A sports medicine physician has specialized training in the prevention and treatment of injury and illness. The more qualified among them may also be orthopedic surgeons; these doctors are ideally suited to play the role of a sport’s team’s physician and may serve as team doctors for teams or players in the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB.
What Sports Medicine Treats
Sports medicine doctors are trained in the human musculoskeletal system and may be board-certified in emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine or physical medicine – rehabilitation. Sports medicine is a recognized subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Subspecialties and by Medicare.
Sports medicine physicians specialize in healing injuries in order to return an athlete to the playing field as quickly as possible, in the best health possible. They may deal with concussions and may be trained in the use and application of supplements and performance aids. They preach injury prevention. They also make the “return to play” or “injured reserve” decision for athletes coming off an injury. They also focus on proper strength training and conditioning and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
At the highest level, when an NBA player comes down wrong on an ankle and twists it, a sports medicine specialist may be first on the scene to make a determination about whether the player should remain on the bench or head to the locker room for more in-depth treatment. Team doctors seem to err on the side of caution.
Sports Medicine Doctors Treat Everyone
It is not unusual for orthopedic practices to have a sports medicine doctor on staff. These doctors know how to get a person back on their feet, performing as quickly as possible without any long-term risk. They also know how to treat teens and younger athletes whose bones may still be developing (because growth-plate breaks can lead to possible long-term damage).