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July 12, 1976

Physician Must Empathize With Athlete

JAMA. 1976;236(2):181-183. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270020051028

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Winston P. Riehl, MD, a person very likely to be visited by someone under stress during the last Olympics, says most American participants seemed to handle the pressure pretty well.

"The fact that they have the capacity to handle pressure probably contributed to their getting as far as the Olympics," suggests Dr Riehl, who was chief physician for the American team.

Nonetheless, says the soft-spoken New Orleans native, "not all athletes are stoic, do-or-die types. In competition, some become more sensitive to little things that they think may affect their performance. They will come in to see a physician for seemingly trivial complaints that, at times when they are not competing, probably don't bother them at all."

Consequently, he thinks, one part of the Olympic medical support effort that perhaps could use more attention is individual counseling. "Some of the athletes just want someone to talk with."

Sometimes coaches, trainers,