Thanks for joining me!
Let’s start by way of introductions. I am a junior doctor based in Manchester, UK. I graduated from Cardiff University a few years back and I am now working towards a career in Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM). It’s not the first career people think of in medicine, and people are always a bit surprised when I say that’s what I want to do. Many don’t even know that it is a branch of medicine, even some of my own colleagues! I quite like surprising people though, it usually leads to an interesting conversation after and people are always keen to tell me about their painful knee or sore shoulder when they find out what I want to do. I don’t mind, but there is more to a career in SEM than just musculoskeletal injuries.
Yes MSK problems are a big part of it, and pitch side (or track side in my case- I love athletics!) management of injuries is an essential skill of any sports physician, but there is so much more than just managing a twisted ankle- management of major trauma, head injuries, cardiac problems, respiratory problems… to name just a few. We carry out invasive procedures including intubation, ventilation and central venous access. We deploy a whole host of pharmaceuticals to manage the acutely unwell and the patient in severe pain. We offer coaching and advice in areas of performance and research. Pitchside is only one part of it, there are a few more avenues a future SEM doctor can venture down.
Rehabilitation. Occupational health. Respiratory conditions in sport. Cardiac conditions in sport. Endocrine conditions in sport. Drug and IPED misuse. Advisory roles for IOC and other regulating bodies. Research and academic roles.
Not to mention the performance side of things- just think about the number of different events you see in the Olympics every 4 years- at Rio 2016 Great Britain took home 67 medals. Behind each of those medals is an entire host of specialists, including doctors, trying to get the best performance possible out of the athletes that win them. As to what that involves, well I often compare SEM to intensive care medicine, but while the intensivist is trying to get a patient with incredibly poor physiology to normal physiology and function, a SEM doctors aims to take someone with normal physiology to supranormal- in other words, we literally create superheroes. Just sayin.
My interest? All of the above. I am still learning so much about my future as a doctor and I haven’t fully decided where that might take me. That may change soon and I’ll be sure to let you know if it does… or you may just start to see my blog posts favour one area of SEM over another!
Anyway- this blog aims to offer up to date information for clinicians and others working in this field about the latest research and practical applications of practising SEM. We will look at new papers, consensus decisions, offer revision aids and basically anything else I can think of related to this field.
Why am I doing this? The amount of training we get at medical school about sport and exercise medicine is pretty much zero. Nada. Zilch. So this blog will (hopefully) go some way to fill that gap in knowledge and maybe even be a little bit interesting!
I am not an expert. This is as much a learning experience for me as it is for anybody else and I openly encourage differing points of view, debate, contradictions and generally just telling me I am wrong if I am. Educate me when I am. Thats the only way we learn and grow. Lets just keep it friendly yeah?
We look for medicine to be an orderly field of knowledge and procedure. But it is not. It is an imperfect science, an enterprise of constantly changing knowledge, uncertain information, fallible individuals, and at the same time lives on the line. There is science in what we do, yes, but also habit, intuition, and sometimes plain old guessing. The gap between what we know and what we aim for persists. And this gap complicates everything we do. — Atul Gawande