It’s the sporting showdown that tests athletes to the limit of their abilities—and volunteers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), England are at the heart of the action, the school announced on its website.

Staff and students from the audiology course are in attendance at the 2017 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games in Sheffield to conduct hearing tests for the competitors.

According to DMU, around 2,600 athletes with learning disabilities from across England, Scotland, and Wales are competing in sports including football, judo, sailing, powerlifting, equestrianism, and tennis.

As part of the games, all the sportsmen and women are offered a range of on-the-spot medical health screenings.

The aim of the Healthy Athletes program is to improve every competitor’s ability to train and compete in Special Olympics, with check-ups offered in a welcoming, friendly, and fun environment, said DMU. It also offers invaluable experience for the students, said Wendy Stevens, senior lecturer in audiology at DMU and clinical director for healthy hearing at the Special Olympics.

“A hearing test is one of those things that is often last on most people’s to-do list,” she said. “People with learning disabilities get all their healthcare needs met, but, again, a hearing test might be a low priority and hearing loss can go undetected or mistaken for behavioral problems.”

“One of the fundamental things the students will learn about is communication,” said Stevens. “At an international event, that might be to do with language but athletes may have communication difficulties as well. They might not be able to communicate verbally. They might also have some behavioral problems that students have to deal with. Students have to be able to think on their feet and adapt their clinical skills to meet the needs of each particular athlete.”

“We follow a Special Olympics protocol. If an athlete passes the test, they get a form confirming it. If they don’t, and we find some hearing loss, they get a letter to take to their GP or an audiology department,” said Stevens in the announcement.

In 2013, Stevens took a group of students to the last GB National Games, which were held at Bath, where the DMU team screened 300 athletes.

A total of 14 DMU students, graduates, and staff plus clinical staff from hospitals in Sheffield and Barnsley, will be screening athletes at the games.

“It’s also about having fun,” Stevens added. “The volunteers have the chance to watch some events, present awards, and attend the opening ceremony at Bramall Lane.”

Source: De Montfort University Leicester