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Body Mechanic

  Thursday, 26 l 08 l 2010 Source:  Mind Your Body; The Straits Times   
By: Poon Chian Hui

Sports physician Roger Tian says an athlete’s body is like an F1 race car. He will listen to its sounds and examine its components to fix any ailment. POON CHIAN HUI reports

roger tian at work

I decided to specialise in sports medicine because...

I have been active in sports since I was a child, so choosing sports medicine was a no-brainer for me.

The musculoskeletal system is fascinating because...
With proper training, nutrition and care, it will grow stronger and faster.

If I were to give an analogy for what I do, I’d be a….
Mechanic. The athlete's body is akin to a high-performance F1 car. I listen to its sounds and dissect and examine its components to identify and fix the ailment.

I also fine-tune and give it the optimal “fuel mix” so that the athlete can achieve peak performance. This is done with the help of physiotherapists, dietitians, podiatrists, trainers and coaches.

I have come across all types of cases...
From the elite Olympian to the recreational athlete to the weekend warrior who over-exercises and injures himself.

Although all three types of athletes may sustain similar injuries, the treatment process for each is different.

For example. a competitive athlete may have only days before he must compete in a crucial event, while the recreational athlete tends to have more time for healing and rehabilitation.

roger tianA typical day for me would be...
I reach the hospital by 7am to handle administrative work. Besides clinic consultations, I also attend conferences with physiotherapists and radiologists, as well as teach medical students.

Lunch time is spent on research or preparing for forums and talks, which take place at least once a month.

Evenings after work are reserved for exercise, first with my three sons aged 11, eight and four. We will either kick a football around, play badminton or splash in the pool. My wife, 36, is a pharmacist.

Following that is my own exercise regimen. I run a total of 30 to 50km in a week and do strength-training weekly.

I love patients who are...
Motivated to take ownership of their health and treatment. They understand that making a full recovery takes effort as there are no miracle shortcuts. The doctor can teach you what you need to do, but you still have to do it yourself.

Patients who get my goat are...
None, really. My duty is to address my patients’ concerns and expectations and help them to the best of my ability.

One little known fact about sports injuries is...
Most sports injuries are preventable. You have to condition your body to meet the demands of your chosen sport and give it time to adapt to the rigours of training.

Get yourself fit to play, instead of playing to get fit.

Also, listen to your body – pain is a warning that something is wrong. Act before the pain worsens.

Things that put a smile on my face are...
When I learn that my patient has made a successful return to sports.

A coffee made from freshly roasted Arabica beans and a new flower spike in my orchid collection also perk me up.

It breaks my heart when...
I see people rushing through life. I find this a pity as I feel that it’s better to slow down and enjoy the little tidbits that life brings.

I wouldn’t trade places for the world because...
No other discipline in medicine lets you do field work on the running track, the football pitch, swimming pool or ball courts.

My best tip...
Everyone, from preschool kids to retirees, should find time to exercise – 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five to six days a week.

Regular exercise not only benefits physical and mental health, it also reduces one’s risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart problems.

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