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11 Apr 2014
IOC News

Conference on Injury and Illness Prevention in Sport buzzing with activity

The 2014 IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport is in full swing in Monaco, with 900 participants, experts and students sharing and tweeting about the latest findings and knowledge on prevention and sports medicine.

As the “majority of the world’s best researchers in the field” debate on prevention of injury and illness or the evolution of sports equipment in lectures and interactive workshops, we caught up with IOC Head of Scientific Activities, Lars Engebretsen, to discuss the relevance of this Conference and its expanding programme.

“The Conference is going very well”, states the Norwegian Professor. Most lectures and seminars are indeed filled by the 900 participants from 74 countries across all five continents, including 31 young students doing the IOC Diploma in Sports Medicine and sponsored by Olympic Solidarity, taking notes, discussing, debating and presenting.

“From what I have seen and heard, people seem very happy. The talks have been extraordinary and up-to-date, with experts telling us where the field of prevention is going.”

Throughout the three-day event, there are multiple things happening concurrently. For some, being spoilt for choice has led to a dilemma of what to do and see. “A few have ‘complained’ that they can’t go to all three things at the same time, but that’s a good sign”, comments Lars Engebretsen.

Featuring 113 speakers, five keynote lectures, 76 workshops and 202 abstracts, the Conference’s programme has considerably expanded since the last edition in 2011. “If you look at the amount of research being published in 2014, it has majorly increased in the last three years. There are more people in the field, so an indication that the field is growing”, explains the IOC Head of Scientific Activities.

Sport is gaining importance, but the profile of athletes has evolved. “In the early days, athletes were active until they were 25. Now they compete until they are 40 to 45 at a very high level. An injury to one of them is a major issue, so treatment and prevention have become all the more important.”

An emphasis on prevention

Today, there is much more emphasis on the area of injury and illness prevention from the IOC but also from National Olympic Committees (NOCs), International Federations (IFs) and national sporting bodies. With the creation of rehabilitation programmes, recovery camps and various preventative measures, the topic is central to sport and athletes’ wellbeing, making this Conference all the more crucial for the sporting world.

“If you are a physician working for an NOC, for example, you are responsible for treating patients, but the main responsibility these days is actually to come up with tools to prevent injuries and diseases, and to keep people healthy.”

 “What high-level athletes do also plays an important part for the general population”, adds Lars Engebretsen. “Those who do recreational training or sports activities look at the athletes, what they are doing, how they avoided the injuries, or what happened after they were injured, and what they did then. So it becomes all the more vital to have the right methods and message.”

Prevention in Sports goes social

For the first time, the Conference has also placed an emphasis on the role of social media in sports medicine and the field of prevention by including a number of symposia and social engagement activities.

The Co-Chair of the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre explains: “Social media is a way to spread information about prevention and promote the message; it allows for direct contact with a patient or to share one specific message for a particular injury that you want to relate to the public.”

Whether it is facilitating communication between researchers around the world, enabling experts to share their work more easily or bridging a gap between the world of experts and the general public, this Conference has made it clear that social media in sports medicine, and more specifically in communicating about injury and illness prevention, is gaining momentum. Only time will tell how social sports medicine can get, so stay tuned for the next edition of the Conference in 2017.

For more information on the Conference, visit

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