Sports Medicine Enhancing Care for Amateur and Professional Athletes
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Many young football players dream of playing in the NFL. My dream was to work for an NFL team and care for the medical needs of these skilled athletes.
Anyone who has watched an NFL game has seen the elite athleticism—and its potential for injuries. Our job as athletic trainers is to help prevent, evaluate and treat conditions ranging from concussions to soft tissue sprains and strains, fractures/dislocations and internal injuries. We also care for our share of chronic conditions.
A Carestream digital X-ray system at Lambeau Field can deliver excellent images in seconds. Our staff provides these images to our team physicians and other specialists who diagnose the injury and determine whether a player can return to the “action” or is in need of further evaluation or urgent care.
Many spectators don’t realize the medical expertise that is available on the sideline for every game—which includes orthopaedists, internal medicine specialists, neurosurgeons, emergency room physicians and neuropsychologists. These experts can view images on the sideline using their iPads and make critically important medical treatment decisions in seconds.
As athletic trainers, game days are just a small aspect of our weekly routine. We monitor our players’ healthcare all year—from the last whistle of the season through the off-season program and back through another long season. We work closely with our physicians to provide optimal and personalized care for each player. Using baseline concussion testing, body composition and multiple physical exams, we are always on the lookout for conditions and injuries that may not present immediate symptoms.
Every year athletic training and physical therapy professionals are exposed to the latest imaging, diagnostic and treatment technologies that can help enhance patient care. We are seeing a tremendous growth in the number of individuals who pursue these careers, which will help enhance the health of amateur to professional athletes for years to come.
Pepper Burruss was named Director of Sports Medicine Administration for the Green Bay Packers in June. He was the team’s Head Athletic Trainer for 22 years and is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist. He also worked for 16 seasons with the New York Jets as an Assistant Athletic Trainer. Burruss has won several awards during his career, including being honored as the NFL Physicians Society’s Outstanding NFL Athletic Trainer for the 2012 season. In 2011, he and his staff were named the NFL’s Athletic Training Staff of the Year.