Several days ago, a 26-year-old man was hit in the face with a baseball going close to 100 miles per hour. A traumatic and dangerous injury for anyone, this injury was compounded in its complexity and potential impact by the fact that the patient was Aroldis Chapman, famed Cincinnati Reds pitcher.
After the horrific line drive hitting him in the face, his team sprung into action. He was transferred from the stadium to the hospital and stayed overnight. Chapman and his medical team had a number of difficult decisions to make and a large team of providers and "stakeholders" to coordinate.
If he had an orbital fracture, he could be expected to lightly throw, 2 to 3 weeks after surgery, and play in 4 to 6 weeks. He's swollen and difficult to evaluate. Should his plastic surgeons save time on the schedule for him next week? Or see him next week and then schedule him? If they do that, then who will they bump from their already too full schedule? Does he need neurosurgery or ophthalmology or a dental consult? How might the OR, admitting nurse, and anesthesiologist be prepared? Then, what about followup? Can he travel with the team? What about the patient? How should his providers share the ramifications of what happened and what would be happening with Chapman and his family in Cuba?
Happily, Chapman was scheduled for surgery less than 24 hours after the injury, repairing fractures above his left eye and nose. He's expected to pitch again this season. It is clear that whatever medical collaboration tools were used, an incredible amount of medical collaboration did occur.
When medical collaboration occurs (whether with a tool like iClickCare or through other means), that's when good outcomes occur.
In fact, the rapidity and efficacy with which Chapman appears to be put on the road to recovery creates a bittersweet contrast with a similar injury from several decades ago. As baseball fans will remember, Herb Score, a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians was hit in the face by a batted ball in 1957. The injury and its ensuing treatment seem to have been career-ending: Score didn't play again until 1958 and retired completely just before turning 29.
Often, we don't think of sports teams or medical trainers as needing to do urgent medical collaboration at this level of complexity. The truth is, however, that for athletes, medical trainers are part of a large team of providers that are doing some of the most complex and high-pressure medical collaboration there is. These providers need to care for the patient-athlete (as for any other patient) but also weigh the impact of treatment, injury, and rehabilitation on careers that hang on a thread of health, timing, and performance. We applaud Chapman's team (both his sports team and his medical team) for their collaboration and success… and we wish Chapman a speedy recovery.
How are you using medical collaboration in sports medicine or team trainer situations? We'd love for you to share your stories from the front lines in the comments below...
For more medical collaboration stories and strategies, get our free quick guide:
Image courtesy of 20456447@N03 on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.