UIC sports-medicine physician selected for U.S. Olympic medical team

More than 10,000 of the world’s top athletes will compete in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games, pushing their bodies to new and inspiring limits. One of the U.S. team’s physicians is Dr. Mark Hutchinson, professor of orthopaedics and director of sports medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, whose primary job is to keep American athletes able to compete.

Hutchinson was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to work with Team USA athletes during high-risk moments, in which an injury is most likely to occur. He will rotate to each event’s squad as necessary.

“The most common injury for Olympic athletes is overuse or overtraining,” says Hutchinson. Such injuries can be debilitating, he said, even for elite athletes.

“It’s my responsibility to help our athletes perform faster, higher, stronger — and most importantly, be healthier.”

For Hutchinson, who is head physician for all of UIC’s athletic teams, serving on the USOC medical team is the fulfillment of a career-long goal.

“Twenty-five years ago I volunteered at the Olympic training center,” he said. “Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of U.S. Olympic athletes and teams, and those experiences served as my own training ground, preparing me for this exciting opportunity on the official Team USA medical team.”

Hutchinson was a team physician for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and the 2006 Paralympic Games in Turin, Italy. He has also worked with Team USA’s gymnastics, field hockey, basketball and soccer teams.

To Hutchinson, the Olympics are about more than athletic accomplishment.

“Watching men and women embrace the Olympic spirit is inspiring,” he said. He recalled a moment when a gold medalist waited at the finish line to congratulate each of his competitors before celebrating.

“Those moments, when an individual goes over and above as a representative of their sport or country, define the Olympic spirit.”

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