Adults, children, men, and women — most Americans love sports. Whether it’s watching their children play T-ball or throwing an epic Super Bowl party, sports bring people together. One thing no one likes to see is sports injuries. From concussions and broken bones to dislocations and sprains, athletes of all ages and abilities run the risk of getting hurt on the field of court. While most sports require protective gear, injuries are unavoidable. In fact, 3.5 million sports related injuries impact children and teen athletes every year. Professional football players are seven times more likely to get injured than other athletes. Doctors and professionals in the sports medicine field are trained in keeping athletes safe. But their job is much more than just running onto the field and squirting a sports drink into the athlete’s mouth. Keep reading to find out the importance of sports medicine, what it is, and how it helps save lives and careers.
What is Sports Medicine?
Sports medicine itself isn’t a specialty. Instead, sports medicine doctors are actually trained in other forms of healthcare including:
- Family medicine
- Internal medicine
- Emergency medicine
Doctors then take this education and build on it to become trained and skilled to treat athletes, specifically. Check out this website for one doctor’s inspirational journey to sports medicine. Under the umbrella of sports medicine, some doctors choose to specialize in children, teens, adults, or professional athletes. Doctors who treat children are usually required to have a degree in pediatrics or family medicine as well. Some sports medicine doctors even go as far as to become board certified orthopedic surgeons. This enables them to treat their patients directly when surgery is the only option.
What do Sports Medicine Doctors Do?
Sports medicine doctors are most widely known for treating injuries endured by athletes. But treatment of current injuries isn’t their only job. These doctors also help prevent injury by working with both athletes and individuals with physically demanding jobs. For those who lift heavy objects, stand on their feet or sit for hours a day, and overexert their bodies, working with a sports medicine doctor means preventing the next debilitating injury.
For those who seek out the help of these medical professionals after experiencing an injury, they’ll receive several types of care. Doctors focus on helping you regain mobility after an injury through physical therapy. If surgery is required, your doctor will also discuss the risk and recovery factors associated with such an operation. Doctors work to restore function to the injured body part and help you return to daily life. Most athletes are required to make small adjustments to their workout and activity routines as to not reinjure or aggravate the area. If you’re just starting a rigorous workout routine, taking on a strenuous job, or joining a new sports team, a sports medicine doctor can evaluate your physical condition and advice you on staying healthy and safe.
In most cases, a sports medicine doctor will work in conjunction with other professionals. This provides patients with the most comprehensive care. Here are a few other doctors you might see during your treatment and recovery.
It’s no surprise that most sports injuries require physical therapy. After all, the way in which you use your body and move has been compromised. Many times injured athletes favor one side of the body as they subconsciously move in a way that doesn’t disrupt or aggravate their injury. This “favoring” can negatively impact other parts of your body. Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process. Here, you’ll exercise, work, and stretch the injured area. Physical therapists are trained in having you “push” yourself within safe and reasonable boundaries. Your sports medicine doctor may even provide you with at- home exercises you can perform in the comfort of your home. Just be sure to move slowly and follow the doctor’s instructions. Doing too much too soon (it the hopes of a faster recovery) will most likely set you back, instead.
Most athletic teams, both professional and amateur, have a certified athletic trainer on staff. It’s this person’s job to monitor athlete’s exercise routines, workout regimes, and overall performance on and off the field or court. Athletic trainers (ATs) are skilled and trained in a multitude of areas including emergency care, clinical diagnosis, rehabilitation, preventative care, and therapeutic intervention. When an athlete is injured, it’s the AT’s job to determine the severity of the injury and perform a diagnosis. This is often done in collaboration with a sports medicine doctor.
It’s no secret that what you fuel your body with plays a huge role in athletic performance. That’s why many sports medicine doctors work closely with nutritionists. Following an injury, nutrition is even more important. Not just because the right foods will help strengthen patients, give them increased energy, and help repair cells, but weight gain and loss also plays a part. Many patients who are immobile for long periods of time tend to put on weight. This makes it even more difficult to recover from injuries, especially those that include weight bearing body parts like the knee, ankle, or back. In some cases, patients may need to put on weight to help bulk-up or increase strength and muscle mass. A nutritionist supports the healing and recovery process.
Common Sports Injuries
While anything can happen on the field or court, there are some sports injuries that are more common than others. Here are a few conditions sports medicine doctors face regularly.
- ACL tear
- Shin splints
- Torn rotator cuff
- Groin pull
- Ankle sprain
- Hamstring pull
- Tennis elbow
Athletes experiencing these types of injuries will be evaluated by a doctor or athletic trainer before choosing a treatment plan.
Sports medicine doctors are responsible for the safety, health, and longevity of some of America’s most beloved athletes. But they’re also trained in helping up and coming athletes stay healthy and injury-free. With the right training staff, recovery time, and treatment plan, athletes can completely recover and return to what they love to do!
Article Submitted By Community Writer