The CJSM Podcast with Dr. Tamara McLeod — Pediatric & Adolescent Concussions

Our guest for the newest CJSM podcast is a friend and colleague I see in a variety of professional settings, and it’s always a pleasure when our paths cross.  Tamara Valovich McLeod PhD, ATC is a busy clinician and researcher at A.T. Still University in Arizona, USA, where she is J.P. Wood, D.O., Chair for Sports Medicine and Professor as well as Director of the Athletic Training Program.

Dr. McLeod is the lead author of an original research paper in our July 2019 CJSM: Patient, Injury, Assessment and Treatment Characteristics & Return-to-play Timelines After Sport-Related Concussion.

Dr. McLeod does it all — from teaching to research to racing.

In our podcast, Dr. McLeod describes how her team did a deep-dive into data from a growing practice-based research network (now encompassing 37 states in the USA) to uncover some of the finer points associated with the presentation, management and outcomes seen in pediatric and adolescent sport-related concussion.

The Athletic Training Practice Based Research Network (AT-PBRN) is centered at A.T. Still University and is a valuable resource for the profession of athletic trainers  (ATs) and sports medicine clinicians in general.  You’ll be sure to see more research coming out of this database in the coming years.

If you’re listening from outside of the USA, you may not be so familiar with ATCs and their central role to the care of athletes, most especially at the secondary school and university levels.  You’ll learn more about the profession if you listen in on the conversation I had with Dr. McLeod.

As ever, you can find this podcast episode (and all of our episodes) on both iTunes and on the CJSM main website.

Remember to subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes so you can access an episode as soon as it is released, and while you are visiting the iTunes site be sure to rate and comment on the good and the bad after listening.  We’re always seeking to improve our media at CJSM.

Summer Reading, Continued

It’s hard to believe. August is here.

In the USA, this is prime time for my field of pediatric sports medicine.  Two-a-day practices have started in high school.  Contact in American football practices will soon begin.  This training is all taking place in the heat.  We’ve got a lot of injuries coming our way.

And yet….it is still summer, and that means vacation for a lot of us.

In the last CJSM blog post, I shared with you a book that I would consider a ‘must read’ for anyone in our profession who cares for young athletes or is interested in the mental health of athletes, especially elite ones:  What Made Maddy Run?

In this post, I want to commend to you another read, David Epstein’s new book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.

Mr. Epstein is likely well known to at least American readers of CJSM.  He was a keynote speaker at the AMSSM annual meeting several years ago, and was a focus of a CJSM blog post published at the time his last book came out (another ‘must read’ for our profession): The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Ability. 

The Epstein book I am currently reading, Range, is a great book for summer travels.  It was a compelling read that I could pick up on a plane, on the beach, or from my nightstand.  Mr. Epstein’s prose flows as he, er, ranges over a variety of topics centered on the theme of generalists vs. specialists.

The book’s most obvious connection to our world is via the increasingly hot topic in sports medicine of sport specialization, most notably early specialization in youth sports, increasingly recognized as a possible contributor to a high incidence of overuse injuries and burnout. Mr. Epstein explodes the modern dominant paradigm of the so-called 10,000 hour rule, making an argument that specialization may be a crucial piece for excelling only in a limited range of sports (e.g. golf, gymnastics).  That youth who start off as generalists go on to  thrive instead in most sports.

He divides the sports world (and the world in general) into ‘kind’ and ‘wicked’ environments.  Read more of this post

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

Making a Good Thing Better — The Healthy Sport Index & Youth Sports

I have the great privilege of taking care of many outstanding young athletes in my sports medicine clinics

Youth sports is of special interest to me — I practice pediatric sports medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and perhaps 90% or more of the patients I see regularly participate in youth sports.

The topic is of great interest to this journal as well:  for example, CJSM will publish later this year a themed issue on topics in youth sports medicine, guest edited by my friend and colleague, pediatrician Alison Brooks M.D. of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM).

Youth sports has long been recognized as a valuable activity for the individuals and families who choose to participate.  An abundance of evidence points to the health benefits — physical, mental, academic — that can be achieved by children and adolescents engaging in sports.

There has been growing concern over the last decade or two (or three), however, of the potential and possibly growing risks of youth sports.  The concerns range from early youth sports specialization and overuse injuries to early professionalism. The concerns include the youth sports culture itself – a culture manifest in nightmare form by the myriad incidents of abuse seen in USA Gymnastics or Swimming.

On April 12 2019, the AMSSM will be hosting a pre-conference prior to their annual meeting, entitled the Youth Early Sports Specialization Summit (YESSS!)   Among many of the subjects up for discussion is the “Healthy Sport Index (HSI),” an instrument developed by the Aspen Institute’s Project Play initiative and made public in October 2018. The HSI was designed to help kids and families answer the important question:  what sport is right for my child?  As a physician caring for thousands of these athletes a year, I can’t tell you how often I’m posed that question.  Now there is a tool to help.

One of the physicians who served on the Advisory Group for the development of the HSI was Michele LaBotz, M.D. She is a pediatrician and sports medicine physician in a large multi-specialty group in southern Maine, who serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness (COSMF) and is a member of the AMSSM.  She kindly volunteered to give an overview on the HSI for the CJSM blog, and we’re delighted we can share her thoughts in the run up to YESSS!

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HEALTHY SPORT INDEX:  A UNIQUE TOOL FOR YOUTH SPORTS

Michele LaBotz MD FAAP

As health care providers, we rightfully emphasize safety and injury risk when discussing sport participation in young athletes.  We recognize the potential risks of sports that are contact vs. non-contact, or those that are high impact vs. low impact.   But, sport selection and participation is about more than just injury risk, and there is under-recognition that different sports exert a variety of influences on young athletes.  The Healthy Sport Index (HSI) presents this information in an appealing format and is a valuable resource for families and other stakeholders when considering sport-related issues in children and adolescents

HSI aggregates evidence-based data on physical activity, psychosocial effects, and safety on the 10 most popular high school sports for boys and girls in the U.S. Read more of this post

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