A challenge exists in defining the term “Sports Medicine”. In simple terms, it is the practice of medicine that is sport related. I was told in grammar school that I was not allowed to define a word with the word, so we must dig deeper.
The internet offers several direct definitions. A favorite first stop for some individuals is Wikipedia which defines Sports Medicine as “an area of health and special services that apply medical and scientific knowledge to prevent, recognize, manage, and rehabilitate injuries related to sport, exercise, or recreational activity”. Not bad, but there is always a concern with Wikipedia and validity. The American Heritage Dictionary via dictionary.com denotes sports medicine as “a branch of medicine that deals with injuries or illnesses resulting from participation in sports and athletic activities”. We could likely go on citing several dictionary resources available on the web, but in the age of evidence based medicine, peer reviewed literature, and need for expert validation we should look to the leaders in the industry.
The American College of Sports Medicine touts itself as the “largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world”. The mission statement is to “promote and integrate scientific research, education, and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health, and quality of life”. Members of this organization include health professionals that work “prevent, diagnose, or treat sports-related injuries”. This is a very well respected organization and has made significant contributions to industry, but unfortunately I was not able to find their specific definition of sports medicine.
The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s mission is to be “a world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication, and fellowship”. The membership includes physicians and allied health professionals that work with individuals of all athletic levels to ensure safe participation and management of their injuries. Publications from this organization include the American Journal of Sports Medicine, Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, and the Sports Medicine Update. All are focused on addressing injuries and issues that are related to participation in sports or health related activities. We seem to be getting closer to a definition!
I am sure we could scour the internet further for definitions, but a couple themes resonate amongst the examples presented. First, sports medicine involves individuals who are active or participate in activities that require physical activity. This does not limit the scope to traditional athletes, but should include weekend warriors, the industrial/occupational workforce, and any active individual. Second, Sports Medicine is multi-disciplinary approach and will encompass any clinician that has an expertise in working with the population previously mentioned.
The message I bring today is simple. Just because an individual says they practice Sports Medicine, may or may not be entirely accurate. Take a Sports Medicine Moment to make an educated health care decision which will impact your injury or illness. The SHMG Sports Medicine Team welcomes the opportunity to treat you or a family member!