Dr. Arthur J. De Luigi of Olney is headed to Sochi, Russia, where he has been selected to care for athletes competing in the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games.
De Luigi, 38, specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation, pain medicine and sports medicine. As a MedStar Health physician, he practices at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, MedStar Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital.
He began working with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in 2007 while completing his fellowship at the University of Utah. He also completed an internship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
De Luigi, a skier, said it is a requirement of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association for physicians themselves to be able to ski to cover events. In fact, it set up a training course that they must pass.
“Based on my track record with the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Ski and Snowboard, I was nominated for a chance to go to Sochi,” he said. “I found out in December that I was selected to go for the Paralympics. I was ecstatic — it’s been a lifelong dream to serve our athletes at the highest level. I hope that I will eventually be selected for the Olympics.”
After a stint with the Washington Nationals as they begin spring training in Florida, De Luigi will leave Friday for Sochi, where he will spend 24 days.
“I will arrive just as the Olympics are ending and the Paralympic athletes are training,” he said.
He said he is not fearful or concerned based on reports of less-than-desirable conditions in Sochi, because he was there last year covering the World Cup events for alpine skiing and snowboarding.
“I stayed at a Radisson Hotel that was beautiful,” he said. “They were still building a lot of hotels at the time, but the ones that were built were nice.”
De Liugi will be mountainside during most of the alpine skiing and snowboarding events to treat anyone needing care; at other times, he will be stationed at the Poly Clinic, treating athletes there.
“I know my focus will be on U.S. athletes, but at past events I have treated athletes from other countries, including Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Slovakia, Finland and Spain,” he said. “I will treat everything. It’s not unusual to see a lot of coughs and colds, but there are also traumatic injuries, and particularly with skiers and snowboarders, there is a risk of concussions.”
As a former active duty member of the military deployed twice to Iraq, De Luigi said he is prepared for anything.
“Being in settings under gunfire with a known enemy, you learn to prepare as much as anyone can be prepared,” he said. “In Sochi, you have to be prepared for everything from kidney stones to appendicitis.”
De Luigi said that he is extremely honored to have the opportunity to work with the Paralympians, including those who are visually impaired, are amputees, or suffer from cerebral palsy or spinal cord injuries.
“They have a bit of a pre-existing condition,” he said. “But it’s pretty inspirational to see them come out and compete like they do.”