#SocialMedia + #SportsMedicine = #PerfectMatch

Sheree Bekker

Sheree Bekker, ACRISP

The power of social media in our field, the field of sports medicine — it has been something I have written about from time to time.  It’s something I have lectured about, too, on several occasions:  at American College of Sports Medicine(ACSM) meetings as well as at a recent National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) meeting.

I think there are, indisputably, a number of reasons someone in our field should get on Twitter, or should identify a blog or podcast to follow…..Among those reasons: i) there exists an extraordinarily flexible, responsive, and timely method of staying abreast of ‘breaking’ news in our world; ii) there is a unique way of curating the research one cares about; and iii) there is the ability to have conversations and network with peers from around the globe.  No limits in space and time to the #SportsMedicine community that exists on #SocialMedia channels.

All that said, I also think Social Media does not exist apart from ‘real relationships’.  That is, in my judgment, the relationships formed in Social Media are grounded in the chance that they can be made physically real.  Social Media alone will not replace a handshake, or a face-to-face conversation at a conference. But Social Media can be that introductory acquaintance that can blossom into a more collaborative relationship when two colleagues finally meet.

Sheree Bekker — aka @ACRISPFedUni [The Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention], aka @shereebekker — represents, for me, precisely that sort of person, that sort of relationship  I first made her acquaitnace via her Twitter feeds. Then I was blown away by a  blog post she authored after her participation in a Mayo Clinic Healthcare and Social Media Summit in Australia.  And, finally, I met her.  The ‘real’ her, and not a Twitter avatar! Turns out that Sheree is originally from Botswana, and she was in southern Africa for a visit home and a swing through the South African Sports Medicine Association meeting in Johannesburg (SASMA2015) which I recently attended, as well.  From “Learners to Leaders,” that was the theme of SASMA2015; those of you who follow this blog know full well what a smashing success that conference was.

When Sheree came up to introduce herself to me in Johannesburg, well, it was like meeting an old friend.  And rather quickly, we decided we needed to do a joint blog post about Social Media and its place in the Sports Medicine world.

In the spirit of collaboration, here is Sheree, to talk more about how, in particular, Social Media can play a role in turning “Learners” into “Leaders.”


Sheree Bekker: It is no secret that I am a big fan of slightly obsessed with the opportunity that social media affords emerging researchers to cultivate a voice in their field. I first shared my story of how I landed my international PhD scholarship through a Twitter connection in ‘Why you should use Twitter during your PhD’, and mused about how social media may play an even larger role in our academic careers than we realize (as an aside, today I would say: social media does play a large role in our careers – whether we want it to or not, whether we engage or not – this will become evident as you read on). I received an overwhelming response from post-graduate researchers on this post – and it soon became obvious that the common theme in these responses was that it was the sense of community and connection that draws people to social media. I also learned that those of us working in sports medicine are indeed very lucky, as our field has been an early and enthusiastic adopter of social media – and it can be disheartening for people in other fields to join the conversation eagerly, only to find that ‘I am stuck in a Twitter-desert, help!

Personally, as a current ‘learner’, I have found that Twitter has been invaluable in facilitating connections. One of the SASMA2015 sessions discussed the concept of ‘building a network’, which can often be highly intimidating for emerging researchers to do. How do I approach someone whose work I admire? What will we talk about? Read more of this post

The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Meeting — St. Louis 2015

the arch

Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch is the signature structure of the St. Louis skyline

larussa room st louis

They love their Cardinals in St. Louis

I’m honored to have been asked by the folks at NATA to give a talk at their annual gathering, which is taking place right now in St. Louis.

The subject of my talk is how one can use modern technology to stay abreast of the medical literature.  The punch line is:  get on social media, if you’re not there already.

From eTOCs to Twitter, podcasts to blogs, who to follow and when to mute:  I’ll be covering that while I speak here at #NATA2015.

I continue to be amazed at times just how functional social media can be, how important it is for me professionally.  I’m ‘in the know’ when it comes to CJSM, since I’m on the Editorial Board.  But for breaking news from other journals?  Nothing beats social media. Just yesterday I learned on Twitter of a  new meta-analysis of the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for improving health-related physical fitness in adolescents from our friends at BJSM.  Twitter!

gail taping ankle

@GSwish — just one of the many fabulous ATCs with whom I work @NCHSportsMed

Reflecting on this meeting, I find it hard to imagine working in this profession of sports medicine without the team play of the certified athletic trainers (ATCs) with whom I collaborate in the clinic and on the sidelines.  ATCs are on the front line when caring for athletes, at least here in the United States.  Almost every significant injury prevention strategem — ranging from identification and early treatment of exertional heat illness, to removing concussed athletes from the field of play — turn on the education, and application of that knowledge, by this amazing group of professionals.

Beyond that, the research these folks do is truly impressive.  Some names of authors who are well known to the readers of CJSM — Kevin Guskiewicz, Tracey Covassin, Jason Mihalik, Johna Register-Mihalik — are all ATCs, and all here in St. Louis.

So I’m getting ready to listen to some great talks given by those folks as well as other invited guests, including the epidemiologist Dawn Comstock and the NCAA Medical Director Brian Hainline.  And I’m getting ready to share what I have heard.  Follow us on Twitter @cjsmonline for some of the breaking news from #NATA2015 !

CJSM in Southeast Asia


With Suthichai Yoon (L), Dr. Mokkhavesa (standing) and Dr. Lamsam (R) at ‘The Cup’

I’m enjoying a vacation with my family in Thailand and Vietnam, and I can’t help but notice that sports is as big of a deal here as it seems to be anywhere else I travel.  In the time I’ve been here Chelsea F.C. has played in a friendly with the Thai All Stars, Leicester City has made a name (infamous) for itself during their visit to Thailand, and the sports news is full of results from the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games which began June 5 and are taking place in Singapore.

mo celebrating

A Barca fan celebrating Champions League triumph in the middle of the night, Vietnam

And all that is only the local and regional sporting news.  Like so many others here in SE Asia, I am trying to stay abreast of developments at Roland Garros and in the NBA and NHL finals.  I delighted in the news that came in this morning on American Pharoah’s achievement:  the first Triple Crown in 37 years!

My Thai is rudimentary and my Vietnamese non-existent; and so I’m happy to report that the English news in Thailand especially is extremely well developed.  The Nation newspaper, a daily English paper which is part of the Nation Multimedia Group, is part of my morning routine here in SE Asia–both in print and on line–and helps keep me abreast of the sporting news.

Where there is sports there is sports medicine.  Before coming to Vietnam, where I am writing this blog post, I enjoyed an excellent lunch at The Cup in Bangkok with Drs. Chanin Lamsam and Suprija Mokkhavesa, and Mr. Suthichai Yoon, to suss out the sport medicine and publishing landscape in Thailand.  Dr. Lamsam is Head of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine at Siviraj Hospital and is on faculty at Mahidol University.  Dr. Mokkhavesa has spent his career in military medicine, and is in the Department of Orthopaedics at Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok.  And Suthichai Yoon is Co-founder of the Nation Multimedia group.

Dr. Lamsam gave me some sense of the sport medicine scene in Thailand.   Read more of this post

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