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Introduction

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We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.

Gloria Gaither

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Traveling with a team presents the sports medicine clinician with a considerable challenge.1 Providing quality medical support for a traveling team requires far more than good professional skills. Successful practitioners develop multiple treatment skills, strong interpersonal skills, and effective personal coping mechanisms.

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The traveling sports clinician often has to fill a number of roles. These may include physician, physiotherapist, massage therapist, podiatrist, trainer, fitness adviser, dietitian, psychologist, assistant team manager, assistant coach, statistician, travel coordinator, and baggage supervisor. Traveling with a team often involves working long hours in less than ideal conditions with sportspeople and coaches who are under great stress due to the demands of competition and travel.2

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Preparation

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Adequate planning is fundamental for a successful trip. Preparation includes researching the destination, providing advice for team members, and obtaining supplies. It also requires thorough self-preparation.

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Things to do before travel

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  • Be well-versed about the travel destination. Climate, altitude, level of pollution, accommodation, food, water, vaccination requirements, security, and the level of medical support at the destination must all be anticipated.35 If the competition is at altitude or in the heat, acclimatization will be necessary (Chapter 58). This may entail arriving well before the competition begins.

  • Obtain details about the team’s accommodation. In hot climates, air-conditioning may be an advantage for comfort although it may delay heat acclimatization. Sleeping arrangements must be adequate. Particularly tall sportspeople require extra-long beds. Try to guarantee a dedicated medical room when traveling with a large team. If this is not possible, the clinician should have a hotel room to himself or herself which doubles as a treatment room and permits players to be treated with privacy and confidentiality as needed.

  • Research the type of food available at the venue. If there is not sufficient high-carbohydrate food available or if the food is likely to be unfamiliar and unappetizing, have appropriate meals prepared. It may be necessary to bring food and drink from home.

  • Discover whether the water supply is of good quality and if there is a risk of gastrointestinal infections, especially “traveler’s diarrhea.” This will affect planning and determination of whether precautionary measures are needed.

  • Vaccination requirements vary considerably between countries. Cholera and typhoid vaccinations are required in certain countries, particularly in Asia, South America, and Africa.6, 7 Travel to tropical areas may require malaria prophylaxis. Immunizations for the sportsperson are listed in Table 64.1. The vaccination and malaria prophylaxis requirements are constantly changing and up-to-date information should be obtained from local or national travel advisory services and from databases such as the websites of the World Health Organization and the Centers ...

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