West Ham United's players and staff are in good hands in the shape of Club doctor Richard Weiler.
The 'Doc', as he is universally known, is an expert in sports and exercise medicine and deals with all things medical in consultation with head of sports medicine Andy Rolls and head of rehabilitation Stijn Vandenbroucke.
Weiler, who will be the doctor for the Team GB blind and cerebral palsy teams at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, is also one of the country's leading researchers into sudden cardiac events in sport.
With such a varied and interesting role to play for Club and country, West Ham TV sat down with the Doc to find out more.
Doc, what does your role as West Ham United's Club doctor entail?
RW - There are a lot of different aspects to the role and I work very closely with the whole of the rest of the medical team. We have a great support network. I also look after any medical matters that fall outside the realms of rehabilitation and physiotherapy. I do medicals, look after anything medical that is wrong with the players and work very closely with head of sports medicine Andy Rolls and head of rehab Stijn Vandenbroucke with the management of injuries. I provide emergency medical cover and a sounding board for the medical team on any aspects of science and performance research that I can help with.
On a matchday, what would your role be?
RW - My job is basically to make sure that anybody who has a major injury or suffers an illness gets the best available treatment as quickly as possible to keep them healthy and playing and maintain their performance.
As a fully-qualified doctor, what did you do before joining West Ham United and do you have any other important roles?
RW - I started off doing general practice and while I was doing that I started focusing on sports medicine. At around the same time, the new speciality of sport and exercise medicine was created and I decided to launch into that feet-first and do specialist training. I carried on doing the general practice and I still keep my hand in that now as it's very important that I keep up with everything. I work with the Football Association and look after the disability football squads - I'll be looking after the two Team GB Paralympic squads at London 2012. That's very exciting and very interesting. They are two great bunches of guys - the Blind and Cerebral Palsy football teams. We managed to get some of the guys in to train with West Ham last year, which was fantastic.
Are there any special precautions or situations you have to be mindful of in a sporting environment - for example, if a player has a contagious illness?
RW - The players are all essentially the same as you and I in terms of what we can do. A lot of what we do is about prevention, both in terms of sports injuries and illness. It's about preventing small problems from becoming big problems and making sure they are treated appropriately. Sometimes we have to quarantine people if necessary and we have a lot of hygiene protocols to prevent illness being passed from one person to another. Most of this happens during the winter months, as you might expect.
When you or I get ill, we can take anything from a pharmacy to help us to get better, but do players have to be mindful of what they put into their bodies due to restrictions on controlled substances?
RW - By law, it is the players' responsibility for anything that enters their bodies. I view my role as to guide and advise them so I get a lot of texts and calls from them asking if they can take this, that or the other medication. I ask them why they want to take it and decide if it is appropriate. It can be a bit of a worry, especially with supplements. About ten per cent of supplements are thought to have banned substances in them, not necessarily because they are unhealthy, but because they are on the banned list, so we have to be careful.
Finally, you have done a lot of research into the cause of sudden cardiac events in football - a topic that has become widely documented and debated since the collapse of Fabrice Muamba on the pitch in March 2012. What can you tell us about that research?
RW - I have various interests academically. On the sports performance and sports injury side I have done work looking at bone turnover in players and a lot of work with the disability squads looking at various types of mobility aids. I did a review paper recently in response to what happened to Fabrice Muamba and various other recent horrible incidents looking at the evidence and what we do and don't know and what we need to do to try to reduce the risks of these things happening again. It is absolutely tragic whenever anything like that happens. There are lots of tests that we do and those tests are getting better and better as we learn more about sudden cardiac events. Unfortunately, at the moment, there are still about 30 per cent of these incidents that remain unexplained. These are very fit and very healthy individuals. Over time, I would hope to see that figure improve drastically. It is very sad that we're not quite there yet. Screening has its limitations and when you work in medicine you realise that there are very few tests that are 100 per cent specific. It's an interesting topic and a developing area of interest.