As medical providers, we want all of our patients to stay healthy, have as few medical interventions as possible, and return to health quickly after sickness or injury.
For our patients who are athletes, the consequences of injury or illness are particularly great. When players -- whether amateurs or professionals -- get injured, they may be putting their careers on the line. Additionally, a single player's injury can endanger the viability of the entire team. Despite the consequences, injury remains a huge part of the experience of athletes who are performing at a high level. And athletic trainers are the primary line of defense against these injuries.
The Athletic Trainers that I know are concerned by trends like the ones acknowledged in a recent New York Times article about the epidemic of baseball players who are having the "Tommy John" ligament surgery:
- The volume of injured pitchers in MLB is huge and growing: "The year with the most documented Tommy John surgical procedures was 2012; there were 69 between the majors and the minors."
- Many pitchers are playing year-round to satisfy the level of performance required of them, which can increase injury rates.
- 1 in 5 professional players who have surgeries like this one never make it back to full strength.
Some Athletic Trainers, however, manage to flip the statistics and keep their players injury-free at greater-than-average rates and help their players recover faster than other athletes.
We've found that successful trainers focus on 3 specific things:
- Prevention. This is the real forté of Athletic Trainers. Through careful, consistent attention and thoughtful pre-injury measures, the best Athletic Trainers prevent dramatic injuries and interventions. The best way to solve the problem is to keep it from happening.
- Collaboration. The best Athletic Trainers know that they are not the only member of an athlete's medical team. They find ways to collaborate with other medical providers to shorten the length of time between diagnosis and treatment, drop transport and wait time, improve medical decisions, and make the best possible plan for that particular patient. We've seen Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine to have dramatic results in improving athletes' medical outcomes.
- Rehabilitation. As all medical providers know, rehabilitation is a fundamental part of wellness. It's a piece of the puzzle that can get lost in the shuffle, especially when many providers are on the medical team. But with good medical collaboration and consistent engagement by the Athletic Trainer, rehablitation can happen with surprising speed.
To learn how Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine can help you keep players and patients injury free:
Image courtesy of ucniss on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.