Monday, July 27, 2015

What is Sports Medicine?

By: Mark E. Halstead, MD
Washington University Orthopedics

Often times I am asked what exactly a sports medicine provider does. Generally it is assumed that I do surgery and that I just watch a bunch of sports events and help provide care for those athletes. Some of that may be true but it is far from what sports medicine really is about. Someone can be involved with sports medicine as a doctor, athletic trainer, physical therapist, nutritionist, psychologist, and chiropractor, just to name a few specialties. I chose to be a sports medicine doctor who does not do surgery. Typically that is referred to as a primary care sports medicine doctor. Primary care sports medicine doctors go to college, then medical school and then do a residency in family medicine, emergency medicine, internal medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, or my choice, pediatrics. A sports medicine doctor can also be a surgeon, typically an orthopedic surgeon who deals with bone, joint, ligament and muscle injuries. Some general surgeons can be sports medicine doctors as well. There are also sports medicine doctors who specialize in problems athletes can have with their heart (cardiologist), lungs (pulmonologist), nerves/brain (neurologist), or eyes (ophthalmologist).

As a primary care sports medicine doctor, I can find out what problem an athlete may have with their bones, joints, muscles or ligaments like a surgeon does, but if they need surgery I send them to someone who does surgery. But I have the added benefit of having special training in sports problems that aren’t related to just the bones and joints. One of the things that I deal with a lot is a sports concussion. We will be sure to cover that topic a lot in future blog posts.

Over the years, I’ve had the ability to provide medical care to a lot of different types of athletes including athletes on the St. Louis Rams, St. Louis Blues, St. Louis Cardinals, US Women’s Figure Skating Team, and many college athletes including those from Washington University, Vanderbilt University, University of Wisconsin, University of Missouri, St Louis University and many others. I’ve been to a ton of high school football games and other sporting events and am proud to say I’ve been the team physician for Lafayette High School since 2007.

At the Young Athlete Center, we have a lot of specialists in sports medicine who are available to make sure we provide the best care to keep all the athletes we see healthy and get them back their sport as soon and safely as possible.

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