Sport and Exercise medicine is a specialty involved in the management of not only injuries to the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles and bones), but also involves the treatment of medical problems that may affect sport and exercise such as asthma, diabetes and infectious diseases. Sports medicine physicians are also able to prescribe both specific and general exercise programs for patients for injury management and general health.
Sports medicine patients are not just ‘elite’ athletes or sportspeople. They will come from all walks of life, from young children to the elderly. Patients may vary from being sedentary adults who get injured at work or home, to ‘weekend warriors’ or recreational exercisers, to full-time elite/professional athletes. Many patients that present have musculoskeletal problems not associated with sport and exercise (e.g. osteoarthritis) and these patients are welcome to be reviewed. The principles of accurate diagnosis, allowing prescription of effective treatment and rehabilitation programs is common to all levels of patient.
A general passion for sport and exercise is present in all Sports Physicians. This provides and empathic and sport specific approach to return to activity for the patient, and also a relevant knowledge of most forms of recreational activity.
Sports Physicians are medically trained doctors who then complete a further 4 years of post-graduate specialist training. Before starting the training program of the Australasian College of Sports and Exercise Physicians (ACSP) the doctor must have practiced medicine for at least 3 years. There is a rigorous training program involved a barrier entry examination, yearly assessments with a research/publication requirement. A rigorous exit examination is sat at the end of the 4 year training program.
With the goal of improving the health outcomes of their patients’ health with exercise, the ACSP was founded by a dedicated group of like-minded medical doctors in 1985. Formal assessment and training structures followed between 1990 and 1993 and it was soon recognised that to give the discipline the attention it deserved, Sport and Exercise Medicine needed to be developed as a full medical specialty. The college grew in strength leading up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 where Sports Physicians were recognized to play a leading role in athlete care.
On November 1st,2010, Sports Physicians were recognized as full medical specialists by the Australian Health Insurance Commission/Medicare. As of this time the specialty of sports medicine is known as “Sport and Exercise Medicine” (SEM), practised by Sports Medicine Physicians.
Given the desire of most athletes to return to their activity in the shortest time possible, sports medicine does explore many ground breaking techniques in the pursuit of accelerated recovery. The benefits of being on the ‘cutting edge’ do filter down to recreational patients to reduce times for return to normal activity.