The World of Sports Medicine

By Emeagwali, N. Susan | Techniques, May 2008 | Go to article overview
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The World of Sports Medicine


Emeagwali, N. Susan, Techniques


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In just months from now the best athletes in the world will face each other at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Many of them will sustain injuries, or seek to prevent them, and will be thankful that among their entourages are some of the best sports medicine professionals in the world. When an athlete collapses from fatigue, or something else, there'll be a group taking him or her off the field; that group may include a doctor, an orthopedist, or a nurse. And backstage as athletes rev up for their moment of glory, they'll be relying heavily on physiologists, physical therapists, athletic trainers and nutritionists to keep them in top form. But what is sports medicine? Sports medicine specializes in diagnosing, treating and preventing injuries that are sports or exercise related. The term "sports medicine" was first coined in 1928 at the Olympics in St Moritz, notes Wikipedia, when a committee came together to plan the First Congress of Sports Medicine. Specialization includes medical physician, physiology, physical therapy, orthopedics, sports nutrition and biomechanics. But since injuries can be caused by a number of factors, sports medicine can include various specialties, including cardiology, ophthalmology, surgery, pulmonology, traumatology or rehabilitative medicine.

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High School Programs

The name of a sports medicine program and its curriculum varies among high schools and across colleges and universities. But high schools around the country are giving students the education, training and hands-on learning opportunities they need to explore careers in sports medicine. This may ultimately lead them to pursue careers in the field by earning the necessary credentials at the postsecondary level.

At White Knoll High School in Lexington, South Carolina, a health science cluster gives students the opportunity to explore a wide range of potential career paths. One of them is the Sports Medicine Program which offers students an integrated curriculum, technology integration, career exploration, job shadowing, internships and hands-on learning. The class teaches students about the prevention of athletic injuries, including the components of exercise science, anatomy, principles of safety, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and vital signs.

Students learn about legal issues, nutrition, protective sports equipment, taping and wrapping, mechanisms of injury, environmental safety issues, and the application of other sports medicine concepts. The program's technical skills content is determined by a committee comprised of teachers, practicing professionals, and program directors at colleges and universities. It is revised every three to five years and advisory hoards meet often to discuss changes in the field.

An integral part of ascertaining that students get the best instruction is by giving teachers the professional development they need in the content area. Teachers are professionally credentialed and actively work in the field so they know the importance of keeping the curriculum content relevant. The program is very hands-on with students running the school's athletic training room under the supervision of athletic trainers. Students spend time in the classroom engaging in career exploration ranging from athletic trainer/therapist to orthopedic surgery; participate in project-based learning from marketing the program itself to purchasing supplies to keeping medical records; and learn basic skills.

Postsecondary Programs

For each profession in sports medicine the educational requirements vary.

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