MSUToday
Published: Aug. 7, 2013

Team of osteopathic residents assists during World Dwarf Games

Contact(s): Pat Grauer College of Osteopathic Medicine office: 517) 353-0616 cell: (517) 214 8736 pat.grauer@hc.msu.edu, Mat Saffarian Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation cell: (989) 239-7752 saffaria@msu.edu

While teams of athletes from across the world competed in the 2013 World Dwarf Games at Michigan State University, another team was busy making sure these world-class competitors stayed healthy.

Mat Saffarian, Rani Gebara and Melissa Andric – 2010 MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine alumni and fourth-year residents in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation – assisted the MSU athletic training staff with treating any acute injuries and illness that may have happened during the games.

“With the help of the athletic training staff, we were recording the data at the request of the Dwarf Athletic Association of America and will likely publish our results,” Saffarian said. “It will be the first sports medicine publication for the dwarf community.”

Students from the orthopedic surgery and physical medicine and rehabilitation interest group also helped.

“As physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, our department is perfectly suited for this event,” Saffarian said. “We are used to dealing with people with specific bio-mechanical impairments, whether it be due to skeletal dysplasia, neuropathy, stroke, etc.”

There are more than 400 different types of skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism), some of which are lethal because the fetuses never make it to term. Achondroplasia makes up about 80 percent to 90 percent of all non-lethal sub types.

Because of these differences, there are a lot of variables that come into play when treating an injury or illness.

“For example, a dwarf might have a normal-sized heart inside a small thorax, which could make breathing more difficult,” Saffarian said.

But even with the variations they saw among the players, Saffarian said his group was ready.

“The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has been preparing for the games for almost two years,” he said. “We were excited to work with this population of world-class athletes.”

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