Introduction to Sports-related Health Care
We would all like to thank Dr. Richard C. Schafer, DC, PhD, FICC for his lifetime commitment to the profession. In the future we will continue to add materials from RC’s copyrighted books for your use.
This is Chapter 1 from RC’s best-selling book:
Second Edition ~ Wiliams & Wilkins
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Chapter 1: Introduction to Sports-related Health Care
If you were to ask the average coach about the responsibilities of an athlete, he would most likely reply that he or she was to conduct one’s self to the credit of the team, play fair, obey the officials, keep in training, be a credit to the sport, follow the rules, and enjoy the game: win or lose. This is the rhetoric commonly spooned to the naively inclined. If it were true, fewer sports injuries would be suffered.
With rare exception, even the Little Leaguer is commonly taught to WIN, drilled to disguise foul play from the eyes of the referees and umpires. Even in so-called noncontact sports, emphasis is often placed on getting the other team’s stars out of the game without causing injury to your own team. While conditioning is emphasized, the motivation is frequently on the preservation of a potential winning season rather than on prevention of a personal injury to a human being.
These words are harsh, but realistic. Yet, doctors handling athletic injuries must have a realistic appraisal of sports today if they are in good conscience to properly evaluate disability and offer professional counsel.
The Art of Evaluation
All people participating in vigorous sports should have a complete examination at the beginning of the season; and re-evaluation is often necessary at seasonal intervals. Re-evaluation is always necessary with cases where the candidate has suffered a severe injury, illness, or had surgery.
Evaluation begins with questioning. Because of drilled routine, any doctor is well schooled in the taking of a proper case history. But with an athletic injury, both obvious and subtle questions often appear. How extensive was the preseason conditioning? How much time for warm up is allowed before each game or event? What precautions are taken for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, concussion, and so forth? Does the coach make substitution immediately upon the first sign of disability for proper evaluation? How adequate is the protective gear? How many others on the team have suffered this particular injury this season?
Who, what, when, where, how, and WHY? These are the questions which must be answered before any positive course of health care can be extended. A detailed history of past illness and injury is vital. In organized sports, an outline of the regimen of training should be a part of the history, as well as a record of performance. Most sports will require a detailed locomotor evaluation of the player. Special care must be made in evaluating the preadolescent competitor because of the wide range of height, weight, conditioning, and stages of maturation. A defect may bar a candidate from one sport but not another, or it may be only a deterrent until it is corrected or compensated. Many famous athletes have become great in spite of a severe handicap.
The Physician’s Responsibilities (more…)