a non-interventional study whose data is being analyzed and gradually released in 2016. A total of 37 therapy centers from nine countries took part in the study, and 1,548 patients agreed to participate as subjects. According to the study, GenuTrain knee supports alone were used around 600 times, which was the highest figure in eight of the nine countries examined. The initiators of the study are hoping that the international comparison of various treatment approaches with supports and orthoses will further the progress of sports medicine research around the world.

Knee and ankle injuries are most common

The top three supports used at the Canadian study center: GenuTrain.
The top three supports used at the Canadian study center: GenuTrain

The Sports Medicine Specialists clinic in Brampton, Canada, is one of the 38 study centers. Dr. Abraham, who is the clinic’s Medical Director, focused in his presentation on soft tissue injuries to the elbow, knee, and ankle. Abraham was able to recruit 85 patients from diverse athletic disciplines – squash, soccer, tennis, golf, and basketball players, as well as runners, boxers, gymnasts, dancers, and even yoga practitioners (!). The study also included many winter sports athletes such as skiers, speed skaters, and snowboarders. The most widely represented sport was ice hockey, however. Injuries were more or less evenly divided between acute and chronic occurrences. The frequency of indications reflected the typical patient spectrum at Abraham’s clinic, with ligament injuries to the knee being the most common injury, followed by ankle sprains, epicondylitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, and meniscus injuries.

Used most frequently: GenuTrain and MalleoTrain Plus

The top three supports used at the Canadian study center: MalleoTrain Plus.
The top three supports used at the Canadian study center: MalleoTrain Plus.

The supports utilized by Dr. Abraham and his team corresponded to the frequency of the indications – i.e. GenuTrain (55 times), MalleoTrain Plus (12 times), and EpiTrain (10 times). GenuTrain P3, MyoTrain, LumboTrain, and AchilloTrain Pro were also used. Compliance was assessed as “good” overall , and 83 of the 85 patients completed the study. Their evaluation of wearing comfort was 8.95 out of a possible ten points. On average, the patients reported that it was “easy” to put on the supports. Feedback on pain reduction and the subjective stabilization sensation was positive, with an overall grade of “good” to “very good,” as Abraham reported. “I myself learned a lot about supports and orthoses and I was surprised by their consistently positive effect ,” the sports physician said.

“Protected mobilization” of injured athletes

The top three supports used at the Canadian study center: EpiTrain.
The top three supports used at the Canadian study center: EpiTrain.

One of Abraham’s presentation charts attracted a lot of attention. The chart was labelled “Recovery/acceleration of rehabilitation” and listed three procedural methods: “Supports” was by far the most common, followed by “Physiotherapy” and “Surgery.” At the same time, Abraham stressed the importance of pursuing a multi-modal strategy in line with individual cases. Still , as he also pointed out , “If the right support is applied in the right way, it will serve as a sufficient means of enabling the athlete to return to the field quickly.” The key phrase here is “protected mobilization,” which promotes the capillary growth of vessels into an injured area and accelerates both the regeneration and parallel alignment of muscle fibers. It also stimulates collagen growth in tendons.

Cool outlook in hot Rio

Abraham addressed another important topic at the end of his presentation: compression. According to the sports physician, compression can exert gentle pressure on injured muscles and thus reduce swelling and pain, which is what the MyoTrain thigh support does. “MyoTrain stabilizes the muscles, improves circulation, and reduces muscle vibrations,” said Abraham. These attributes make MyoTrain perfect , of course, for ice hockey players with injured quadriceps caused by an opposing player’s checking.
In his concluding statement , Abraham made one thing clear: “Supports help with most soft tissue injuries. They enable patients to control their pain and return to the field quickly.” The prospects are therefore good for an ice hockey medal for Canada at the next Winter Olympics in Pyongyang in 2018. Cool outlook in hot Rio – for the further course of the study as well: Canada has delivered, and now the other countries will analyze their data and publish their results for the benefit of sports medicine around the world.

The complete Congress report is here to download

Pictures: Bauerfeind