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Dr. David Salonen, a musculoskeletal radiologist based at the Toronto Western Hospital, is currently volunteering his time and expertise at the Winter Olympics in Whistler, B.C. Dr. Salonen, who has been with UHN for more than 16 years, shares his thoughts on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What are you doing at the Winter Olympics? I am here as one of the physicians providing health care to the Olympic athletes, officials and the people working at the Games.
What type of care do you provide?I specialize in musculoskeletal radiology. The Vancouver Olympic Committee has put together a team of 19 radiologists from across the country to examine people who are likely to sustain injuries, particularly to soft tissues, bones and joints. We are using different modalities — digital plain film, ultrasound, CT and MRI — to help determine the level of the abnormality and try to manage it, in order to get athletes back to their sport to perform, and hopefully, be successful at the Winter Olympics.
What kind of hours are you working there?I'm working pretty much 12-hour days every day.
How many medical imaging scans are expected to take place at the Games?According to a recent article in Vancouver Sun, radiologists expect to do an estimated 900 imaging scans on athletes and officials. The demand for medical imaging has increased with successive Winter Games. From Salt Lake City in 2002 to Torino in 2006, the number of medical imaging studies increased by 40 per cent.
What does this opportunity mean to you professionally?It's definitely an honour to have been identified as one of the people with the ability and tools to be involved in these games. Also, it gives me an opportunity to work with people who share my interest in sports medicine. This experience has also allowed me to use my expertise and engage with athletes, and hopefully, help them get back on track — their bobsleds or skis, for example — to fulfill their lifelong dream.
Who is looking after your UHN patients while you're away?I am lucky in that I work with a group of physicians at UHN who have the same expertise as I do. They have picked up my caseloads in my absence. Without them I would not have been able to do this. What they are doing is as important as what I am doing. I would not have been able to leave for two weeks without their support.
What part of this event are you enjoying the most?I am definitely enjoying meeting people from across the country who have come together to volunteer their time and be involved in the medical-care team. I am also enjoying seeing the athletes compete and being engulfed in that whole experience.