The world of medicine and rehabilitation has greatly changed over the last 20 years. Today more than ever, we as physical therapists have more advanced technology and equipment at our disposal than any other time in history. I will tell anyone who asks that a big part of the reason I went into physical therapy was that working in a clinic is like getting to work in a toy store. I get to help clients (which is kind of like playing with your friends), and all my toys all day long. These advances have occurred for other medical practitioners as well, especially surgeons, and have led to shorter recovery times, improved outcomes and greater levels of health and wellness.
This most readily observed in the collegiate and professional athletes we cheer on every week. We have all heard the stories of Johnny All-American who tore his meniscus, had it scoped, and is now leading to his team to victory just 10 days later. This is the quintessential tale of American sports medicine. As a result, I often hear my patients say things like, “I just need to have (blank) done. That’s what Adrian Peterson had done, and now he’s doing great,” or “I had the same surgery as what they do for the guys in the NFL. Why haven’t I gotten better yet?”
While many of the advances that help elite athletes recover quickly have also helped the average person, it is important to note that the results may not be the same. There are several factors at play that allow the elite to experience the results they do:
- The God-given’s
These are the same things that allow elite athletes to run fast, jump high and have the agility of a panther. This is mostly genetic, but also relies on the fact that many of these people spend their entire day exercising and training to achieve peak physical form.
- Many treatments in sports medicine are band-aids
If you question the long-term effectiveness of the health care that athletes receive, then watch a video of William “the Fridge” Perry and watch how he walks today. Most athletes’ career will last 10 years on average. This means that missing even a single game can be severely detrimental to their ability to earn income. As a result procedures have been developed to drastically reduce recovery time and return these people to play as soon as possible. Often players are returned to play with a quick or temporary fix to delay the longer, more invasive treatments. Even with all this occurring, some athletes are still not having the optimum results.
- Consider both the successes and the failures
|Spine||Peyton Manning||Sterling Sharpe|
|Knee||Adrian Peterson||Marcus Lattimore|
|Shoulder||Drew Brees||Don Majkowski|
|Hip||Percy Harvin||Bo Jackson|
When the above cases are considered many people will likely consider themselves fortunate. While sports medicine and technology has progressed and created new levels of success for many elite athletes and average individuals, these procedures may not be appropriate for everyone. It is important to remember that there are many different “toys” in our toy box but not everyone will like the same toys. However, all of the toys have gotten better in recent years, and there are many different options to choose from.
Since Christmas is right around the corner, there are some toys that I would recommend as great gifts for all individuals. Many of these happen to be just like what the professional athletes use, which is just an added bonus. Consider some of the following as great gift options.
Foam Roller- Great for stretching out those “hard to stretch” muscles.
Stick- Portable stretching and massage aid. Great when you are on the go
Thera-Cane- Helps reach those “hard to get at” sore spots.