In this episode, Physiotherapist at University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust, Osman Ahmed, talks about the 6th IOC Conference and research.
Today, Osman talks about takeaways from the IOC conference in Monaco, evolving qualitative research, and taking action against abuse. How many different hats does Osman wear?
Hear about correcting inaccurate information, the importance of protecting athletes, Osman’s exciting future developments, and get his valuable advice, all on today’s episode of The Healthy, Wealthy & Smart Podcast.
- “It’s so easy to read something that you disagree with, get angry about it, tell your mates about it at coffee time, and then share it in a WhatsApp link to your friends and laugh at it.”
- “It’s the most important thing we can do is to protect our athletes when they’re in our sport.”
- “Context is everything.”
- “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
- “Yes, you want to move your career forward, but your underlying ‘why’ should be to improve the health of everyone.”
- “Your career is a marathon. It’s not a sprint.”
- “You’re not wedded to one job for your career or your life. There’s other places that your career can take you with the degree and the skills that you’ve got.”
More About Osman Ahmed:
Dr Osman Ahmed is a Physiotherapist at University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust (Poole, United Kingdom) and a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth (United Kingdom). He trained as a Physiotherapist at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, before undertaking his Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Physiotherapy and subsequently his PhD at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is employed by the Football Association (FA) in England to work as a Physiotherapist with their elite disability squads and has been a member of the Team GB medical staff at both the 2008 Beijing and 2016 Paralympic Games. He teaches on the FA’s Advanced Trauma Medical Management course and has recently been appointed the Para Football Classification Lead at the FA.
His PhD was focused on sports concussion and Facebook, and since then he has both published and presented widely (primarily on concussion in sport and technology in healthcare). He holds several governance roles within Para Sports federations including Medical & Sports Science Director at the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football, Medical Unit Co-Lead at the Para Football Foundation, and Medical Committee member of the International Blind Sport Association. He is a Co-Chair of the Concussion in Para Sport Group, and a Board Member of the Concussion in Sport Group.
Osman holds Associate Editor positions at the British Journal of Sports Medicine and at BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine and sits on the Institutional Ethics committee of World Rugby as an external member. He is also a Scientific Committee board member of the Isokinetic Football Medicine Conference.
To learn more, follow Osman at:
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Read the Full Transcript Here:
Hey, Jasmine, welcome back to the podcast. I’m so happy to have you on and so happy to see you again.
Hi, Karen. Thanks for having me. Really good to be back.
Yes. And so Osman and I both at the International look, Olympic Committee conference in Monaco, a couple of weeks ago, we actually did a talk together. So for the first part of this interview, we’ll talk a little bit about we spoke about what we spoke about, and and then get into some of your big takeaways from the conference. And then of course, some of your upcoming projects, papers and all that kind of fun stuff. So why don’t I give the microphone back to you, and tell the audience what our talk was, and kind of what we spoke about it IOC? So go ahead.
Thanks so much, Karen, I probably first thing to say is that we’ve Omicron raging around the world in the week before Christmas, it feels a bit surreal to think back to what was less than a month ago when we’re actually out in Monaco presenting together. So the world has changed very quickly. Hopefully, it changes just as quickly back to the nice, stable world that we were getting towards before then. So I have to see what happens in the coming weeks. But yeah, it was great to present together it was something I think that we’ve both been speaking about for a while in our respective areas about how clinicians can engage with the mainstream media and social media for injury prevention, and athlete welfare, and just generally for spreading positive public health messages to our patients and clients. And so how we did it, for those of you that weren’t in the room, we started off by looking at some different examples of how the mainstream media discusses different injuries and issues. And we took the lens of sport concussion, because that’s an area that I’m fairly familiar with. And I’ve got a bit of an interest in from a research perspective. So I talk through some of the different examples of how concussion had been discussed in the mainstream media starting way, way back with Charlie Chaplin, hitting people over the head, progressing through to the movie concussion, more recently with Will Smith, and also touching upon some South Park episodes, the office and new girl. So other examples of concussion being in the mainstream media. And we had a bit of a brainstorming session, really, it was a nice interactive workshop that we did to everybody. That wasn’t a room there. Thank you for contributing so much. He made it a lot of fun and asked a lot of questions and stimulated a lot of discussion between the group. And yeah, I mean, it was quite a nice flowing dialogue between everybody there. And there was some really good examples that people in the crowd shared in terms of their experiences with either engaging in the mainstream media or seeing some negative examples, and some less than perfect discussions and injury representations and illness and medical representations, either in TV shows or in news reports and things like that. So yeah, I mean, session was pretty good. I thought I’m obviously I was one of the CO presenters. But yeah, that was a fun session to be part of. And then obviously, from your angle, Karen, it was really good to hear your thoughts in terms of how clinicians can engage with the media, coming up with some really practical tips for people that would be interested in doing that in terms of how to pitch to journalists, sort of things that you should do when you’re reaching out to journalists, and some good examples of how clinicians have worked and engage with journalists in order to get positive, evidence based, accurate, scientifically valid information out to places like the Washington Post and New York Times and kind of upmarket newspapers in that regard. So yeah, it was a fun session to be part of and had some nice feedback afterwards, which was made it worthwhile. And yeah, it was a pleasure to be part of it.
Yeah, I really enjoyed the discussion within the workshop from with the participants, because a lot of the workshops and we know, we go to all these conferences, and it’s usually the person up on stage speaking, and there’s not a lot of interaction during the talk, except for maybe someone gets up and asks a question, they sit back down. But what I really loved is that, like you said, people were sharing their experience with maybe being in the media, or really asking the question of like, hey, is this movie concussion? Was this positive or negative? And it was interesting that people had a lot of different views on what they believed as was as positive was this negative? You know, I think we can all agree on some of the things like Charlie Chaplin hitting someone on the head or, or a head injury being the butt of the joke. We can all agree that’s not great. You know, that would be a maybe a not so great representation of that. But with the movie concussion, I think they it brought a lot more conversation to the group. I don’t know what do you think? Yeah,
absolutely. I think the noise thing about the topic that we discussed as it’s something that everybody’s got an opinion on. I mean, arguably, you don’t even need to be a clinician to have an opinion on how injuries represented in the mainstream media. But certainly, I’ve seen lots of workshops and conferences and sessions where I’m not particularly ofay, or knowledgeable about the area that’s been speaking about. And I probably wouldn’t feel that comfortable in terms of sticking my hand up and joining into discussion in front of lots of other people. But because it was a mainstream topic about the mainstream media, there was lots of people that felt comfortable to do that. So yeah, it was great from that regard.
Yeah. And I think it gave people some tools moving forward, to maybe reach out to a journalist or to maybe even reach out to say, hey, this article wasn’t the best. And do you think you can? Like, I’d be happy to contribute to give you a little bit more evidence to that. And I think that’s something that instead of going on social media and complaining about an article or a video, instead, why don’t we empower therapists and researchers with the tools, they need to reach out to the journalists to say, Hey, I appreciate you, including physio, therapist, researcher XYZ. But what they shared is probably the not not the most accurate or evidence based. And I’d be happy to give you some resources or speak to you or write a and an article follow up article.
Plenty, absolutely. And I think we’re completely on the same page here. I mean, it’s so easy to read something that you disagree with, get angry about it. So you may it’s about a coffee time, and then maybe sharing a whatsapp link to your friends and laugh at it, it’s a little bit more challenging, but a lot more productive to actually reach out to those people. And like you say, do something constructive, take control of the narrative, as we kept saying, so who is controlling the narrative, we can control the narrative. And that’s a good way of controlling that narrative is by reaching out to those people, and suggested some of the things that you said there. So putting some evidence based links in talking about proper scientific evidence, correcting in a nice, gentle way, some of the inaccurate information that may have been shared in the article, there are really, really good things to do. I think so. Hopefully, if people in the audience doing that, and anybody listening, that’s picking up between the lines of what we’re saying here can do that as well. That’d be great.
Yeah, and it’s easy. It doesn’t cost any money. It just costs a little bit of your time. And I mean, like, a tiny bit of your time.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, time is money to a lot of people work, especially if you work in private practice. I don’t, but I’m sure a lot of people listening here well, but yeah, well, it doesn’t really take that long, just drop a quick email or a note to a journalist, to tee up some potentially better ways of reporting on what they’ve reported on, maybe serve as a link for any future articles. I think it was one thing that we both touched on that, I think is a really nice way of sort of crossing that divide. And bridging that gap is by getting in contact with a journalist or newspaper and saying, Look, I’m a clinician, I work locally, if you’ve got any pieces that you’re putting out about a health related issue or a medical condition, or if you want to check anything with me for accuracy, drop me a quick email, send me a quick text message or WhatsApp. And I’ll get back to you about that. And then you’re then in a position not to create content for the newspaper, you’re not writing their article is not a freelancer for them. But what you are doing is kind of member checking and fact checking and steering the journalists towards more medically accurate correct reporting. So yeah, I think that was a key take home for for me and hopefully, for anybody listening today as well.
Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s a great take home from our talk. So from and also a nice transition into what were your other big takeaways and take homes, from some of the other sessions you went to? So if you want to maybe describe the session, and then what your biggest take this session, the speakers and your biggest takeaways?
Yep, so the one that definitely made a big impact on me was the session on hashtag metoo. So it’s about abuse in sports, intentional abuse in sport, and I came up the topic from different angles. So my mount Joy talks about the Larina SAR case that I’m sure everybody listening will be familiar with, which is horrific. And I suppose, because it’s maybe slipped out the media attention for a few months now, I wasn’t completely familiar with a lot of the graphic and horrific details relating to it. So that was a real eye opener again, for me in terms of how endemic that was and how that could have been nipped in the bud at several stages earlier from the information that we were given there. And I think the other speakers in this session, we’re fantastic as well. So Shree Becca, I’m a big fan of sharees work. I went to most of our sessions IOC in Monaco, and, again, she helped deliver a fantastic session around The similar areas as well. And yet, sir to a lackey, who is based at Yale in the US did a really good session about Ghanaian Paralympians, and the perceptions and abuse that they suffer as well back in the home country, with regards to being disabled, essentially, and being an athlete and the barriers that they face and the challenges they overcome. And I thought one thing that was really nice from yesterday’s talk specifically was the fact that she sampled the video interviews, and she wove those into her presentation. So you can actually hear and see the Paralympians talking about those things. So unfortunately, like, you can’t transport lots and lots of people to the conference to speak as part of your panel. But yes, I did the next best thing, I think in terms of getting the athlete voices literally embedded into a presentation. And that really did magnify and sort of hammer home the points in a really strong way. So for me, that’s something that I’ve since gone back to some of the sporting federations I work with. So I’m involved with the if CPF, which is the International Federation of cerebral palsy, football, and power Football Foundation. And I’ve spoken to both of those organizations about this and the resources that were provided in that thought were really helpful, just to make sure that we’re on top of all safeguarding issues in our sport, I think, for a lot of people listening, I mean, it might sound like quite a boring thing, and quite a basic thing. But ultimately, it’s the most important thing I think we can do is to protect our athletes when they’re in our sport, and make sure that we’ve got the right policies, the right procedures, and the right steps in place to look after them. Because as the Larina SRK, showed, I mean that the impacts of getting those sort of basic steps wrong or underestimating those sort of areas of sport are huge and can have profound and very long lasting effects to the athletes involved today. Yeah, for me, that was that was probably the session that had the biggest impact on me. Again, I’m qualitative in my research background, so I was really pleased to be a part of the session with Eva bahagian, Caroline barley, and Christina farga. I thought all three did a really good job of talking about qualitative research. And I think, looking at other talks as well, during the whole conference series, there’s a lot more awareness. Now, I think that with athletes and with patients, generally, we don’t just need numbers, we don’t just need hard cold quantitative analysis, which undoubtedly, is very, very valuable in terms of what we’re doing with our athletes and patients, we also need some context to that. And I do feel quite strongly that a lot of that context does come from qualitative research and listening to our players listening to athletes, getting that extra depth to their experiences to either layer on top of the quantitative data or to stand alone and just be independent data that we look at and say this data has got numbers, it’s got words, but these are the patient’s words. And these are what the patients and players think. And we’re going to look at that data, we’re going to analyze it, and we’re going to respect that data, we’re going to act on that data. So Alan McCall, I was in Alan session as well. And he’s at Arsenal Football Club, and they do a lot of work there with readiness and return to play. And they collect a lot of data as part of that. But it’s really pleasing for me to see some of those high profile as Alan, talking there about the importance of quantitative data and listening to play as the qualitative sorry. Data are listening to players and getting that information as well. So yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t call it a revolution in terms of qualitative research. In sports medicine, I think it’s a gradual evolution. I think, as we evolve and move through the 2020s as we are, I think there’s going to be a greater appreciation, really of the power that qualitative research can bring. And we’re going to see a lot more of it, hopefully.
Yeah. And in comparing IOC 2017 to this one, I don’t know that there was much talk of qualitative data in any in any of the talks in 2017.
I can’t remember why for dinner last week.
I don’t. I don’t I don’t believe there was. And so I think there is this definite shift in thinking that, hey, if we want to keep our players safe and healthy, and reduce injuries, then we have to listen to them. And we have to incorporate this qualitative data into how we as clinicians, because you and I are clinicians, how we work with our patients, you know, it’s a little more than, Oh, you just have to listen to them. Because I think you have to listen, and you also have to understand what their words mean.
Oh, yeah. Listening processing, as well. So you’re not just a set of ears, you’ve got something between your ears as well. And that’s the thing that you have to use to process it and then also, act on it. I mean, it’s not just a case of listening and processing you need to be Some actions off the back of that change that results from that. So, yeah, completely agree.
Yeah. Because like you said, from the me to talk with Margo and Sheree, and policies and procedures, yes, of course we need to have those in place. But if you’re not listening to your players, you can have all the policies and procedures you want. If the Larry Nasser case says anything, right, they had a lot of policies and procedures in place and USA Gymnastics. Yeah. But they weren’t listening to the countless girls and women who are abused by this man over many, many years. Because they did speak some of them did tell people, nobody listened.
Again, it’s the acting management if you’re listening, maybe process maybe haven’t. But is the acting that needs Yeah, as well. And that’s a key part of it.
Yeah. And I think placing that that athlete in the center. In that case, in particular, it wasn’t about the athlete, it was about all the money and all of the prestige that comes with those athletes in your program. So you don’t want to blow up the program, they apparent from looking from from an outsider perspective, it’s like they didn’t want to blow up the program to help save the girls.
Nine. I mean, in an ideal world, nobody should go to an international sports medicine conference and listen to a talk about that scale of abuse. But I mean, if if there is a positive about sitting in a session like that, so that you can spread the word about it. Take action to make sure that never happens again, in any sport ever. Exactly. Absolutely. abomination that happened.
Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, one of my biggest takeaways from the whole event is that context is, is everything. If you’re not taking, whether it’s quantitative data, qualitative data, exercises, application to the, into the clinic, if you’re not looking at the context, around the person in front of you, then I feel like it’s all for naught. And the other thing, my other big takeaway is like, I don’t really know anything. So those are my two big takeaways.
I think that’s always a good thing. If you go to a conference and come away realizing how little you know, I think you’ve been to a good conference. Generally, I think there’s always so many clever people that you listen to and learn from. I went through a cardiology session as well as on absolutely not expert at all. But you go into sessions like that, and you learn a little bit and hopefully take stuff back. And you can apply some of it to your practice. And yeah, it’s good that you felt that way. So I did as well.
wasn’t just me, then. Yeah, I left. Oh, I’m the worst.
How do I not know anything? What am I doing in this job? It really spiraled down on the plane ride home.
Yeah, so any Junior clinicians or researchers listening, trust us. We’re old in the tooth, myself and Karen. So if we feel like this, our stage of our career, then don’t ever worry that if you’re a new grad, and you don’t know everything about everything, but there’s something wrong with you, because it really is not, because you get to the end of your career, and there’s still a lot of things you don’t know, more things you don’t know, at the end of your career than you did at the start of the career. So yeah, yes, definitely. Definitely a message I want to share.
Yeah. Excellent. Anything else from the conference that was for you? You know, a big takeaway from any part of it. Or do you think we covered it all?
For me, it was just how lovely and nice it was to actually see people face to face again, it just been such a rubbish. 1819 months leading up to that conference had been postponed two times. It was just lovely to actually get to a place. See people do want to give a lot of thanks to the people that hosted the conference. But the organization was next level in terms of how well run it was. Our safe, everybody felt everybody had masks on. I think we were talking about how good it was in terms of the COVID checks going into the venue, everything like that. So although there were, I think, seven 800 people there, there’s a lot of people there. It never felt unsafe. And everybody there was glad to be there. And I think everybody seems to have a good time.
Yeah. And that’s what Sheree and I spoke a cup of Sri Becker knights a couple days ago. And we said, you know, the thing that was so great was that everyone there, it felt like, people were there to support each other, and to support sessions and support individuals and, and maybe it’s because there hasn’t been like, a larger conference like this in quite some time. But it did feel like very inclusive and supportive, and that’s kind of the vibe I got and Sheree said the same thing. It sounds like you might have felt the same. So maybe that an NF three is it’s it’s, it’s true then.
Well, I’m a qualitative researcher, so I’ll take those quotes and agree with those quotes. Yeah, I think it was just it was a nice nice yeah. place to be I think for a lot of people that first time they’ve left their country since COVID. It certainly was for me. And me too. Yeah, I think it’d be nice if that’s the that’s the vibe going forwards if we do go to a concert and can support each other’s research, and there’s not academic snobbery, or thankfully, I’ve not really been to any conferences that have been like that. But I’m aware that every now and again, there can be that element of needle two speeches and feedback and those sort of things. So hopefully, it will stays nice and constructive and supportive and positive objectives.
Agreed. Now, what do you have coming up? What do you have going on any new projects in the pipeline papers? If you can give us a preview? Obviously, can’t give it all the way. But if you can give us a preview as to what you’re working on, for 2022 and beyond?
Oh, okay. Well aware, a few different hats. So one of the hats that I wear is at the BDSM, the British Journal sports medicine. So I think it was announced on social media a little while ago that we’re having the first BDSM Live, which is a in person, conference day that’s being held in Brighton in the UK in May 2022. So we’re quite excited about that. I’m hosting that with Fiona Wilson from Ireland. So it’d be really great to co chair the day with her. And that’s certainly something I’m looking forward to. I am also off to the IPF spt. So the International Federation Sports Physical Therapy conference in Denmark in August, where I’m presenting a session with yourself again, Karen, so great to see you there. And again, that’s following up on some of the BDSM work that I’ve done in terms of patient voices and athlete engagement. So I’m really looking forward to that one as well. A lot of 2021 was involved with the concussion and parasport group that I’m a member of so working with international colleagues are involved in Paris sports main concussion. So we released our position statement last year. And hopefully off the back of that there’s going to be a lot more studies that take place in 2022. So one of the co authors, in fact, the lead author, Dr. Richard Wheeler, who’s very passionate about the area, he’s currently doing study looking at the perceptions of blind footballers towards concussion. And so he’s done a lot of data collection from that. So I’ll be working with him and the other co authors on that paper in the new year, which is exciting. And I’m also looking forward to working with Dr. Mark Murali in Australia, who’s a digital health physiotherapist might be one of the best ways to describe him. He’s very involved in the tech side of what we do is a professional physiotherapy and physical therapy. And he’s got a grant that’s been accepted on physio, digital health capabilities, and a model related to that. So I’m going to be working with him looking at that and looking at the digital side of physiotherapy as well. So got plenty of things to keep you busy. And I’m looking forward to hopefully a better year than last year.
Yes, well, you certainly have a lot to to keep you busy as well. And I should also say that you also work to your clinician.
Yeah, so my full time day job is at University Hospital, still on the south coast of England, and I’m a full time clinician, I also work part time for the Football Association as a clinician with their elite power football squad. So that’s disability football. And in the new year, I’m also going to be starting a part time role there is the power classification lead for the elite disability football program. So looking after the classifications across all the athletes, power football, sports, I’m looking forward to that role as well.
Nice. And obviously, you’ll eat and sleep at some point in between.
If you ask my wife, there’s a lot of eating, and we missed out on those too.
Good and a little bit of relaxing and a little bit of fun, right?
Definitely. Always got time for fun. Excellent. Well,
before we wrap things up, where can people find you if they want to join some of the things you’re doing? They want to have more information, they just want to say hi, where can they find you?
Yep, so probably the easiest way to get ahold of me is on Twitter and my handles, Osman H. Ahmed. And I think you’ll probably share the link in the podcast. So that’s probably the best way to find me and I’m pretty responsive on there if people do want to get in touch. Certainly if you’re interested in concussion in disability sports, or want to talk more about our work that we’ve done with the mainstream media and how we can engage with them, then I’d love to hear from you.
Excellent. And yes, that will I will have that link at podcast at healthy wealthy, smart calm in the show notes in this under this episode. And finally, I think I’ve asked you this question before, but I’ll ask it again because maybe you have new advice, but what advice would you give to your younger self knowing where you are now in your life and in your career?
For a couple of things really, don’t take yourself too seriously. I think that’s probably a key thing for any young clinicians that certainly when I was working in university, there was a lot of people that were really stressed and anxious to make a mark in the profession. And obviously, that is good. And that’s commendable when you want to keep that about you. But also, I think, being relaxed in terms of the way that you do that, and doing it in a collegiate way, I think is probably a really good way to progress your career. I like to think I did that. So that that’s less advice to me and more advice to other people. forced myself when I was younger. I’m not really sure to be honest, I’m, I’m pretty happy with the decisions I’ve made through my life so far. So yeah, probably. I don’t know. Pass. Sorry, Karen,
know that the piece of advice that you gave, don’t take yourself too seriously, is perfect. It’s perfect. And I think that a lot of people will enter into we’re both physio therapists into physiotherapy or healthcare. And kind of like you said, they really want to move their career forward. And so I think it’s important to remember Yes, you want to move your career forward, but your underlying Why should be to improve the health of everyone to improve the health of your community, your population that you see, versus getting best of XYZ, or award for this and award for that. I did this look at how great I am. But instead, how are you really impacting your community through your work?
Absolutely. So keeping everything patient centered. I think that’s basically what you’re saying there. I think probably the other thing as well is your career is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. So you don’t have to achieve all of your career goals by the age of 30. spacings out and don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself if you find you’re in a career or a job that you’re not massively enjoying. It’s a big profession out there. You’re not wedded to one job for your career or your life. There’s other places that your career can take you with a degree in the skills that you’ve got.
Perfect. That is great advice. Well, thank you so much for coming on to the podcast again.
I really appreciate it and look forward to seeing you again in person in August. So thank you so much for coming on. Thank you, Karen. And everyone. Thanks so much for listening today. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy and smart.