UM Partners with Brazilian Olympic Committee to Bring Telemedicine to Olympians in London
The Miller School’s William Lehman Injury Research Center is collaborating with the Brazilian Olympic Committee on an innovative telemedicine project that is providing state-of-the-art health care to Brazilian athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The pilot program, which has far-reaching implications for athletes worldwide, is assisting in monitoring health and key performance indicators of Brazilian Olympians as they compete in London – and is expected to be available to all athletes competing in the 2016 summer games hosted by Brazil.
The Brazilian medical team and Miller School telemedicine experts, led by Antonio Marttos, M.D., director of Trauma Telemedicine and assistant professor of surgery, have established medical facilities at London’s Crystal Palace, the training center for Brazil’s Olympic Team, which is serving as the hub for the pioneering project.
The project uses state-of-the-art telemedicine technology to break down virtual borders and bring the best medical care to athletes who often compete in remote places thousands of miles away from the world’s top specialists. It employs robots that Miller School trauma experts use to diagnose and care for U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq and mobile telemedicine software that powers smartphones and tablet devices.
“The goal is to provide the best medical care in any specialty,” said Marttos, “regardless of where the athlete is performing. We’re setting a new paradigm for how athletes around the globe will be treated and evaluated.”
Two motorized robots equipped with video screens are stationed at the Crystal Palace, ready to link Marttos and the rest of the Brazilian medical team with experts from the Ryder Trauma Center, the National Institute of Traumatology, the Orthopedic Rehabilitation and the Brazilian Beneficent Association for Rehabilitation and Samaritan Hospital, all in Rio de Janeiro. Using data, voice and videoconferencing features, specialists in Miami and Rio de Janeiro can remotely analyze medical situations and view video footage of the athletes in action.
Rick Valencia, vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Life, which is providing smartphones and tablets at the different sites, said the company is excited to work with the UM and the Brazilian Olympic Committee on an innovative project that underscores the benefits and possibilities of mobile health technologies for the sports industry at the world’s premier sporting event. “By leveraging the power of wireless technology, mobile health increases access to health care services to those most in need of immediate care,” Valencia said.
Using telemedicine in this way not only provides quicker response to injuries, but also connects an injured athlete with specialists in any field imaginable, including orthopedics, spinal cord injury, cardiology, ophthalmology, urology, critical care, surgery and internal medicine. Borrowing a sports metaphor, Marttos said using telemedicine in this way essentially levels the playing field. “With access to experts around the world, we can provide a very high standard of care, regardless of where an athlete competes.”
After this year’s pilot project, the Brazilian Olympic Committee, working with the University of Miami, plans to extend telemedicine services to staff, visitors and all athletes competing in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.