Corrine Dutto, a physical therapist at Mountain Valley Therapy in La Grande, recently put her skills to use at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise.
PROUD VOLUNTEER: Corrine Dutto, a physical therapist with Mountain Valley Therapy, recently lent her professional expertise to athletes competing in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise. Submitted photo
Dutto was one of many physical therapists from across the country who volunteered their expertise for the Healthy Athlete Program designed to improve athletes’ health and fitness.
“I enjoyed meeting with the athletes. They were all very polite and worked very hard,” Dutto said.During Healthy Athletes events Special Olympics athletes receive a variety of health screenings including vision, foot care, hearing, dental and healthy lifestyle counseling.
The physical therapists screened the athletes for strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic conditioning. More than 2,000 athletes from over 100 countries participated in the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
The therapists worked with athletes from China, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Venezuela, Belarus, Russia and the United States. Dutto said it was an opportunity to help people improve their quality of life.
“Many of the athletes receive substandard health care in their countries, including the United States, and this gives us an opportunity to help them with health issues,” she said
The component of the testing performed by the physical therapists, called FUNfitness, allowed the therapists to identify to find the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, Dutto said.
“We spent time with the athlete and his or her coach and discussed types of training that could make the athlete’s performance better. The whole program was designed to improve the health and performance of the athletes,” she said.
Complementing the mission of the Special Olympics, the World Winter Games strives to provide world-class competition in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing and speed skating for adults and children with intellectual disabilities.
The 2009 games are the ninth World Winter Games in Special Olympics history.
“They use the same scoring system in the Special Olympics that is used in other skating competitions and some of the performances were impressive,’’ said Dutto.
Dutto said she was excited to receive a World Winter Games commemorative scarf as a reminder of her participation.
People from around the world crocheted scarves in the same blue and white yarn, each with a unique design.
Originally, the organizers had hoped to have 5,000 hand-made scarves for the athletes to take home. The support was monumental, with 55,000 scarves being made for the event.
“Boise was a sea of white and blue scarves during the games, and the venues were filled with people wearing the scarves,” Dutto said.