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Room One Physiotherapist at the Commonwealth Games

One of our physiotherapists, Paul Butler, has just returned from the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. We asked him to give us a run down on his experience from the Games now that he has had time to reflect.

Why did you decide to volunteer?
I decided to take part in the Games after speaking to a few colleagues about their experiences following the London 2012 Olympics.  It sounded right up my street given my current interest in sport and treatment of sports injuries.  I felt it was a great opportunity to treat a wide variety of elite athletes and gain experience treating athletes in sports that I would not necessarily come across.

How did you feel about being selected?
For me, on reflection, I was very proud and excited to be selected following an application and interview process.  I was excited to get the chance to work alongside highly experienced colleagues and world class athletes and that feeling didn’t disappoint come Games time.

Where where you based?
I was based in the Polyclinic in the Athlete’s Village.  This was basically a mini hospital set up to deal with any medical eventuality.  For obvious reasons, the access to the site was restricted to the Village workforce, athletes and family members.  It was a super opportunity for me to be part of a great team of medical personnel, learning new skills and it enabled me to see how some athletes prepare pre and post competition.  Any athletes sustaining injuries at the competition venues ended up with ourselves for assessment and treatment.

What did your average day entail?
Working in the Polyclinic in the Athlete’s Village was full on – split either into an early or late shift.  The Clinic ran an appointment system, but also operated a drop-in service, with a team of 6-7 physios on at any one time.  Physiotherapy took mainly a lead role in assessment and management of injuries.  The athlete had input from a multidisciplinary team without delay – sports medicine physicians, podiatrists, radiologists to name but a few.  I do not know of any other environment where this would be the case.  From a clinical point of view, assessment, diagnosis and referral for any imaging investigation and treatment was seamless.  With highly skilled practitioners in the sporting field, the athletes were well looked after.  I also got a chance to see some competition during my down time.  I managed to catch some swimming action and saw some of the Northern Ireland athletes compete.  The atmosphere in the venues was electric!

What was the best part of the Games?
The best part for me was meeting and working with great colleagues, who became friends.  I have no doubt I will stay in touch with them. Treating athletes who were so grateful for your input was humbling for me.

What was the hardest part of the Games?
The hardest part for me was treating and dealing with athletes who had spent 4 years of hard training to be told their injury would keep them out of the competition.  This is never easy but, thankfully, working already in sport I was used to dealing with these situations. However, they are still never nice.