Abu Dhabi: Injuries can be a serious worry for athletes during important events. If not monitored closely it could hamper the performances of the athletes. So having a proper medical team for countries participating in big events becomes very necessary. So it was evident that UAE’s recent performances at the 15th Arab Games in Algeria had a strong support system including the team from M42’s Healthpoint Hospital that included physiotherapist Nadia Portelli and Dr Abdulla Mohammad Al Rahoomi, a consultant in Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine, and Rehabilitation.
While Nadia provided hands-on assistance to the athletes on-site, Dr Al Rahoomi worked behind the scenes from the UAE, ensuring the athletes performed at optimal levels. Their unwavering dedication proved to be a game-changer for the UAE team throughout the prestigious sporting event.
The event held last month saw over 6,000 athletes from various Arab countries compete in 23 sports across 245 competitions, three sports of which were for people of determination. The UAE team comprised 131 athletes, including 80 male and 51 female competitors across 15 sports. This included volleyball, athletics, boxing, judo, swimming, karate, badminton, cycling, weightlifting, table tennis, fencing, chess, wheelchair basketball, and athletics for people of determination.
Heavily involved in sports
Nadia, who has been a physiotherapist for the past 17 years, said: “Since I graduated, I have remained heavily involved in sports. When I moved to Abu Dhabi in 2014, I got further involved in sports and went into musculoskeletal rehabilitation. When Healthpoint brought me on board, I swiftly immersed myself in the sports environment. At Zayed Sports City’s stadium, we formed a formidable team of four, dedicated to sports, sports injuries, and supporting athletes and active individuals — catering to everyone, not just elite athletes.”
Dr Al Rahoomi, a prominent figure in the Sports Medicine field and Vice-President of the UAE National Olympic Medical Committee, said: “Our establishment is well known in both the country and wider region for its expertise in the sports medicine field. The plan is to actively participate in and support various sporting events by involving our seasoned therapists and physicians. Our dedication underscores our civic responsibility to the nation, striving to enhance our athletes’ performance and achieve superior outcomes in such games and when competing. As such, sending Nadia to the Arab Games was born out of this very idea.”
Nadia said: “Anything can happen. For example, during a fencing match, I had to quickly get on the court to assess and treat an athlete’s injured foot. After providing the necessary treatment and strapping him, we managed to get him back on hisfeet. As a result, the UAE team won that semi-final. Throughout the tournament, we continued to provide care to the athlete between both the semi-finals and finals, which presented both exciting and challenging moments, demanding quick thinking in assessment and treatment. Ultimately, our participation in the games played a crucial role, and the UAE team went on to secure a well-deserved silver medal.”
Nadia also recounted the time they had to run onto the track to treat a runner. “He was performing brilliantly, and suddenly his muscle gave in. After running almost 500 meters to reach him, we noticed that the paramedics, although present, lacked specific knowledge about sports injuries. We assessed the situation, provided reassurance, and managed to get the athlete back up on his feet — which is a feat in itself; aiding muscle recovery, in terms of prognosis, and also psychologically speaking for the athlete.”
She added: “Being at the Arab Games was an amazing experience. The competitors were remarkable; the dedication and the feats of athleticism were truly admirable. Additionally, Ican confidently say that we garnered both trust and respect for the healthcare system while myself and the team were there. This experience has really underlined the importance of our presence at such events, and I eagerly anticipate being proactively involved again.”
Dr Al Rahoomi said: “My role was to create connection points between the UAE’s Olympic Committee, medical facilities which included M42 Group’s Healthpoint, and the Arab Games. This was to ensure that the athletes attending the games were being taken care of in the best possible way. There is now better continuity of care wherein athletes are now being seen before, during, and after competitions, especially whenconcerning injury or rehabilitation.”
Whilst on the subject of our victories, the UAE walked away with its first-ever gold medals in the Arab Games won by both the men’s and women’s national chess teams.
Prior to this golden triumph, the UAE’s men’s cycling team also contributed to the nation’s impressive medal tally by winning a bronze in their debut appearance at the tournament.