Posts Tagged ‘sports medicine’

Simple Sideline Vision Test Helps Identify Concussions

A simple vision test performed on the sidelines can help identify athletes who have suffered a concussion, according to a new study.

“Adding a vision-based test to evaluate athletes on the sidelines may allow us to better detect more athletes with concussion more quickly.

This is particularly important since not all athletes reliably report their symptoms of concussion, including any vision problems,” said senior author Laura Balcer, MD, New York University School of Medicine.

She presented the results of the study at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Philadelphia on April football concussions

Sports medicine experts have been using standard tests based on balance and cognitive tasks to detect concussion on the sidelines.

But these tests cannot pick up subtle signs of concussion.

They started using vision tests because visual pathways are commonly affected in concussion, said Balcer.


The 1-minute vision test involves reading a series of numbers from index cards or an iPad screen.

The results on the sideline can be compared to a baseline assessment.

Any slowing in time taken to complete the test can be deemed a sign of concussion.

In the study, a total of 217 athletes aged 18 to 22 years playing on the University of Florida men’s football, women’s soccer, and women’s lacrosse teams were tested at the start of the season and again if a concussion was suspected during play.

Among 30 athletes with a first concussion, 79% had a worsen performance on the vision test compared with 52% using a standard concussion evaluation.

Combining information from both tests, the researchers found that 89% of athletes with a concussion were correctly identified.

When results from a third test evaluating errors in balance was added, 100% were identified.

What’s more, a worse score on the vision test correlated with more severe concussion symptoms.

The researchers don’t think the vision test alone is enough to diagnose a concussion.

They believe it’s best used in combination with standard balance and cognition tests.

The bottom-line: All athletes in sports with high concussion rates should undergo pre-season and postseason vision testing, with additional evaluations in real-time to check for suspected concussions.

The Key to Ankle Sprains May Be in the Hips and Knees

If you want to avoid an ankle sprain – one of the most common injuries seen at sports medicine clinic – the key may be in your hips and ankles.

A new study by Georgia kinesiologists suggests that movements at the knee and hip joints may play a role in ankle sprains as well.

“If you have ankle sprains, you may have a problem with the way you move, and we think we can change movement through rehabilitation,” said Cathleen Brown, assistant professor in the department of kinesiology in the College of Education.

She is the lead author of the study published in the early online edition of the journal Clinical Biomechanics.

Previous studies on ankle sprains have shown that some people return to sports or physical activities without a problem.

The Georgia researchers set out to find out know why some people recover completely, and others do not.

They put 88 people into an Avatar-like body suit that sent data to cameras and computers detailing the exact position of ankle, knee, and hip joints.

The participants jumped off an in-ground metal platform and landed on one foot without assistance.

The key finding had to do with the landing.

Those who had uninjured ankles bent their knees and swayed their hips side-to-side more often than either of the other groups.

Those who had sprained an ankle but no longer felt pain or weakness also showed movement in those joints.

A group with lingering ankle pain appeared unable to use their knee and hip joints as well when landing on the metal surface.

“Maybe the injured people don’t use the same landing strategies, or their strategies aren’t as effective,” Brown said.

She noted that “we don’t know if they are this way because of the injury, or if they got this injury because they land this way.”

The next step is to examine the 3 joints in combination and possibly identify the particular movement patterns that could translate into new rehab techniques for ankle sprains.

There already is a precedent in preventing knee injuries.

A number of studies have unequivocally demonstrated that female athletes who participate in jumping and cutting sports are about five times more likely to sustain serious knee injuries than males.

Biomechanical studies have shown that female athletes have decreased neuromuscular strength and coordination in the muscles that stabilize the knee joint, which may be responsible for this injury increase.

Now a variety of “jump training” programs have been designed to show female athletes how to jump, and land, better so that they can increase their hamstrings strength and improve the ability to control dangerous forces at the knee.

Living Testament to Top 10 Fitness Trends

I’m a living testament to the top 10 fitness trends.

For the past 6 years, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, has conducted an annual survey of health and fitness professionals worldwide designed to reveal trends in various fitness environments.

This year the 2,620 respondents chose the following top 10 fitness trends for 2012:

1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals. Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, such as those offered by ACSM.

2. Strength training. Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete physical activity program for all physical activity levels and genders.

3. Fitness programs for older adults. As the baby boom generation ages into retirement, some of these people have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. Therefore, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active.

4. Exercise and weight loss. In addition to nutrition, exercise is a key component of a proper weight loss program. Health and fitness professionals who provide weight loss programs are increasingly incorporating regular exercise and caloric restriction for better weight control in their clients.

5. Children and obesity. With childhood obesity growing at an alarming rate, health and fitness professionals see the epidemic as an opportunity to create programs tailored to overweight and obese children. Solving the problem of childhood obesity will have an impact on the health care industry today and for years to come.

6. Personal training. More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates that students are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields such as personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.

7. Core training. Distinct from strength training, core training specifically emphasizes conditioning of the middle-body muscles, including the pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen – all of which provide needed support for the spine.

8. Group personal training. In challenging economic times, many personal trainers are offering group training options. Training two or three people at once makes economic sense for both the trainer and the clients.

9. Zumba and other dance workouts. A workout that requires energy and enthusiasm, Zumba combines Latin rhythms with interval-type exercise and resistance training.

10. Functional fitness. This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related.

Last Spring, my wife and I bought a series of personal training sessions with certified pros (#1) at both of our kids’ respective school fundraisers.

My plan is ask one of these personal trainers (#6) to set up a general strength training program (#2), in particular working on my upper body strength so I can continue to carry home a case of seltzer from the beverage store a few blocks away (#10).

I’d like to specifically work on core training (#7), which I think will help with turning my waist during the Tai Chi classes I take twice a week at my local Y, mostly with other baby boomers (#3).

I’ve become much more aware of portion sizes recently with my wife on a weight-loss program, and with my doctor’s encouragement, I’m doing aerobics for 30 minutes about twice a week (#4).

One of the issues I follow regularly is childhood obesity (#5) and I blog about it often.

Okay, so I don’t do Zumba classes (“I won’t dance, don’t ask me”) and I’d rather work one-on-one with a personal trainer than in a group.

But the fitness pros pretty much got it all right in their predictions for next year’s top trends.

Sports Medicine Guide for the Media, or Anyone

If you want quick, easy-to-understand descriptions of some of the most common sports injuries, from ankle sprains to overuse injuries to rotator cuff tears, check out the new 33-page Sports Medicine Media Guide: An illustrated Resource on the Most Common Injuries and Treatments in Sports.

The new guide is now available online from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Designed as a resource for sports reporters who want to simply and accurately explain common sports injuries, the guide can also help anyone who wants a quick reference to most of the major joint-related sports injuries.

For example, under Ankle Sprains, the guide defines what an ankle sprain is, how it can be treated (the tried-and-true initial step is the RICE formula: Rest, Ice Compression, Elevation), and how to prevent it.

The guide is divided into 20 sections, each focusing on a specific injury and providing information on causes, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as related definitions, statistics, and resources.

Under Statistics in the Ankle Sprain section, the guide notes that about 25,000 ankle sprains occur in the United States every day, making it one of the top 10 sports injuries.

Sections are written by an orthopedic surgeon or other medical professional specializing in the particular injury or condition who offers insight on what to expect in recovery, how to avoid injury, and how to get back into the game.

High-resolution photographs and medical illustrations provide additional detail to further explain the injury.

The guide includes sections on Ankle Sprains, AC Joint injuries, Articular Cartilage Injuries, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries, Meniscal Tears, Shoulder Impingement, Stress Fractures, Rotator Cuff Tears, Shoulder Instability/Dislocations, SLAP Tears, Throwing Injuries in Children, and Overuse Injuries.

In addition, the guide contains information on such topics as Exercise and the Mature Athlete, Anabolic Steroids, MRSA (Staph) Infections, Heat Illness, Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes, and two very newsy topics, Concussions and Treatment of Tendon/Ligament Disorders with Platelet-Rich Plasma.

The Concussion section ends with the clear recommendation that all athletes who sustain a concussive episode, no matter how minor, undergo an evaluation by a medical physician before returning to play.

The illustrations for Ankle Sprains and ACL Injuries show particularly good detail, while other illustrations are very simple (AC Joint, Articular Cartilage, Meniscus, Shoulder Impingement and Dislocation).

The MRI of a Rotator Cuff Tear looks like a close-up photo of a fish eye, and should have been replaced by a clear illustration.

Also, there are glaring omissions in three of the most commonly injured joints, the neck, back, and elbow.

Overall, the guide is a fine place to find a very short overview of many joint injuries before you go to other websites for more details.

Playing Surface Matters in Golf Injuries

Although golf is not considered a strenuous sport, about one-third of recreational golfers sustain an injury each year.

And about two-thirds of golfers over age 50 suffer some type of golf injury.

Sports medicine doctors know that golfers who return to action after a long layoff are at high risk of an injury.

Overstretching a joint or muscle may result in a sprain or muscle pull, causing many miserable Mondays after that first weekend back to golf.

Topping the list of golfer’s injuries are the back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee.

To prevent back injuries, strengthen the abdominal muscles with crunches (bent-knee sit-ups).

Shoulder raises with light dumbbells help prevent shoulder problems.

Squeezing a small rubber ball with each hand strengthens the forearms and helps protect the elbows and wrists from damage.

For the knees, strengthen the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh (leg extensions) and the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh (leg curls).

New research presented on June 2 at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting and the 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine suggests that golfers recovering from or prone to injury should limit playing or practicing on natural grass.

Andrea Fradkin, PhD, an associate professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA, says “certain parts of the body may be subjected to greater forces on natural grass, increasing the potential for injury or re-injury.”

If you’re coming back to the links after an injury, first head to the driving range to hit balls off the mat easily a few times to get your muscles used to swinging again.

At home, develop a daily stretching routine.

Spending just a little time stretching regularly will give you an edge over your golfing buddies and consistently shave a few strokes off your scores.

It also helps insulate you from a further injury.

Golfers should concentrate on stretching the trunk, shoulders, and hamstring and calf muscles.

For the trunk, place a club behind your head, rotate and hold for 20 seconds, then turn back and hold again for 20 seconds.

For the shoulders, stretch one arm across your body and hold for 20 seconds, then repeat with the other arm.

For the hamstring and calf muscles, do toe touches for 20 seconds at a time.

Once you have recovered from an injury, before you play warm up, stretch, then hit a bucket of balls on the driving range, progressing from short irons to longer clubs.

After you play, go through your stretching program.

One good stretch in each area will prevent soreness the next day.

Online Tool Tracks Exercise-Induced Asthma

If you run into breathing problems when you exercise, you may have what sports medicine doctors call exercise-induced asthma.

Asthma attacks usually result from exposure to environmental factors, but they may be induced by exercise.

Mild symptoms can be managed by reducing the intensity of exercise or with the help of an inhaler.

To prevent an attack, take a slow, prolonged warm-up and a longer, but slightly less vigorous aerobic activity period.

An inhaler can be used before exercise, if necessary.

If you are participating in an organized sport or activity, let the coach or instructor know of your condition.

Also make sure someone knows the location of your inhaler and whom to call in case of an emergency.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) has developed a new, free, easy-to-use online tool to help track your asthma symptoms.

Whether you’re training for the Olympics or simply trying to stay in shape, you can get access to detailed reports and statistics that will help you and your allergist best manage your condition.

With you can keep a daily log of exercise, symptoms, and medication use and create personalized, detailed reports and statistics that can be printed and shared with your allergist.

The tool is also accessible through mobile devices.

Most people with asthma have exercise-induced asthma, but it’s also possible to have exercise-induced asthma and not have asthma.

An allergist can diagnose and treat both conditions, and treatment will depend on how serious symptoms are and whether you have exercise-induced asthma with or without asthma.

Athletes with exercise-induced asthma can exercise safely by using the same bronchodilating drugs prescribed for asthma of other origins.

The ACAAI kicked off its annual Nationwide Asthma Screening Program in May.

This public service campaign, which is designed to identify adults and children who are at risk for undiagnosed or uncontrolled asthma, continues throughout the year.