After ace athlete Hima Das was ruled out of the World Championships due to back injury, it has now come into the public domain that her injury was life-threatening and despite that, she continued running in various championships in Europe.
The issue has come to the fore with the release of a letter written by President of Indian Federation of Sports Medicine, Dr PSM Chandran in May this year to Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), Chief Executive Officer, Rajesh Rajagopalan.
The letter also points to the medical condition of three TOPS athletes of Sports Authority of India (SAI) which includes Gymnast Dipa Karmarkar, (name missing in the updated TOPS list), Javelin Thrower Neeraj Chopra and 400-meter runner Hima Das.
It says that 19-year-old Das was not fully fit for the World Relay Championships held in Yokohama last May as she was suffering from Lumbar Spondylitis and which could be career-threatening to her. Das suffered a muscle spasm in the Asian Athletic Championships in Doha after which she was not able to complete her race in April this year.
"Hima Das, a 400-metre runner. Two days back media reported that Hima who is in Yokohama for the World relay championships is suffering from severe backache, diagnosed as Lumbar Spondylitis, which could turn out to be a career-threatening injury for a runner. It is pertinent to note that Hima had pulled out due to muscle spasm after getting off the blocks in 400 metres heats at the Asian Athletic Championships in Doha last month," the letter said.
After that she continued to take part in the various sporting events around the world with other team members, worsening her injury. The letter advised her rest and rehabilitation complemented by medication. In July, Hima bagged five gold medals - four in 200m and one in 400m event in different events in Europe.
"The report also added that Hima has been advised rest and rehabilitation complemented by medication. Nevertheless, as per reports, she will be travelling with other members of the relay team to Poland for an overseas camp. To add insult to injury, today it is reported that Hima had run in the world relays championship in Yokohama where the Indian team cut a sorry figure by finishing at 17th position. This makes the whole story of Hima`s injury baffling and mysterious," the letter stated.
According to the letter, lumbar spondylitis from which Hima was suffering needed rest and physiotherapy. But instead of this, Hima was allowed to participate in events along with the team.
As per the letter, Ayurveda has treatment for lumbar spondylitis and it was advised that responsibility of rehabilitation of TOPS injured athletes should not be left to the national federations.
"If she is suffering from lumbar spondylitis, she needs to be given rest and physiotherapy and be taken care of by the best rehabilitation experts within the country or abroad. Instead of allowing her to continue travelling with the team, she needs to be called back and her condition assessed by experts in modern medicine as well as in traditional medicine who will also chalk out a proper treatment and rehabilitation program for her," the letter said.
"Ayurveda is a good option for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions like lumbar spondylitis. TOPS has to take a lead on this and it should undertake the responsibility of rehabilitation of injured athletes who are under the scheme and not to leave it with the national federations to deal with," it added.
Other than Hima, Dipa Karmarkar and Javelin Thrower Neeraj Chopra also sustained injuries.
"Dipa is undergoing rehabilitation for her injured and operated knee since the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her rehabilitation raises many questions. The surgeon who had operated her is stationed in Mumbai, her personal physiotherapist is stationed in Jammu and she is stationed in Delhi/Agartala. Dipa has been consulting physiotherapists in SAI, in Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital and also some private practitioners."An anti-gravity treadmill imported at a cost of Rs 38 lakhs especially for her rehabilitation is now lying idle at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. It is also not known who is the nodal person who is accountable for Dipa`s rehabilitation and whether any periodic progress report on her rehabilitation is being filed With TOPS HQ," the letter said.
"Another athlete, Chopra, who is a strong contender for an Olympic medal had undergone surgery on his throwing elbow joint couple of weeks back, His surgeon is located in Mumbai. Not much is known where he is undergoing rehabilitation now. The fact that the injury happened in his throwing arm is a matter of serious concern and he deserves to be taken care of by the best rehabilitation centre in the world, not just for his injured elbow but for his entire musculoskeletal aperture to overcome the fast deteriorating detraining effect caused by the injury," the letter added.