Most sports games are highly physical. It entails years of training, practice, and knowledge about what moves work or not in the playing field. While athletes are trained to do their thing, accidents do happen and it is not uncommon for them to sustain various sports-related injuries because getting hurt is all part of the game. Whether in amateur or professional sports, the threat of sustaining an injury is always there and it is a risk all athletes take in every game they play.
It is not yet the end of the world once they do sustain an injury. While there are certain injuries that can spell the end of their careers for some like major accidents involving the spine, brain, and other sensitive internal organs, most injuries are minor and can be easily treated by first aid or a trip to the ER. Athletes that suffer a life-threatening injury are forced to retire early and give up their dreams of taking their career to the next level. Meanwhile, others try to find alternative careers in sports such as becoming a coach or trainer, perhaps.
The professionals with a sports medicine group can help prevent and treat injuries that affect the body’s flexibility, mobility and strength. And, just as important, these specialists can provide important information about how to exercise properly and make the most of your body’s physical capabilities and limitations, so you can pursue the activities you enjoy, safely.
Acute injuries occur because of an incident, such as impact or a fall. These injuries might include a deep cut or bruise, an ankle sprain, a muscle strain, a dislocation or bone fracture. Acute injuries involve body trauma and should be treated immediately.
Chronic injuries — or “overuse injuries” — develop over a period of time, as a result of repetitive motion, such as running, overhead throwing, or extending a limb (such as swinging a tennis racket). Overuse injuries can also occur when you increase the intensity, duration or frequency of an activity too quickly.
Despite the risks, athletes don’t just easily give up their dreams of becoming a sports superstar because of a minor injury they sustained in the daily years of practice to hone their skills. Fortunately, we live in a day and age where many things that used to be impossible several years back are now made possible by modern science and technology. A fine example is stem cell treatment. It is still in its infancy but you can’t deny that this science has so much potential and can possibly be the answer to most sports-related injuries sustained by athletes in their line of work.
That’s the environment now in which orthopedic sports medicine specialists must operate. Right now, everyone loves the phrase “stem cells.” It means hope for people who haven’t found any relief for an ailment, whether it is arthritis, spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Crohn’s disease. Unfortunately, unscrupulous physicians are taking advantage of the hype and cashing in on these patients’ desperation.
Having participated in multiple trials of stem cells for orthopedic treatments, I share some of this hope. For a few limited indications, such as femoral head and femoral condyle osteonecrosis, stem cells may already be worth trying. I have helped develop a concentrated bone marrow aspirate (Intraosseous BioPlasty, Arthrex) for the related indication of knee osteonecrosis. And I am now involved in clinical trials of stem cell therapy for articular cartilage resurfacing and repair.
Even outside of sports (both amateur and professional), talks about stem cell research not only sparks controversies but excitement as well. Who wouldn’t be excited at the possibility of not having to worry about any disease or condition in this world with the aid of stem cells, where every cell in your body comes from? Imagine, you can just regenerate new cells in the presence of disease or infections and become healthy once more. For someone who is at a higher risk of getting injured like athletes, this technology is not just handy but a life saver to allow them to pursue their athletic passion without fear of getting hurt, sick, or even die in the midst of a game.