How hundreds of health care workers are keeping athletes safe at Special Olympics USA Games

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Special Olympics USA Games are underway in Central Florida, and athletes from all over the country are going after the gold.


At ESPN Wide World of Sports, where some of the biggest competitions are underway this week including track and field, basketball and powerlifting, there is a massive medical team dedicated to keeping athletes healthy and safe.

READ: DeSantis: Athletes allowed to compete in Special Olympics USA Games regardless of vaccination status

Dr. Michael Jablonski is an orthopedic surgeon at OrlandoHealth and the chief medical officer for the Special Olympics USA Games. He said part of the mission includes getting athletes the right individual care.

“We have hundreds just here. We have 12 physicians, multiple athletic trainers, nurses … providing this excellent care,” he said. “Even before the games, all 5,000 athletes had their medical history downloaded, which included any very specific medical problem, which (is) very unique to this population.”

READ: Team Florida Special Olympics Gymnastics team invited to practice with Cirque Du Soleil performers

All of the medical professionals have access to that data through an app, giving them a vital tool in keeping the athletes healthy.

“So if some athlete has an issue, whether large or small, we can pull up on this app their medical history, medications, history (and) have real-time data so we can make sure we know what’s going on,” Jablonski said.

That care extends beyond ESPN Wide World of Sports, with similar operations at every venue hosting events this week.

READ: Hundreds of Special Olympics athletes gearing up for summer games in Central Florida

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Joe Kepner

Joe Kepner, WFTV.com

I unloaded the U-Haul in Orlando in 2008, just in time to cover the Magic's run to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

Comments on this article