Sports Medicine Given New Prescription: Team Work

By Greenlee, Craig T. | Black Issues in Higher Education, November 28, 1996 | Go to article overview

Sports Medicine Given New Prescription: Team Work


Greenlee, Craig T., Black Issues in Higher Education


Sports medicine used to be the sole responsibility

of athletic trainers and team doctors, whose only

emphasis was treating injured athletes. While

treating injuries is still a major focus, the field of

sports medicine has grown to include a host of

medical specialists who work collectively to

provide total care for the athlete.

In addition to the physicians and trainers,

nutritionists, physiologists, physical therapists

and psychologists are now an integral part of the

team approach in sports medicine. And all careers

in sports medicine require a college or

post-graduate degree of some kind.

Degrees in sports medicine are not as hard to

come by as they were ten to fifteen years ago.

There are at least 130 colleges in the United States

and Canada that offer four-year degrees in sports

medicine. With so many options available, choosing

a career path in sports medicine may not be so clear

cut.

"You have to remember that there are a lot of

levels of participation," says Dr. Letha Y. "Etty"

Griffin, an Atlanta orthopaedic surgeon. "A lot

depends on what aspect of sports medicine you

want to get involved in. And you have to ask

yourself how much time and how much money

you want to spend getting the education you

need for what you want to do."

Career opportunities for women and

minorities are numerous, says Dr. Griffin, who

also serves as team physician for Georgia State

University and Agnes Scott College.

"There are more women and minority trainers

and physicians than five years ago," she

explains. "And now that more people are

getting into fitness and recreational sports, the

demand for trainers and physiologists has

increased. "

The boom in recreational sports and physical

fitness has broadened the horizon of sports

medicine beyond high school, college and

professional athletics. Sports-medicine clinics,

fitness centers and health clubs have helped

increase the demand for physicians, trainers,

physiologists and other specialists.

Doctors are aware of the demand. Currently,

there are approximately 3,800 physicians who

belong to the American College of Sports

Medicine -- a 50 percent increase over the last

decade. Approximately 1,100 of the top

orthopaedic surgeons in the country are certified

by the American Board of Orthopaedic

Surgery -- and most of those belong to the American

Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

With all the requirements for specialized

training in this field, coaches cannot be overlooked

as part of the sports medicine team. Many coaches

have advanced degrees and are knowledgeable

about first aid and injury prevention.

Lois Daigneault uses her background as a

sports medicine major to enhance her coaching

skills. Daigneault, who coached Canadian and

Macedonian swimmers at the 1996 Summer

Olympics in Atlanta, is excited about the results

she's seen in the swimmers she's trained.

During training sessions, Daigneault films

swimmers both above water and under water,

paying close attention to the biomechanics of

their swim strokes and helping them correct

flawed techniques.

She has also devised a weight training

program that strengthens swimmers and helps

keep them free of injury.

"It's like preventive maintenance," says

Daigneault. "The weight program really gets

the job done. Knock on wood, I haven't had

an athlete with an injury yet."

The overall outlook for career

opportunities in sports medicine continues to

be promising, says Dr. …

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