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Primary Care Sports Medicine

The field of medicine is vast and constantly changing. As new science and technology evolves, so too does the practice of medicine and the advancement of its subspecialties. One such advancement is the development of the field of sports medicine. Traditionally sports medicine has dealt with musculoskeletal injuries sustained by the athlete and thus has classically been a responsibility assumed by the orthopedic surgeon. However, as the influence of sports and athletics rapidly expanded within our culture it became clear that medical care for the athlete meant more than just orthopedic care for the professional or elite athlete. It also meant care for people who participated in recreational athletics or simply used exercise to stay healthy and active.

From our children in little league, to our middle-aged weekend warriors, to our elderly who start an exercise program for its health benefits, the field of sports medicine influences millions of people. So in the 1980’s the primary care fields of family medicine, pediatrics and others realized that physicians would need special training in order to care for these athletes. That meant not only a keen knowledge of musculoskeletal injuries, but also an understanding of how athletics could affect any aspect of the human body from cardiovascular and respiratory to dermatological and immunologic. Thus, the field of primary care sports medicine was born.

Primary care sports medicine physicians are leaders in the field of sports medicine. They are involved in research and education and also have a tremendous amount of hands-on experience. Either through advanced fellowship training or through years of clinical experience, primary care sports medicine physicians have learned the skills to take care of athletes of all ages, sports and levels of competition. Some of them serve as team physicians to professional sports teams or are personal physicians to elite level athletes. However, they all have experience in taking care of the collegiate or high school athlete and have a broad knowledge of most sports from team sports to extreme sports. Many sports medicine physicians also are or were athletes themselves and therefore have firsthand experience in how injuries and illnesses specifically affect athletes.

Your SCOI primary care sports medicine physician specializes in all aspects of medicine as it relates to the athlete and sports participation. The emphasis of this care is musculoskeletal and orthopedic injuries. Whether an acute injury or a chronic or overuse injury, the primary care sports medicine physician has the expertise to evaluate the injury and develop a plan of care. Although your physician has a significant depth of knowledge and experience with surgical treatments, the approach of the primary care sports medicine physician is a non-surgical one. With an emphasis on rehabilitation modalities and techniques and the use of casting, bracing or injections as needed, the goal is to return the athlete to his or her previous level of activity and to know when surgery is necessary to achieve that goal. Your SCOI primary care sports medicine physician works closely with SCOI surgeons, therapists, athletic trainers and other specialists to guarantee the timely and appropriate management of your injury. With a special knowledge of return to play issues, your physician will also know when and how it is safe to return to your sport or activity.

In addition to injury care, your SCOI primary care sports medicine physician cares for all illnesses and medical conditions related to sports. Whether it’s the concussion from the football game or the asthma related to running, your primary care sports medicine physician will know how to help. Even if you are a healthy athlete and are simply looking for ways to improve your performance, your primary care sports medicine physician is knowledgeable in sports nutrition and dietary supplementation and can help maximize your aerobic and strength conditioning to optimize your performance.

Finally, your SCOI primary care sports medicine physician can also provide a pre-participation physical examination. Whether you need clearance for high school or collegiate sports or if you simply want an evaluation prior to beginning an exercise program, our pre-participation examinations will not only make sure that your health is optimized for sports, but will begin a treatment plan for any pre-existing or newly discovered conditions which may interfere with your sports participation.

So whether you have an injury or you simply want to maximize your athletic performance, chances are that your SCOI primary care sports medicine physician has something to help optimize your sports participation. Even if you are not a professional athlete, at SCOI you deserve to be treated like one.

- Andrew M. Blecher, MD