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‘Time is very crucial for a sports player’

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Dr Neeraj Adkar, Medical Director, Saishree Hospital and President Pune Orthopaedic Society, explains the scope for sports medicine in India in conversation with Raelene Kambli

Can you take us through your journey as a surgeon and share your experience as president of Pune Orthopaedic Society?

After finishing my degree from King Edward Memorial Hospital, Pune (KEM), I went to pursue my fellowship of arthroplasty (joint replacement) under Dr Vikram Shah, Shalby Hospital, Ahmedabad, further, I went to Spain and Australia to do fellowships in arthroscopy and computer-guided joint replacement surgery respectively, to take national and international practical knowledge of my specialities.

I was associated as an orthopaedic surgeon with various hospitals. To name a few like Poona Hospital, Sahyadri Hospital & Ruby Hall Clinic. Currently, I am the managing director of SaiShree Hospital, Pune where we do a maximum of orthopaedic cases which includes and not limiting to joint replacement surgery, arthroscopy surgeries, trauma (road accidents) and minimally invasive spine surgery.

Talking about my experience as a president of Pune Orthopaedic Society, Pune is considered as a hub for orthopaedic surgeries across the globe. Pune Orthopaedic Society was commenced in the 1970’s and since then it is an organisation which is very active and academic-oriented society. It has been involved in arranging academic activities by surgeons who are attended by not only national but also by international delegates.

During my tenure as a president of Pune Orthopaedic Society, I initiated different fellowship programmes to train the fresh certified orthopaedic surgeons from various institutes to get trained under the guidance of other senior orthopaedic surgeons, to enable them to attain practical guidance under the seniors. Good response was received for the same and was appreciated by many group members.

What is the scope of sports medicine in India?

The popularity of sports is growing exponentially since the past decade. With the growing popularity of cricket, tennis, hockey, badminton and kabaddi leagues in India, all players are now striving hard to be a part of their favourite sports leagues. As a result, there is an increased physical as well as a mental burden on the players. Players train for longer hours with higher intensity by most of the time putting themselves under high physical and mental pressure, making them prone to injury. Thus, with the growing zeal in sports amongst Indians, the scope for sports medicine, which consists of sports surgeon, sports physiotherapist, sports nutritionist and sports psychologist has grown.

Do you think that sports medicine is an important field to explore and why?

Certainly yes, with the prevalence of interests of sports in the youth, sports medicine is an equally vital domain to be explored. The involvement of a sports medicine practitioner can help one prevent injury. A sports physiotherapist can guide the player gain more stability, flexibility and help in the development of core and strength, proper diet could be given by sports nutritionist, as-well appropriate counselling by a sports psychologist could enable the players to perform better. Sports medicine is not just limited to injury rehab where a surgeon operates the player, but it has more relevance for injury prevention awareness amongst the coaches, players and their respective parents.

How matured is the sports medicine industry in India and where does it stand in comparison to the rest?

Sports medicine in India is a recently developed branch under medicine. There are very few dedicated centres in India which provide end-to-end sports personnel care services. With the growing popularity of sports in India, today we don’t only need good infrastructure for sports medicine centre, but also good/expert professionals to take a player to the highest of its potential. Thus, with the growing interest of sports among the youth and their parents, and their understanding towards taking expert guidance, I believe soon this industry of sports medicine would be at power with any other medical branch in India.

What contributions can sports medicine bring to medical tourism in India?

With internationally recognised players and athletes like Abhinav Bindra, Sania Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Hima Das — the golden girl, India is getting a base in other sports as well, apart from cricket and hockey. Thus with such amazing brand ambassadors representing us in the world, medical tourism for sports injury could also attain popularity. Since it’s a team effort of the player and its medical/physical experts which helps them attain medals and popularity in their respective field by performing in their the sport.

With the Olympics coming up soon, can this event bring the necessary impetus to the field of sports medicine?

Olympics is a performance showcasing event for a sports personnel and its whole backend support team (medical and physical advisors). For any player being a part of Olympics and performing in the same, itself acts as a catalyst and a motivating factor to perform better day by day. When we see a player/athlete perform, it’s not just the player performing, it’s the unanimous efforts of the whole sports medicine team, who has trained and motivated him/her to reach to that stage of the final performance. In fact, Prime minister Narendra Modi has initiated a lot of activities on sports medicine front for the Indian players/athletes for Olympics participation.

Tell us about your experiences in the field of orthopaedics and sports medicine?

I feel orthopaedics is one of the most happening surgical branch. In fact every year there is some technology or implant upgrade that comes up. In return, it acts as a boon for the patients by giving them either long-lasting implants or a new technology for surgery which helps is early mobility and recovery.

We can even say something like #NewGen Technology, where we have everything minimally invasive procedure for ligament reconstruction to spine surgeries. Talking about the implants used in the surgical procedures, their durability and flexibility are quite lasting in comparison to the primitive implants which were used. Time is very crucial for a sports player, with the developing technology to operate. In case of any injury, a player can have a quicker recovery and return to the practise and match performance phase again. Since surgeries being minimally invasive in nature, there is less blood loss during the surgery, less tissue damage during surgery resulting in quicker healing and recovery. Recently, I operated upon a national level karate player with a major ligament reconstruction surgery and she was able to get back to performance in less than 45 days.

With the industry being dogged by controversies about implants causing long-term side effects etc., what can healthcare providers do to ensure that inferior quality implants are out from the market?

Sadly in India, we still do not have standardisation and set protocols in using and selling implants. Unfortunately, some of the surgeons rely on the US FDA implant certification to use a different set of implants. Standardisation, setting up proper guidelines and regulations from the government can surely make a difference. There should be proper research and some regulatory process set before commercial use of implants is done in hospitals by the surgeons. Thus the government can take different initiatives in the same and allow guidelines to enable uniformity in implants and eliminate the usage of inferior quality usage of implants in the market.

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