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Allegheny Health Network Provides Medical Support at 42nd Annual Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games

Thursday, February 7, 2019

For the fifth consecutive year, Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Sports Medicine team will provide on-site medical support to athletes competing in the Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Winter Games. The 42nd annual Winter Games, featuring more than 350 athletes and 175 coaches, will be held on February 10-12 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

The AHN team, led by orthopaedic surgeon Robert Schilken, MD, includes sports medicine fellows Matthew Flanagan, DO, Betsy Reese, DO and Daesoon Leem, MD, as well as Dolores Schilken, BSN, a nurse at AHN’s Peters Township Surgery Center, and athletic trainer Richelle Beall, ATC.

“While our role is to meet the various sports medicine needs of this event’s athletes so that they can perform at their highest level, participating in the SOPA Winter Games is a truly unique honor for the AHN team,” said Dr. Schilken. “It’s an excellent opportunity for us to connect with the disability community, and ultimately makes us better physicians for the diverse communities we serve.”

According to the Special Olympics organization, different coping abilities and communication skills can mask health concerns for individuals with intellectual disabilities, leading a breakdown in quality of health care and health education. The organization notes that when providers and fellows engage in events such as the Special Olympics and with the disability community, they take these skills back to their practices and provide higher quality health care not just for Special Olympic athletes, but for individuals with disabilities in their communities.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year-round training and competition in 21 Olympic-type sports to nearly 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This year’s Winter Games will feature competitions in alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and speed skating.

Designated an Official U.S. Olympic Regional Medical Center, AHN is one of a few leading medical providers selected by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to provide comprehensive medical services to elite Team USA athletes, including orthopedics and sports medicine, primary care, cardiovascular care, neurosurgery, physical therapy, and more.

AHN also is the official medical provider of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Gannon University, the Community College of Allegheny County and 19 Pittsburgh-area high school athletic programs.