Ames Gross, President and Founder, Pacific Bridge Medical
Ameing for Asia

Sports Medicine in Asia 2017

By Ames Gross
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Ames Gross, President and Founder, Pacific Bridge Medical

Global sports medicine is predicted to grow to around $35 billion by 2022, with the Asian market growing at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 7 percent.

Introduction

Sports medicine is the treatment of injuries or health problems related to exercise, sports, or any other health activity. Asia accounts for approximately 15 percent of the global sports medicine market, which was worth a total of $20 billion in 2015. Global sports medicine is predicted to grow to around $35 billion by 2022, with the Asian market growing at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 7 percent. The recent focus on health and fitness has influenced more people to participate in sports and physical activities and as a result, there are more cases of related injuries. As Asia becomes wealthier and more health conscious, the sports medicine industry in Asia is poised to grow rapidly.

Sports Medicine Industry

The sports medicine industry encompasses areas such as physical therapy, analytics of athlete body conditions and training, joint repair, treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, and more. Fifteen years ago, mostly semi-professional or professional athletic patients sought sports medicine treatments. However, over the last 5 to 10 years, an increasing number of individuals of all ages participate in sports, healthy exercise, and rehabilitation that need sports medicine treatments. In Asia, hip and knee treatments make up roughly 50 percent of the sports medicine market. Arthroscopy and orthobiologics make up a substantial part of treatments in sports medicine and are growing in popularity. Arthroscopy is notable for its minimally invasive procedures, while orthobiologics assist the body to heal itself.

Growth of Sports in Asia

The sports medicine market in Asia is growing, mostly due to the growth of sports in Asia. Successful sporting events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics have increased the level of interest in sports in Asia. The upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea and 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan promise further growth of the sports industry. India has also seen an increase in the level of interest in sports. In the past ten years, India has started its own cricket league, soccer league, hockey league, badminton league and more. Moreover, Asian government initiatives to promote fitness and sports, rising consumer spending, and the increase in exercise for health reasons, all contribute to the expansion of sports in Asia.

Western Sports Medicine Companies in Asia

Below are some examples of sports medicine companies already in Asia.

Catapult Sports, based in Melbourne, Australia, is a leading athletic analytics company that sells primarily to professional sports teams. Catapult Sports is making a wearable device that tracks an athlete’s movement, heart rate, speed, and energy exertion. The company has expanded into Japan, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Korea, India, Thailand, and Malaysia. Their Asian clients include the Japan Men’s Rowing team, Singapore Men’s Football, Chinese Men’s Football, and the Korean Olympics Committee.

Arthrex, a medical device company specializing in joint treatments located in Naples, Florida, currently has offices in China, Singapore, Japan, and Korea. Arthex pioneered the field of arthroscopy and has developed more than 10,000 products and surgical procedures since its founding in the early 1980s. Arthroscopy has revolutionized sports medicine, and Arthrex has been a leader in this field.

Mueller Sports Medicine, based in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, manufactures sports braces and has distributor agreements in China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Mueller Sports Medicine also has a manufacturing facility in Japan, which provides the company with a regional presence and facilitates sales and distribution throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Their products include foot care products, abrasion control wear, joint support braces, athletic trainer kits, etc.

Xsens (Enschede, Netherlands) is a leading innovator in 3D motion. The company specializes in human motion measurements and sensor modules used in biomechanical analysis, rehabilitation, and sports performance science. Xsens has successfully entered several Asian markets via its distributors in China, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Organizations Promoting Sports Medicine in Asia

In 2016, MEDICA Medicine + Sports Conference, one of the world’s largest sports medicine conferences, was held in Asia for the very first time in Singapore, indicating Asia’s growing importance in the sports medicine industry. In recent years, several sports medicine-focused organizations have been founded in Asia. The Hong Kong based Asia-Pacific Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (APOSSM) evolved into the Asia-Pacific Knee, Arthroscopy, and Sports Medicine Society (APKASS) in 2012 in response to the recent increase of arthroscopy and knee procedures in sports medicine. The Indonesian Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy (IOSSMA) was established in 2012 as a result of an increasing need for standards in sports injuries treatment. In addition, the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine received approval as a scientific research medical journal in 2011, which aims to increase knowledge and stimulate research in Asia’s sports medicine industry.

Sports Medicine in Korea

With special practice and training facilities for professional athletes like the Taereung Training Center, Korea is dedicated to athletics and has a strong sports culture. The Korea Institute of Sports Science (KISS) has experts in areas such as psychology, biomechanics, and sport dynamics to work with athletes to improve their performance. In response to rising demand for high-quality sports medicine treatments in Korea, Sky Hospital, a hospital dedicated solely to sports medicine, was founded in 2002. Koreans, including senior citizens, enjoy activities such as hiking and tennis. As a result, hip and shoulder-related injuries are common. Foreign sports medicine companies with high-end sports medical devices should consider expanding to Korea.

Sports Medicine in China

In 2016, China’s State Council estimated that China’s sports industry will exceed $810 billion by 2025. China’s influence on the global sports business is growing, and sponsors from around the world are noticing the opportunities available. A government initiative to improve health in China, the National Fitness Plan, aims to improve national fitness levels and increase sports participation by providing easy access to more than 5,000 new fitness and sports facilities for all citizens by 2020. Contact sports such as basketball and American football are also rising in popularity and will lead to an increase in injuries.

Sports Medicine in Japan

The sports medicine industry in Japan is growing too. Japan, which has many of the basic sports medicine products, has also become a global leader in advanced cellular therapy. Japan currently accounts for the largest share of the orthobiologics market in Asia. In 2015, Professor Ochi from Hiroshima University Hospital created a surgical technique utilizing magnets and the patient’s own cartilage cells to heal damaged cartilage. This technique is only applicable to younger patients, but Japan’s extensive research capabilities promise further innovation. Generally, Japanese doctors prefer domestically made products for reasons such as easier business relations and better designs for the Japanese body, but foreign sports medicine companies have succeeded in Japan too.

Sports Medicine in India

The Indian sports medicine market is expected to reach approximately $700 million by 2024. New establishments such as the Cricket Indian Premier League, Pro Kabaddi League, Indian Super League for soccer, and the Hockey India League have grown the sports industry and its related businesses. With the rising popularity of sports, the number of sports injuries requiring medical treatment is expected to increase quickly.

Conclusion

The Asian sports medicine market is growing quickly due to the growth in sports and rising interest in exercise for health. Western sports medicine companies looking to expand into Asia should first look at the developed Asian markets like Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea before considering the less developed Asian nations. However, China, a developing country, is rapidly growing its sports industry and sports medicine business too.

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