Singapore's leading sports medicine centre is set for its biggest expansion yet - one that will double its floor area and add doctors.
By 2016, Changi Sports Medicine Centre (CSMC) will have more spacious gyms, an indoor pool and an indoor track, housed within two storeys at Changi General Hospital (CGH). It will cover an estimated 1,500 sq m - the size of 13 five-room HDB flats - making it the biggest such centre.
It now covers 752 sq m within one storey at the public hospital.
The move will cater to CSMC's fast-growing patient load, which hit an all-time high of 14,044 last year, up from 8,416 in 2008.
The hospital's chief operating officer, Mr Peter Tay, told The Straits Times: "With demand expected to grow even more, CSMC must continue to be in the best position to meet these needs."
Other planned features include a hydrotherapy pool on the second level. Also, parts of the ceiling will be much higher to accommodate larger equipment, such as a pilates trapeze table, which is more than 2m in height. More specialised exercise and testing equipment will be included as well.
A track used for exercise that now lies outside the building will be housed indoors after the revamp, which CSMC head Benedict Tan described as bringing all things related to sports medicine "truly under one roof".
These developments were revealed in line with CSMC's 10th anniversary last Friday.
Already, demand for sports medicine is outpacing availability. A key reason is that more people are taking up sports for leisure, noted Dr Tan.
Singapore is seeing more running and cycling events. Three in five Singaporeans engage in moderate to high levels of physical activity, according to the National Health Survey done in 2010.
Also, the emphasis on "active ageing" has prompted older folk to take up recreational forms of exercise such as yoga.
When sports injuries such as sprains occur, that is where sports doctors come in. They also work with patients suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes who need to lose weight.
Said Dr Tan: "Anyone who exercises - that's how big our market is. I don't think we can ever catch up with the demand."
Sports medicine has come a long way here. A decade ago, Singapore had only about six practising sports physicians. The field was recognised as a sub-speciality in 2011 and now there are 23 sports medicine specialists.
CSMC has 17 sports medicine doctors. It plans to add another seven, said Dr Tan. They include four resident physicians - doctors without a specialist background - being trained by CSMC. Usually, sports medicine practitioners have to seek training abroad.
One of the home-grown physicians is Dr Ng Chung Sien, who switched from family medicine to sports medicine. He hopes the expansion can shorten waiting times for patients. They now wait about two weeks for an appointment to see a sports doctor.
"With the expansion and more staff, we can absorb a larger patient load, so waiting times could improve," said Dr Tan.
Long-time patient Chan Lee Lynn, 56, looks forward to having more room to exercise in. The retiree regained her ability to walk after seeking help at CSMC 10 years ago. Before, heel pain had kept her on crutches for almost a year.
Said Mrs Chan, who still visits the centre regularly: "Everything is well run, and they already have a great team. The main worry is whether the upgrade means prices will also 'upgrade'. Many regular people can gain from sports medicine, but it has to be affordable."