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Sports medicine—too often overlooked
“Your wealth is your health.”
In the most literal of senses this statement applies in the sports industry. Individuals who make their living by physical means versus sitting behind a desk learn sooner or later that without their physical well-being their ability to perform and therefore earn their living is compromised—a fact which in turn will affect other aspects of their life and business.
Unfortunately, sports medicine is an area that is too often overlooked or under-budgeted and yet, with the cost-cutting approach, the expectations of high athletic output and performance ironically and idiotically remain. It is the most directly conflicting approach possible. Is it feasible to expect any piece of equipment such as a car, a tractor or a blender to perform the same way if it is not serviced or cleaned? Obviously, it isn’t! The human body is a human machine and much like the inanimate machine, if you neglect to take care of it, it will fail to perform as expected.
There are ways of implementing a basic sports medicine programme that can be cost effective. It may not be the gold standard of sports medicine programmes but if you start with a good foundation that comprises standard protocols for athlete care and communication, even a simple system can have an impact on a team but even this will require some investment.
Consider the following. According to www.collegecalc.org the average annual out-of-state cost for a bachelor programme in athletic training/therapy costs over US$30,000 with an estimated average total four year degree costing over US$130,000.
Continuing education units are required once you have received certification and these can be very pricey, particularly for athletic trainers located outside of the USA who need to budget for travel, accommodations, meals and transport aside from the actual cost of the course, materials and such. It is not uncommon for a four day course in a manual technique to cost over US$2,000.
Compared to some other professions, these figures may not be flabbergasting but this does not negate the fact that they are pricey and in order for athletic trainers/therapists to be able to realise their potential to be the best they can be and to provide the best possible outcomes, they need to generate a fair income to keep up with the latest techniques. As such, the cost cutting approach to the sports medicine area that tends to exist at the club and federation levels in Trinidad and Tobago certainly does not mesh with the idea of providing the best levels of athletic healthcare.
Investment comes in many forms. While yes it is about money, it is not ONLY about money as people are often quick to assume and accuse it is when approaching not just athletic trainers/therapists but also properly qualified strength and conditioning trainers. Particularly in the initial stages there are ways to make up for financial limitations, should it fall short—that is what negotiations are for. Creative problem-solving comes in there. But the problem that runs a close second place to the insufficient funding is the allowance for time—time to meet; time to discuss and understand.
Perhaps it is because good healthcare exists in the background and is not seen on TV when the athlete is competing along with the sneakers he/she is wearing or the bat they are handling, that the assigned value to sports medicine is quickly dismissed or underestimated. The fact is, no one wins by this witlessness.
Meeting with competent sports medicine personnel will quickly and easily reveal what is required to keep a team healthy. A resume and years of experience are strong indicators of their competency level. Without making that time to educate oneself, as the person sitting at the head of the table, is failure to truly seek the returns on your investment i.e. the athlete/team.
It is to show that the only interest that exists is in using athlete and the sport for short-sighted gains and have little to no interest in the development and well-fair. The most successful companies in the world know that they will lose their employees if they do not take care of them.
Club and Federation administrators, it is time to open your eyes and stop pretending to not know or to not recognise the value of sports medicine. To be able to expect the best from your athletes, you have to be willing to invest in their heath because their health isn’t just their wealth, it is your wealth too.
Asha De Freitas-Moseley is a certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association of the USA. She has over 11 years of experience rehabilitating athletes and members of the active population from injury to full play. She can be reached at Pulse Performance Ltd., located at #17 Henry Pierre Street, St James. Tel: 221-2437.