Physios play key roles at Special Olympics World Games

CSP members will play a crucial role in this month’s Special Olympic World Games for people with learning disabilities.

180 athletes and coaches will be representing Great Britain at the Special Olympic World Games which open today in the UAE

Taking place in the United Arab Emirates from 14-21 March, it will be the largest multisport event in the world this year with 7,000 athletes from 170 countries expected.

180 athletes and coaches will be representing Great Britain with the team competing in 18 of the 24 sports.

They will be supported by two physiotherapists, Aileen Young and Alistair Beverley. The CSP is sponsoring their travel expenses with £1,500.

Special Olympics 2019 Team GB physiotherapists Alistair Beverley and Aileen Young

Other CSP members will be taking part with coaching roles. All are volunteers.

The sponsorship supports the CSP’s messaging with its Love activity, Hate exercise? campaign, which seeks to promote the role physiotherapy
has in removing the barriers some people face in being as active as they would like to be.

The campaign, which is due to relaunch in the coming weeks, is now in its second year and saw more than 2,000 members participate last year.

CSP director of strategy, policy and engagement Rob Yeldham said: ‘We are delighted to sponsor CSP members supporting Team GB at the Special Olympics. They are showing how physios and physio support workers help people overcome barriers to physical activity.

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‘We will only sponsor CSP members who are acting as volunteers. Sponsorship has to help promote physiotherapy. We usually only sponsor one team or event at a time.’

Physios play a ‘huge part’

Special Olympics GB head of delegation Laura Baxter told Frontline: ‘Our Team SOGB physios Aileen and Alistair are such important assets to
our team. Within our environment we ask a lot of our physios as they deal with prevention, rehabilitation, recovery, outreach and education.

Special Olympics 2019 Team GB head of delegation Laura Baxter

‘Our athletes are competing on the world stage and it is important that we have the relevant support structures in place to make sure that they are as prepared as possible and our physios are a huge part of the preparation and provision.

‘With a team of 180, Aileen and Alistair will be extremely busy given the standard of competition and the size of our team.

‘I would like to extend our thanks to the CSP for their support and sharing the importance of physio support within disability sport.

‘The GB team holds both of our physios in such high regard and we can’t thank them enough for their attention to detail, support and time they give voluntarily to ensure that our athletes can compete at a high level and have an experience of a lifetime.’

Introducing the CSP members volunteering at the games

In their day jobs Team GB physios Aileen Young is a specialist MSK physiotherapist at West Glasgow Ambulatory Care Hospital and Alistair Beverley is physiotherapy manager at Portland College in Mansfield, a further education facility for people with disabilities.

They have been supporting the athletes over the last two years during the lead up and preparation to the games. 

This has involved screening all the athletes and providing support to the coaching staff to ensure the athletes are in the best condition.

‘We will be completing clinics in the mornings and evenings for any physiotherapy support required for an athlete, be it assessment, exercise prescription, taping, hands-on therapy or other,’ said Mr Beverley. ‘During competition times we will be providing pitch/court/gym-side input to manage acute injuries and liaising with event medical services to ensure the highest quality of care and rehabilitation for athletes.’

L-R: Physios Karen Thomas, Magalie Mackay and Nicola Turner will be supporting competitors in the Special Olympics

Other CSP members involved with the games include Nicola Turner and Magalie Mackay who are specialist neuro physios at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children and are both involved in gymnastic coaching capacities. Cambridge-based physio Karen Thomas is a sailing coach.






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