As an athlete dealing with an injury, it can be a lot more difficult than anyone thinks. As a health care professional, you need a team to work together to ensure the best and fastest care of this athlete to make their ride through the healing process a little easier. Some people may ask what the healing process of an injury is. An injury is not only the anatomy of it, but the psychological aspect as well. This ideal team should consist of Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, Psychologists, and sometimes Orthopedic doctors or other specialists.
My major here at Plymouth State University is one that not too many people know about, but ties most of the athletes’ needs throughout the healing process together. My major here is call Pre-Physical Therapy and combines Athletic Training, Physical Education, Health, and Biology all together. All of these disciplines come together to make a full understanding of what the athlete is going through when they get injured from the Anatomy and Physiology part to the rehab, to the return to play and even to the mental part that not too many people think about. It is really important that someone working with athletes has a complete understanding of all of these different disciplines to make sure the athlete has a quick and easy journey through the healing process and is not just looking at it from one side.
For my project, I made a website that ties all of the disciplines from my major together. This website can be used by an Athletic Trainer that needs a refresher on specific things such as a special tests or someone who wants to simply self-diagnose an injury they have and learn how to tape or rehab it. The website I created is a very easy to navigate website that has many special tests to diagnose an injury, all the injuries that have the common mechanism, pathology of the injury, preventions and complications, it tells you how to tape an injury for a possible pain-free return to play or possible prevention from the injury happening again, some rehab activities to strengthen specific muscles around the injury, and it tells some common psychological effects an injury can have on an athlete. This website ties a lot together that I believe you need to know from the start of when the athlete gets injured to the full return to play for the athlete.
An injured athlete is very complex because of all of the disciplines you have to draw together to make a fast and easy return to play process for them. You cannot just look at an injured athlete from an Anatomy and Physiology side and say what structures are affected. You need to bring in the Athletic Training aspect to figure out what is actually wrong by doing special tests, then the Anatomy and Physiology side to say what structure is actually affected. You also need to look at it again from the Athletic Training part and figure out different taping techniques you can do to return the athlete to play, decreasing some of their pain or trying to prevent it from happening again. The Physical Therapy aspect is also a very important part because you really need to rehab an injury to get it back up to its full ability, if not stronger, so it is not going to happen again. It is then very important to think of what the athlete is going through mentally, which is where the Psychologist comes into play. This process is very compound and should not and could not be looked at from only one discipline. If it were looked at from only one side, you would not be able to comprehensively heal this athlete properly.
There are other disciplines out there that you could potentially look at when looking at an injured athlete such as an Exercise Physiologist, Kinesiology Specialist, Nutritionist, or even a specialized surgeon. These disciplines can all bring something to the table when looking at an injured athlete that no one else can. But, when narrowing it down and looking at what is really relevant to the topic at hand: an injured athlete, I believe that the most relevant topics are Anatomy and Physiology, Athletic Training, Physical Therapy and Psychology. When looking at the potentially relevant topics to bring to an injured athlete, you are not just completely forgetting about those disciplines. In a way, those potentially relevant topics are intertwined within Athletic Training and Physical Therapy, they are just not as commonly used.
Looking at the relevant disciplines, there could definitely be some conflicts between them. One of the major conflicts that you may find when dealing with an injured athlete will be between the Athletic Trainer and the Physical Therapist. Another major conflict that you may find is the Psychologist against the Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist.
The Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist will mostly have conflicts about what to do with the athlete for rehab based on conservative or vigorous treatment and when to start and end the treatment. This is not going to be a huge conflict, but the Athletic Trainer’s mindset is to return the player back to play as soon as possible, where the Physical Therapist wants to make sure that the athlete is 100% healed and at full strength, no matter how long it takes.
The Psychologist will also have a conflict with both the Athletic Trainer and the Physical Therapist based on if the athlete is ready to return to play mentally. When an athlete gets hurt, Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists do not really think about what the athletes are thinking mentally, but more about how they are feeling physically. After an athlete gets injured, thoughts run through their minds such as thinking that they will they never be back to full potential, asking if their dreams are still achievable with this injury or what if they re-injure more seriously, so they start to compensate. These are all things Psychologists take into consideration before allowing the athlete to return to play so they will not hurt themselves even more or get depressed and play while scared. Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists are aware of this, but are not properly trained to handle it. This will cause a little bit of a conflict when returning the athlete to play, due to the fact that the Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists are ready to send the athlete onto the field whether or not the athlete is mentally ready.
This whole interdisciplinary problem has really challenged and changed my view on a lot of things, but especially the healing process of an injury for an athlete. Looking at this process from many different disciplines really puts the return to play for an athlete in perspective as a whole. At first I only thought that the healing process for an athlete was just the Athletic Trainer diagnosing, taping, rehabbing and dealing with some mental problems, but it is so much more than just an Athletic Trainer that is needed for a complete and full recovery. Working with an athlete as just an Athletic Trainer you will have unavoidable bias that may challenge the return to play process.
This entire project has really opened my eyes to not only the healing process of an athlete being interdisciplinary but many different problems and scenarios. Many, if not most things you encounter in life, you have to look at from more than one discipline to resolve the problem or answer the question to get a well-rounded answer that avoids any bias.
I believe that it is very important to look at things from many different views before forming an opinion or answer and without this class or this project, I would not have been able to realize this. I will carry this type of viewing with me throughout my life and I believe it will make me more knowledgeable and more complex as a person.