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Behind the scenes at FC Bayern’s medical checks

A Sunday morning. Mid-August. Munich Airport. Philippe Coutinho is on the way to his new club. Hi everyone! The Brazilian is to sign a contract with FC Bayern. But before that the 27-year-old still has to pass the medical check. So off we go, straight from the plane to the Hospital Barmherzige Brüder München. The obligatory examination before a transfer is prescribed by the German Football League. The GFL requires every Bundesliga professional to provide annual proof of their fitness. This is to be understood in such a way that you deal with a player all day long. It starts with the anamnesis, i.e. with the medical history. The players like to forget injuries. So now I have to find out with the help of old newspaper reports and the internet. I’m having this done for me, so that I – when the player comes – am quite in the picture. He can’t tell me anything. Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt, club doctor of the FC Bayern and this for more than 40 years. For several months he and his team have had a new home. On an area of over 500m² an orthopedic and radiological department has been built on the Säbener Straße with the latest generation of equipment This is outstanding. More is not possible! And we have also been able to equip everything generously. The club was also very future-oriented here. So now we are, I think, in a very good place. The Hospital Barmherzige Brüder in Munich: Here Philippe Coutinho completes the first part of the medical check: the cardiological and internal examinations. Prof. Dr. Roland Schmidt, also club doctor at FC Bayern, is responsible for this part. He literally puts the player through his physical evaluation. During the internal cardiological examination all important organ systems are analyzed. All blood values are looked at, urine tests are performed. Followed by the exercise and fitness tests. 90 minutes later the examinations at the hospital are over and the tour continues to Säbener Straße. There Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt is already expecting the potential new player. The sports medical examination, the second part of the check takes place at the orthopedic department. This is not standardized but varies from club to club. The doctor alone decides how the new players are examined. With his hands, Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt feels the smallest changes in the structure of muscles and tendons and looks for pain points. His sensitivity is unique. In the medical department of FC Bayern the best of two worlds come together. Craft and technology, expertise and know-how, experience and innovation. After the extensive examination by the team doctor, his diagnosis is supported by the use of modern equipment to get to the bottom of the weaknesses of a potential new player. We now do the initial examination, which typically includes an MRI of the lumbar spine, knee joints, pelvis and occasionally also the MRI of the ankle joints if injuries have occurred before. We will now do this one by one in the MRI. He is now lying in the scanner for one to one and a half hours to generate all the images needed. Philippe Coutinho also has an MRI exam to check the structure and function of his tissues and organs. The devices deliver high-contrast images of enormous detail, but you must be able to read them. The anamnesis, the painfulness and the symptoms as a whole must be on your mind, in order to bring this in line with the pictures. And that is very, very difficult! Another station: X-ray. For a player these examinations are routine. Almost every professional player has changed clubs at some point and knows what to expect on that day. Here, too, the physicians are concerned to be able to exclude any previous damage and thus not to take any unforeseeable risks. Portable equipment is used for ultrasound examinations in the practice rooms. The two team doctors Dr. Jochen Hahne and Prof. Dr. Peter Ueblacker know what is important. It is important that we have a good resolution and of course a good usability, so that we can easily examine the patient. We have the advantage of always having the portable systems with us. This is good when we are travelling, so that we can take ultrasound images in the hotel and in the cabin. But now it is done. Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt and his team have no objections to the transfer. FC Bayern has signed six new players. In this transfer period they all passed the medical check. Now they can go on the hunt for the championship with their new team.

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