Olympic volunteers Luciana De Michelis Mendonça, Felipe Ferreira Tadiello, Leonardo Trocoli de Medeiros, Márcio Antonelo, Marco Antônio Alves and Christiane Guerino Macedo
Olympic volunteers Luciana De Michelis Mendonça, Felipe Ferreira Tadiello, Leonardo Trocoli de Medeiros, Márcio Antonelo, Marco Antônio Alves and Christiane Guerino Macedo

Volunteer training helps Brazilian physical therapists prepare for Rio Olympics

Physical therapists in Brazil have been preparing to volunteer at the Olympic and Paralympic Games with a series of free training courses organised by the National Society of Sports Physiotherapy (SONAFE).

For the past two years physical therapists have been refining their skills in areas such as sports taping and electrothermal modalities. The training and attention on physical therapy has been welcomed by the Physiotherapists' Association of Brazil (AFB), who have been working in partnership with SONAFE since 2014.

“The Olympic Games will increase the visibility of Brazilian physical therapy, leading to increased attention on research, publications and exchange,” says AFB president Denise Flávio de Carvalho Botelho Lima. “International recognition of physical therapy in Brazil is the great legacy.”

Training has been available across Brazil through a series of travelling workshops and skill-sharing opportunities. Now 127 volunteers will support athletes from across the world in Rio this month.

SONAFE president Luciana De Michelis Mendonça says the training has expanded the concept of volunteering in Brazil. An increased number of specialised physical therapists “are the first step in Rio's Olympic legacy for sports physiotherapy in Brazil.”

Volunteers at the Olympic Village Polyclinic have also benefitted from training provided by the Rio 2016 Organising Committee. Courses have included online English lessons and advanced trauma and life support.

“The standardization of knowledge is essential,” says Felipe Tadiello, founding partner of SONAFE and consultant for the Rio Organising Committee. “This is another important phase for physical therapists – even for those who already have great knowledge about emergency care in sports.”

The AFB highlights that the courses signal the growing number of specialised physical therapists in Brazil, and hope that SONAFE will eventually join the International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy (IFSPT).

“International co-operation speeds up the circulation of knowledge between countries," says de Carvalho Botelho Lima. "We hope that everyone involved in this work will benefit personally and professionally.”

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