Anecdotes of sports medicine - Oded Bar-Or

In November 1988, I had the great honor to organize a meeting of the North-West European Chapter of the Fédération Internationale de Médecine du Sport-FIMS in parallel with the seventh Limburg Congress for Sports Medicine. Many prominent speakers from different parts of the world came over to discuss the latest insights on sports medicine.

One of them was Oded Bar-Or (1937-2005), a pioneer in Pediatric Exercise Medicine, who dealt with the subject of 'Pediatric Sports Medicine-Current issues and future directions'.

In 1965, Bar-Or graduated from the Hadassah medical school in Jerusalem and then made a postdoctoral work in the famous laboratory for Human Performance Research at Penn State University in the United States. His milestone research into the work capacity of Toronto schoolchildren, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1969, led to the first determinations of cardiac output when training children.

In 1981, McMaster University of Canada offered him a chair. He became the founder and director of the Children's Exercise and Nutrition Center at the Chedoke Hospital. He was a visionary when he turned his attention to obese children, because few people shared his concerns about the emerging epidemic. He developed a multidisciplinary team of researchers who made and delivered individual nutrition and exercise programs for children. He also led many research projects into obesity in childhood and how to combat its growing prevalence.

Professor Bar-Or received a large number of special honors, including honorary doctorates from the Jozef Pilsudski Academy of Physical Education in Warsaw, Poland and Brock University in St. Catharines; the 2005 Honor Award from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology; the Thomas E. Shaffer Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and his name remains attached to the Oded Bar-Or Award presented annually by the AAP.

His research led to 176 peer-reviewed journal publications, 36 chapters in books; hundreds of published abstracts and procedures, ten self-written books and almost two hundred presentations by invitation. Articles include: physiological and medical aspects of children's reaction to physical activity and physical inactivity, thermal regulation and the child's tolerance for physical activity at high and low ambient temperatures, in health and disease; fluid and electrolyte supplementation in the sports child and supramaximal muscle strength in health and disease.

In 1983 he published Pediatric Sports Medicine for the Practitioner, the first textbook of its kind entirely devoted to pediatric sports medicine and exercise physiology. He developed 'The Wingate Anaerobic Test', which became one of the most widely used tests of anaerobic power in laboratories for exercise physiology worldwide.

But most of all he was a very amiable man, who in 2005 lost the courageous battle against cancer.