June 3rd, 2016
This summer’s Copa America Centenario is almost here. It is being held outside of South America for the first time ever to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Starting June 9, three group stage matches will be played here in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field. These matches include third ranked Chile, ninth ranked Uruguay, and 29th ranked USA. Preparations have been underway to successfully host an event of this magnitude and this includes sports medicine coverage for each venue. Dr Arthur Bartolozzi and I were asked to lead the medical coverage for the Philadelphia matches. This includes not only match day coverage but also facilitating any medical care needed while teams are in town.
For the past few months we have been putting together our local medical team. Game day medical staffing includes stretcher crews staffed with physicians, athletic trainers, and physical therapists. After attending the Copa America Centenario 2016 Medical and Anti-Doping Committee in Miami last month, we have also been tasked with coordinating anti-doping testing at the conclusion of each match. FIFA is stepping up anti-doping efforts and these will be implemented during this summer’s matches. Game day heat index assessments are another task for the medical staff. If the index is higher than the prescribed threshold based on ambient temperature, humidity, and wind speed, water breaks will be implemented during the matches. Other game day requirements include in-stadium x-rays, EMS coverage, and emergency management planning.
While teams are in Philadelphia training prior to and following their matches, medical coverage must also be coordinated for any issue that may arise. This includes trauma care for injuries such as fractures, but also minor issues such as dental care, general medical issues, and imaging such as MRIs. Since the physicians for the visiting teams don’t have privileges here, we need to facilitate all medical care. Any medical issue needs to be addressed in a timely manner so that players can be ready for training and matches. As you can see, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to keep players healthy on the pitch. We’re looking forward to exciting matches in June and hope that our assistance isn’t needed.