As we near the end of the Olympic Games, here are a few thoughts about the experience. I always learn a lot working with these elite athletes. As much as individual events such as opening ceremonies or a specific gold medal performance are exciting, the really rewarding part of this experience is the routine, day-to-day activities as we work with the Olympic athletes.
Being around the athletes in Olympic Village provides a unique opportunity to learn how they prepare for competition, both physically and mentally, and to see the types of injuries that they incur. In our U.S. Olympic Committee medical clinic we see athletes from a wide variety of different sports, which has been very educational. I also have the opportunity to learn from other medical practitioners, such as physical therapists and athletic trainers, who have experience and expertise with specific sports and athletes. My job now is to translate this information to my own sports medicine practice to continually try to improve patient care.
Another thing that has been reinforced at the Olympics is that there are many areas where we as medical professionals do not know the optimal treatment regimen. As much as the knowledge base in sports medicine continues to expand at a rapid pace, basic unanswered questions remain. This points out the need for continued research, which I think is an important role for physicians. In fact, the outstanding questions in sports medicine are one of the primary factors that motivate me. We are always learning new ways to treat various conditions and ultimately improve patient care. That is what keeps this field so fun and interesting!
Dr. Scott Rodeo is an orthopedic surgeon and the co-chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. He serves as a Team Physician for U.S.A. Olympic Swimming.