Asif serves as team physician for USA Wheelchair Rugby team ahead of Paralympic Games

Irfan Asif, M.D., has been working with the team since last year, helping them safely train and remain in peak physical shape during the COVID-19 pandemic.

wheelchair rugbyIrfan Asif, M.D.Irfan Asif, M.D., a family and sports medicine physician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is serving as the team physician for the USA Wheelchair Rugby team. The team, which is currently ranked as the second-best team in the world, will compete in the 2021 summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo.  

Asif, chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UAB, has been working with the team since last year to make sure the athletes are in good health as they prepare for the summer games. Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, he plans to integrate work with the team into the department’s sports medicine fellowship to allow fellows to learn how to care for the unique needs of Paralympic athletes.  

“Paralympic and adaptive athletes are an underserved group of individuals who often do not get the medical care they need and deserve,” Asif said. “I hope to train future generations of physicians to be better prepared to treat unique patient groups while offering the USAWR team the opportunity for cutting-edge science that supports them as they excel in their sport.”

The team is currently training at the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham; but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were unable to train in person for several months. During that time, Asif worked with the team’s trainer to develop training and conditioning plans for the players to ensure they remained healthy and in shape.

“Asif has been a godsend to the program,” said Jim Murdock, certified athletic trainer and medical coordinator for the team. “It has been awesome to have access to UAB physicians and resources as our team trains in Birmingham. We are one of the first Paralympic teams to have this type of relationship with a major university hospital, and through their support, we were able to safely practice despite the pandemic. I know that will give us an advantage as we go to Tokyo.” 

The USAWR team will travel to Tokyo in late August to compete on behalf of the United States.