Sports Medicine:
A Team Approach

To take care of an athlete or an active person, it takes a team. That team involves the physician, athletic trainers, physical therapist, the coach, sideline staff, the family, and any other individuals who interact with the athlete. During my fellowship at Andrews Institute, Dr. James Andrews said that the last time that he counted the number of team members that it took to take care of an NFL team it was over 30 people, each one as important as any other member.

That’s the approach we take with any athlete that gets hurt. We want to ensure the entire team is on board to make sure that we’re keeping them safe, and getting them back as quickly and safely as possible. This approach is something that I discuss whenever I cover high school sports or professional sports, ensuring that the entire sports medicine team is on the same page. That can oftentimes mean meeting with the entire staff prior to the start of the event. It includes engaging the EMS staff, having an emergency action plan – so we all know exactly what needs to happen when somebody does get hurt. It is crucial to make sure everyone on the sports medicine team understands they are important and that everyone has an equal role in making sure that keep our athletes safe.

I know anyone that has done any coverage for school sports truly understands the importance of certified athletic trainers. The athletic trainer is the person that has the boots on the ground at the school. They are with the athletes all the time. Typically, physicians are just there for big events or games, but the athletic trainers are the ones that are taking care of the athletes daily. They know them the best. They understand the injuries. They oftentimes have viewed the injuries in practice and so they’re an integral part of really successfully taking care of a team.

I have been fortunate to work with some phenomenal athletic trainers. They are some of the smartest people in medicine that I’ve worked with. They’re very in-tune with their athletes. Oftentimes, the most helpful interaction when you’re evaluating an athlete is talking to the athletic trainer – getting their thoughts, seeing what they think – and forming a plan based on that. We will work together as a team to speak to the athlete and the athlete’s family to formulate a treatment plan. Having the athletic trainer heavily involved in this process is essential because once we develop the treatment plan, the athletic trainer is going to be the one carrying it out. In my experience, athletic trainers have been extremely well trained medical professionals and great to work with. I am very fortunate to serve on a team with them.

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