Newswise — LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Past President retired Army Col. Francis O’Connor, MD, MPH, gave the Presidential Keynote Address, at the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine this week in Orlando, Fla.

Dr. O’Connor lectured on the topic of “Human Performance Optimization – The Military’s Changing Fitness Paradigm for Total Force Fitness.” The talk addressed the challenges faced by the nation and Department of Defense of inactivity and obesity and how these issues are being addressed by the concepts of Human Performance Optimization (HPO) and Total Force Fitness.

“It was an honor to deliver the keynote address at this year’s AMSSM meeting, and specifically, to draw attention to physical activity as a national security issue and a challenge to the AMSSM membership,” Dr. O’Connor said.

Physical inactivity has become a national security problem, as one in five adults are physically inactive, and approximately 71 percent of 17-to-24 year olds in the U.S. would not qualify for military service because of reasons relating to health, physical appearance and educational background. This trend has also impacted the military, which has seen increased rates of obesity during the past several years.

O’Connor said the Department of Defense is addressing these issues through Human Performance Optimization, which is the process of applying knowledge, skills and emerging technologies to improve and preserve the capability of personnel. Total Force Fitness is also being used alongside HPO to enable military members to focus on their mission tasks. Highly skilled sports medicine teams with expertise in injury prevention, assessment diagnosis and management can assist these efforts and help improve overall health and fitness for military personnel, according to Dr. O’Connor.

“We all need to engage with our local communities to encourage physical activity in our schools to avoid this evolving national security challenge,” Dr. O’Connor said.

After more than 30 years of active military service and as professor and department chair of Military and Emergency Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) and medical director of USU’s Consortium on Health and Military Performance (CHAMP), Dr. O’Connor retired from the military in April 2017. He will continue to serve as acting department chair until his successor arrives this summer, when he will transition to CHAMP full-time. 

Dr. O’Connor has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and numerous book chapters, technical reports and health promotions for the military. He has been on the board of several leading organizations in sports medicine, including the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Medical Athletic Association and President of AMSSM from 2010-2011, as part of his 2003-2012 service on the AMSSM Board of Directors.

About the AMSSM Annual Meeting: The 2018 conference brings more than 2,000 sports medicine physicians together from throughout the United States and around the world. The meeting theme is REACH: Reaching Up, Reaching Out, Reaching Ahead and explores the many ways AMSSM is leading the charge and shaping the future of sports medicine. 

About the AMSSM: AMSSM is a multi-disciplinary organization of more than 3,600 sports medicine physicians dedicated to education, research, advocacy and the care of athletes of all ages. The majority of AMSSM members are primary care physicians with fellowship training and added qualification in sports medicine who then combine their practice of sports medicine with their primary specialty. AMSSM includes members who specialize solely in non-surgical sports medicine and serve as team physicians at the youth level, NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS and NHL, as well as with Olympic and Paralympic teams. By nature of their training and experience, sports medicine physicians are ideally suited to provide comprehensive medical care for athletes, sports teams or active individuals who are simply looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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27th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine