Close to 1,500 miles away, Guatemalan physicians learn about anything from concussions to a Jones fracture through a little webcam on top of their computer.
The videoconferences are an initiative of several local educators and doctors working with Athletes in Action, a faith-based sports ministry based in Ohio, used to exchange information related to soccer injuries.
"We found through visits (to Guatemala) that most of the medical care provided to the general population there is good, but there is a substantial lack of knowledge pertaining to sports medicine expertise," said Gary Wilkerson, research coordinator for the Athletic Training Education program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
"In the United States we have developed many different treatment methods ... that practitioners in other countries, Guatemala specifically, tend not to be familiar with in the general training they receive," he added.
During the one-hour videoconference with physicians of the Guatemalan Soccer Medicine Association, J.A. Dorizas, a doctor at Wellspring Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, presented a case on Wednesday of a 20-year-old who suffered a Jones fracture.
Through a presentation in English and Spanish and an interpreter in the city of Guatemala he went over the symptoms, decisions on how to manage the injury and specific techniques he used to treat the patient.
"Even though there is limited access to equipment, I think just having the knowledge that there are different treatment alternatives and techniques, can encourage them to be more innovative," said Dr. Dorizas in his office where the videoconference was held.
Dr. Wilkerson and Dr. Marisa Colston, professor in the UTC Department of Health and Human Performance, provided lectures on sports injury prevention and treatment to physicians and physiotherapists in the Guatemalan Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation in the Central American country last summer.
From that visit came the idea of the videoconferences, Dr. Colston said. Topics are based on the likelihood of the sports injury and needs they saw during their visit, she said.
They are the first volunteers of Athletes in Action to organize this type of exchange, said Paul Newman, director of sports performance for the ministry, but it's something the ministry would like to expand.
"It's important no matter where you are, no matter what profession you are in, if you have experience or have been blessed to have knowledge, to be able to help those who maybe don't have that experience or knowledge," he said. "It's important to break down barriers and build relationships between borders."
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