Public Health and Sports Medicine

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San Diego at night

I am in the Columbus airport on my way to San Diego for the AMSSM Meeting and I’m excited. OK, truth:  I’m on the ground in Columbus and ‘weather’ is preventing our flight taking off to Chicago, where I will, in theory, get my connecting flight to San Diego. And that’s not too exciting.

But, the meeting:  the research abstracts to be presented at the meeting look great, and I’ll be blogging about the event more in the next several days (if I make it there………)

My mind is still thinking of the events that occurred at the Boston Marathon three days ago, and I am looking forward to the London Marathon this weekend, which I hope goes off without a hitch.  I continue to read stories of the heroism of the Boston medical community, from the professionals in the finish line medical tent to the nearby hospitals, where the trauma was nearly overwhelming.  And I have read sobering stories, from the litany of terrorist events that have impacted sport to the analyses that suggest planning for marathons, the ‘most democratic of sporting events,’ may be irrevocably changed.

Many of us in sports medicine are involved in on-site game coverage, including the coverage of mass events, and the roles we play in these venues are, indisputably, exceedingly important.  For some of us, this is our core professional mission.  For me, it is a secondary role.  Most of my days and evenings are spent in clinic, seeing patients referred to me, or teaching students and trainees, or in pursuing medical research.  Nights and weekends will then find me at times covering a basketball or American football game at Bexley High School or Ohio Dominican University.  Over the years I have found myself covering mass events in the medical tents at the Big Sur Marathon, San Jose Half Marathon, the Big Kahuna Triathlon, local wrestling tournaments, and the Boston Marathon.

The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine has published articles in the recent past on mass event coverage and prevention of illness in athletes, and I commend them to you for your consideration.

I am completing additional training in public health, and will be receiving my Masters in Public Health in two weeks.  Through this lens, I have come to see the work we do in event coverage as primarily one of public health.  As physicians, physiotherapists, athletic trainers, and other sports medicine professionals, I think we continue to see ourselves as clinicians, and rarely consider ourselves as public health practitioners.  But in event coverage, especially when we are involved in the planning and organizing stages, we are most definitely public health practitioners:  our ultimate goal is to use principles of primary and secondary prevention to minimize injury to athletes and spectators.

I am increasingly interested in the intersection between Public Health and Sports Medicine, and I see the unfortunate events of this week as reinforcing the need to deepen this relationship.  I hope to blog more about this intersection, this relationship, over the coming months. I hope, too, that readers of this blog can engage with me in conversation about these issues.

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About sportingjim
I work at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio USA, where I am a specialist in pediatric sports medicine. My academic appointment as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics is through Ohio State University. I am a public health advocate for kids' health and safety. I am also the Emerging Media Editor for the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

5 Responses to Public Health and Sports Medicine

  1. sportingjim says:

    Interesting article on how experience on the battlefield informed an evidence-based approach to dealing with the trauma seen at the Boston Marathon: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/04/how-war-terror-helped-boston-keep-its-death-toll-down

    • David Wasserstein says:

      Congratulations to you on your journey. I too am a believer that public health and sports medicine are a strong academic and real-world marriage. Population and individual health issues in our field are not as disparate as many would believe.

      I am a sports Orthopod in Canada and also doing an MPH degree (albeit a few years behind you).

      Best of luck and I enjoyed your blog!

      • sportingjim says:

        david
        are you going to CASEM in whistler?
        i’m not….but am hoping to catch CASEM next year.
        good luck with your journey, hope our paths cross.
        jim

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