Sports medicine is an interdisciplinary subspecialty of medicine which deals with the treatment and preventive care of athletes, both amateur and professional. The sports medicine "team" includes specialty physicians and surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists, coaches, other personnel, and, of course, the athlete.
The origins of sports medicine lie in ancient Greece and ancient Rome where physical education was a needed aspect of youth – training and athletic contests first became a part of everyday life during these times. However, it was not until in 1928 at the Olympics in St. Moritz, when a committee came together to plan the First International Congress of Sports Medicine, that the term itself was coined. In the 5th century, however, the care of athletes was primarily the responsibility of specialists. These were trainer-coaches and were considered to be experts on diet, physical therapy, and hygiene as well as on sport-specific techniques. The first use of therapeutic exercise is credited to Herodicus, who is thought to have been one of Hippocrates' teachers. Until the 2nd century AD, when the first "team doctor", Galen, was appointed to the gladiators, the physician only became involved if there was an injury.
Whether or not there was good communication or rapport between the trainer-coaches and the team physician back then is a matter of speculation. What is clear, however, is that from its beginnings, sports medicine has been multidisciplinary, and charged with the obligation not only to treat injuries but also to help prevent them, and to instruct and prepare athletes for competition. This link with physical education has remained in place throughout its evolution.
Sports medicine has always been difficult to define because it is not a single specialty, but an area that involves health care professionals, researchers and educators from a wide variety of disciplines. Its function is not only curative and rehabilitative, but also preventative, which may actually be the most important one of all.
Despite this wide scope, there has been a tendency for many to assume that sport-related problems are by default musculoskeletal and that sports medicine is an orthopaedic specialty. There is much more to sports medicine than just musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment. Illness or injury in sport can be caused by many factors – from environmental to physiological and psychological. Consequently, sports medicine can encompass an array of specialties, including cardiology, pulmonology, orthopaedic surgery, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and traumatology. For example, heat, cold or altitude during training and competition can alter performance or may even be life threatening. The female triad of disordered eating, menstrual disturbances, and bone density problems, and the problems of pregnant or aging athletes demand knowledge from many diverse fields. In addition, the management of dermatological and endocrinological diseases and other such problems in the athlete demands both medical expertise and sport-specific knowledge.
The use of supplements, pharmacological or otherwise, and the topics of doping control and gender verification present complex moral, legal and health-related difficulties. Further unique problems are associated with international sporting events, such as the effects of travel and acclimatization, and the attempt to balance an athlete's participation with his or her health. Much of this draws on new fields of study, in which extensive clinical and basic science research is burgeoning.
The Sports Medicine specialist, either an Orthopedist or a Primary-care Sports Medicine specialist, is usually the leader of the sports medicine team, which also includes physician and surgeon specialists, physiologists, athletic trainers, physical therapists, coaches, other personnel, and, of course, the athlete.
Doctors wishing to specialize start with a primary residency program in family practice, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, or physical medicine and rehabilitation, and then generally obtain one to two years of additional training through accredited fellowship (subspecialty) programs in sports medicine. Physicians who are board certified in family practice, internal medicine, emergency medicine, or pediatrics are then eligible to take a subspecialty qualification examination in sports medicine. Additional forums, which add to the expertise of a Sports Medicine Specialist, include continuing education in sports medicine, and membership and participation in sports medicine societies.
Sports medicine has been a recognized subspecialty of the American Board of Medical Specialties since 1989. Currently there are more than 70 sports medicine fellowships and approximately one thousand certified Sports Medicine Specialists in the United States.
Information on this page has been cited from Wikipedia.
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