CJSM Podcast with Dr. William Meehan — long-term quality-of-life benefits for collegiate female athletes

Dr. William Meehan (R) and yours truly (L) in that oh so 2020 virtual space

CJSM’s November 2020 issue — the last of this unprecedented calendar year — contains many many interesting research studies.

One of the studies was the subject of our most recent blog post journal club.

I enjoyed that submission so much that I thought I would ‘ring’ the authors and see if they could join me on a podcast.

Corresponding author Dr. William (Bill) Meehan kindly set aside time from his busy schedule to share his thoughts on this study: Stracciolini A, et al. Female Sport Participation Effect on Long-Term Health-Related Quality of Life,

Dr. Meehan has been a regular at CJSM — here in the blog, on a previous CJSM podcast, and most especially in the journal itself.  He is a prolific author.

He is also a friend and trusted colleague, whom I met a long time ago when he and I both completed our sports medicine fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. God bless him, he always responds to that hook of friendship when I call him and need some collegial advice!

In this new study, he and the team of authors led by Dr. Andrea Stracciolini looked at a cohort of women in their 40’s to 70’s who have previously participated as athletes in college at NCAA DIII level institutions.

In our conversation Dr. Meehan covers a wide variety of subjects:  what are DIII institutions, what is Title IX, how does college sport participation associate with long-term QOL measures, and more. 

Check out and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes or go to the media tab on our main CJSM web page. And check out the study itself in our November 2020 issue. Any way you engage with CJSM, we’re happy to have you.

Summer Reading

What are you reading this summer?

Summer can be a time when the pace of work and life slow just a bit, affording us a chance to pick up that book we’ve had sitting on our nightstand or follow through on someone’s suggestion for a ‘must read.’

I have a vacation coming up, during which time I plan to catch up a bit on my pleasure reading. The titles in that reading list are not particularly relevant to our world of sports medicine.  However, I did find the time this past week to read a book I have been ‘meaning to’ for a while, and it’s one I would certainly recommend to all my colleagues in the world of sports medicine.

It is:  “What Made Maddy Run”

I found myself engaging with this book on so many levels — as a human being (mental health issues can affect us all), as a former Ivy League athlete, as a consumer and producer of social media, as a father of teenage athletes, and yes, as a sports medicine clinician.  It was a powerful read, a ‘page turner’ — one that has left me thinking long after I turned the last page, the hallmark of a good book, I think.

Madison (Maddy) Holleran was a high level track runner attending Penn, one of her dream schools, as a freshman.  She came from a supporting, loving family, and was endowed with so many gifts. She was the person who ‘had it all.’ Her social media favorite — Instagram — provided the visuals and narrative confirming that.

But.

But, Maddy struggled with anxiety and depression, and she took her life early in the second semester of her first year at university, leaving so many people mourning the loss and full of questions.

The author Kate Fagan stepped into this story and has written such an insightful book on the nexus of youth sports, mental health, and social media.  Ms. Fagan herself is a former NCAA athlete who poignantly discusses her own struggles with mental health in this book.  Indeed, the story is first and foremost’s Maddy’s; but we come to know the struggles of two athletes as we read this book: the author’s and the subject’s. Read more of this post

The Mental Health Podcast and CASEMCON2019

I hope readers of this blog, and listeners of the podcast, have been following #CASEMCON2019 on their social media feeds this week. The Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine (CASEM) has been conducting its annual meeting in Vancouver these past several days, and is scheduled to wrap up today, May 18.  I have learned so much from following this #, as well as following the feeds of CJSM Twitter friends including Drs. Jane Thornton  Margo Mountjoy and Laura Cruz.

The topic of mental health in sport has figured prominently in the CASEM proceedings:  for instance, Clint Malarchuk, a retired NHL player, is scheduled to talk today about the stigma of mental health in sport.

And so one of our more recent publications and our most recent podcast could not be timelier (published in our May 2019 journal): The Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Sport (CCMHS) Position Statement: Principles of Mental Health in Competitive and High-Performance Sport

Krista Van Slingerland, of CCMHS and the University of Ottawa

The CCMHS is a relatively new organization and, along with a similar group in Sweden, represents one of the first such initiatives on the planet.  The co-founder of CCMHS, Ms. Krista Van Slingerland of the University of Ottawa, is the lead author of the position statement. She graciously met me on Skype (she, in Ottawa, and I in Columbus) to conduct a podcast exploring the issue of mental health in sport and the work CCMHS is doing to bring further attention to this issue and begin treating individual athletes for the problems they are facing.

CJSM is committed to providing a platform for this important issue, one which has been relatively neglected for too long in our world of sport and exercise medicine.  In my training — and I would suspect in yours, too — the focus was primarily on musculoskeletal medicine,  Medical issues such as managing diabetes or exercise-induced asthma, screening for cardiac disease, etc. would demand our attention at times.  The issue of concussion and its sequelae have of course become central to our athletes’ lives and our practice.  But identifying and helping our athletes cope with anxiety, depression, suicidality — I received little to no training in sports medicine about this, and have heretofore relied on my training in family medicine to help.

The new position statement as well as the CJSM CME Module we have created will help clinicians, including myself, learn more about the importance of mental health in the athletes we serve, and will help us be better able to identify and address the issues uncovered.  High profile and tragic stories like that of the life and death by suicide of Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin underscore the vital importance of improving our care.

Besides the timeliness of #CASEMCON2019 wrapping up today in Vancouver with Clint Malarchuk’s talk, there is a bit of additional serendipity to the publication date for the CCMHS statement and this podcast, as well, for May is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth!

And so…..your action items for this weekend

  1. Follow #CASEMCON2019 on your social media feeds
  2. Listen to the podcast, which can be found on our journal web page and on our iTunes feed
  3. Read the position statement — one of the Editor’s picks for this month
  4. Check out the CME module CJSM has produced on the topic of mental health in sport

Super Bowl Blues

The 2018 – 19 NFL season has ended with a familiar conclusion:  the New England Patriots having won (their sixth such championship).

Are you among the people who watched the game and found it boring (‘worst ever’)*?  Did you forego viewing entirely? Are you among the majority (reportedly) of fans disappointed because those Patriots won?  Sad simply because the season is over?

February can be a slog for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere — sports like the NFL can keep us going, and so perhaps you, my dear reader, are a bit blue for any number of reasons?

Well, I do not have something to cheer you up per se — rather I have something, perhaps, that will make you more blue….but it is an issue of vital importance to our profession.  And we can’t turn our eyes askance.

Recently published ‘ahead of print’ is headline-making original research: Reasons for Prescription Opioid Use While Playing in the National Football League as Risk Factors for Current Use and Misuse Among Former Players.

Headlines indeed. Over the Super Bowl weekend the New York Times published an article profiling former NFL players and their struggle with chronic pain and opioid addiction. It referenced the CJSM study authored by Dr. Eugene Dunne of Brown University and his team of authors.  Some of the more important findings reported are that among “….retired NFL players with exposure to prescribed pain medication during their playing career 26.2% reported recent use of prescription opioids (past 30 days).”  Moreover, the authors found that the past may be midwife to the future: use of opioids to manage pain during their career was associated with a 30% increased risk of present-day use of opioids in retired NFL Players.

Opioid use and abuse is a public health crisis of unprecedented scale in the USA according to JAMA.  Sports are not untouched by this epidemic.  CJSM has always striven to publish important and relevant research which can be translated into practical use — we provide this platform for clinicians helping individual patient-athletes, and we provide this platform for public health advocates as well.  We devoted an entire issue (Sept 2018) recently to the oft-neglected subject of pain management in athletes.  Guest Editor Prof. Wayne Derman of Stellenbosch Univ., South Africa emphasized in our podcast with him that it is imperative that clinicians seek holistic methods of pain control and that researchers look more intentionally at the issue of analgesia in athletics. An over-reliance on pharmacology, most especially opioids, is a potential recipe for problems (to wit, the experience of former NFL players in this new CJSM study).

Join us in this work and the global conversation on issues of importance to athletes, clinicians, researchers and public health advocates by checking out some of these references and following us on Twitter. We’ll always keep you abreast of what’s new and breaking in our world of sport and exercise medicine.

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*P.S. I really enjoyed the Super Bowl. Though low scoring, I loved watching Pats’ defense flummox such a great Rams’ offense, and I thought the game was tense until the very end. How about you?

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