HEALTHY ATHLETES®

The Healthy Athletes program is an initiative developed by Special Olympics Incorporated with a mission of improving the overall health of our athletes through various health screenings. This is a wonderful program that offers our athletes the opportunity to improve their health in an environment that is focused on the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Thanks to the friendship of Missouri health professionals, the following screenings have been offered to SOMO athletes free of charge.

"People with intellectual disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk for health issues, and health care professionals are not trained in or experienced with caring for people with intellectual disabilities."
- Special Olympics, Incorporated

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If you want more detailed information on any of the aspects of Healthy Athletes or if you are a medical professional looking to get involved in this one-of-a-kind program, contact our Training Manager Johnathon Hankinson at 573-635-1660 or Hankinson@somo.org.


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Healthy Athletes


Dentists and hygienists provide one-on-one instruction on proper tooth brushing techniques, an oral health screening using tongue blades and flashlights (no treatment is given), and information on the value of nutrition in maintaining good oral health. Thanks to the Missouri Dental Association.

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Physical Therapists assess and record information about flexibility, functional strength and balance. They test flexibility of the hamstring, calf, anterior hip and shoulder rotator muscles; functional strength of the abdominal and leg muscles and balance. Thanks to the Missouri Physical Therapy Association.

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Healthy Athletes 

As the audiological component of Healthy Athletes®, Healthy Hearing was created to assess the hearing of athletes using multiple screening methods such as pure tone testing and tympanometry. In some cases, like at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games, healthy Hearing volunteers are able to provide free hearing aids that immediately restore hearing for athletes, thanks to corporate donations.

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Fit Feet helps Special Olympics athletes step lively on the playing field, and in everyday life. Many athletes suffer from foot and ankle pain, or deformities that impair their performance. In fact, up to 50 percent of Special Olympics athletes experience one or more preventable or treatable foot conditions that can affect their sports participation. Often, these individuals are not fitted with the best shoes and socks for their particular sport. To alleviate these problems, volunteer podiatrists work with athletes to evaluate problems of the feet, ankles and lower extremity biomechanics.

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Healthy Athletes

The mission of the Special Olympics Health Promotion program is to improve the quality and length of life for Special Olympics athletes through healthy behaviors. Within the Healthy Athletes Health Promotion program, health professionals provide health screenings, interactive educational tools and motivational health information. The main objectives of the Health Promotion program are to: encourage and enhance healthy behaviors; reduce risky behaviors; improve self-efficacy and self-advocacy; and increase the investment of health promotion leaders for people with intellectual disabilities.

Healthy Athletes Health Promotion focuses on the following core health areas: 
- Nutrition/Hydration
- Bone Health
- Sun Safety
- Tobacco Avoidance and Cessation
- Physical Activity

Additional health topics have included: hygiene and sanitation; sleep deprivation; food and water-borne illness; cardiovascular health; and night safety.

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The mission of Opening Eyes is to improve the quality of life for the millions of individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities by optimizing their vision, eye health and visual skills through quality eye care. Some objectives are to provide screenings to Special Olympics athletes and educate athletes, parents and coaches about the importance of regular eye care. Special Olympics athletes who participate in an Opening Eyes screening may be fitted for new eyeglasses, sports goggles, or sunglasses at no cost to the athlete.

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Healthy Athletes


MedFest is a screening program that facilitates the required standard sports physical examination for current and prospective Special Olympics athletes. Special Olympics Missouri requires that all athletes who want to participate must be examined by a physician or trained medical professional who completes the “medical certification” section of the Athlete Registration Form.

With the help of local volunteer health care professionals, MedFest provides thousands of people with intellectual disabilities the chance to participate in year-round Special Olympics sports training and athletic competition. The physical examinations at MedFest are conducted by volunteer medical professionals and are free to current and prospective athletes. Exams include: registration and assessments of medical history; height and weight; blood pressure; cardiovascular; abdominal; musculoskeletal evaluation; and check-out/referral for follow-up care. MedFest exams also address questions and concerns of athletes’ parents and guardians.

 

 

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