BUFFALO, N.Y. — "When they go out to compete, I feel like I'm right there with them," said Dr. Stacey Watt, chief of service for the department of anesthesiology at Kaleida Health.
Dr. Watt is one of the many medical experts working behind the scenes to make the Olympics as safe as possible for athletes -- especially in the extreme heat.
With the high temperatures and humidity levels in Toyko, Dr. Watt worked closely with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to help educate and prepare for heat-related illnesses and injuries and ensure athletes are appropriately screened.
After presenting to the U.S. Olympic Committee last year about her research on malignant hyperthermia, the group ended up adding additional questions to the health screening tool for all athletes, according to a spokesperson with Kaleida.
"They had me a lot as our teams geared up for the preparation for the games," said Dr. Watt. "I came in to lecture the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee when it comes to their trainers and physician staff to not only share my knowledge of malignant hyperthermia, heat-related illness and injuries, especially the athletic population, but I was brought in a year before the planned Olympic games to really start the education process early."
Now she said she continues to consult with U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, trainers, and physicians.
Dr. Watt is coming at this from a unique perspective -- as both a physician and as an athlete.
"I was very fortunate to excel in the discus event which got me not only an athletic scholarship to the University of Florida but allowed me to represent the United States in both the Pan American and U.S. Olympic Festival," reflected Dr. Watt.
She added, "In doing so I learned so much about what it took to really excel in an event and to reach that pinnacle of success and I love that I've been able to transfer that passion into medicine and now I can help my fellow athletes, although on the sidelines, I can still be with them at heart on the field."