Understanding sports injuries is important since more adults, teens and children participate in sports than ever before. Consequently there has been a corresponding increase in injuries causing many physicians to now show greater interest in the field of sports medicine. Probably they view the opportunity to treat essentially healthy well-motivated individuals with sports injuries as a refreshing change from treating patients with significant medical problems.
While that may be the case, in my opinion a physician alone cannot meet all the needs of the injured athlete. Rather, sports medicine requires a multidisciplinary approach to treating individuals with injuries due to recreational sports. When an athlete suffers an injury, a physician will make a diagnosis with a physical exam and possibly some tests. However, that is just the beginning. While a diagnosis provides some answers, the following are some questions a physician may not be prepared to answer.
1. What caused the injury?
2. What is the best course of rehabilitation?
3. Should the injured athlete continue to exercise or modify their routine?
4. Will diet enhance the injured athlete’s healing process? Is weight a factor?
5. What tests may ensure the injured athlete’s safe return to sports?
6. What are the chances of re-injury?
Understanding Sports Injuries – Treating This Condition
Consequently, I believe that only a team of sports medicine specialists that includes a physician, the injured athlete, and a physical therapist/athletic trainer (sometimes in cooperation with a coach) can answer these questions.
The primary role of the physical therapist/athletic trainer is to rehabilitate the athlete’s injury. In addition, the physical therapist/athletic trainer can administer functional tests and drills that pertain to the injured athlete’s sport. Such tests help determine whether the injured athlete has regained both the strength and mobility required to return to their sport. Furthermore, the athletic trainer can evaluate the injured athlete’s conditioning program and sports biomechanics. As a result of this multidisciplinary approach, the team of sports medicine specialists can determine what caused the athlete’s injury, when the injured athlete may return to their sport and how to minimize the possibility of re-injury.
Thomas Suspenski, PT, ATC
797 E Lancaster Ave. Suite 2
Please refer to patient education for other brief articles in our educational series. It is through these articles, in part, that we keep our patients (and others) informed of common injuries and conditions, their treatment and healthcare in general.