Inside Scope on Medical Truths: Professional Athlete Injuries


Donya Forst

Donya Forst, Print Editor

When we were younger, or maybe even still now as we get older and closer to beginning our careers, we thought it would be the coolest thing to be a sports trainer or work in a hospital when a professional athlete comes in and needs to be treated. But why do we do this? Are we basically wishing ill upon them just so we can be fortunate enough to provide them with care? Are they any more of a person than a child who fell on the playground and broke his arm?

We should be just as excited to help people who come into a hospital every day. In fact, when that professional athlete comes in, we shouldn’t treat him or her any differently. Sure, maybe they are exemplary or have certain talents that make them great athletes, but we as medical professionals have certain skills that make us exemplary as well.

It seems like you can’t turn on the TV to watch a sporting event without seeing at least one serious injury during the span of a game. Whether it’s football, baseball, soccer, or any other sport, there’s always someone going off the field on a cart to the locker room  – or a local hospital – while all their teammates can do from the sidelines is pray that the player is going to be okay. We as medical professionals have to learn how to treat them.

Concussions used to be the big thing in football, but new National Football League NFL rules and regulations may prevent, or at least limit them from happening. More recent injuries involve the neck and back, broken bones, and muscle, tendon, and ligament damage. That leads to the question: By implementing rules to prevent certain injuries, is the NFL causing others?

In just the past couple of weeks, injuries have plagued many National Football League, Major League Baseball, and soccer stars. During week eight of the NFL, a number of players were seriously hurt, including Andrew Luck (fractured ribs), Le’Veon Bell (torn MCL), Ryan Fitzpatrick (torn ligament in his thumb), Brian Hartline (concussion), Steve Smith (torn Achilles), Keenan Allen (lacerated kidney), Reggie Bush (torn MCL), Ricardo Lockette (ligament damage in neck), and Khiry Robinson (fractured tibia). Other notable NFL injuries this season includeTony Romo (broken collarbone), Dez Bryant (broken foot), Jamaal Charles (torn ACL), Arian Foster (Achilles tendon rupture), and Lance Dunbar (torn ACL and partially torn MCL).

Most of these injuries are are season-ending and require surgery. Some could even be considered career-ending. Fractured bones can take at the least four to six weeks to heal, depending on where they are and the severity of the fracture, and fractures that require  surgery can take even longer. Torn ligaments and muscles need surgery, and the recovery time is a lot longer than one season. Concussions and injuries to the neck can end players’ careers because they fear that if they step out onto that field again, it could be the last time.

More rules doesn’t really sound like a proper solution, because if you limit the types of tackles players can make, you are, in turn, limiting the game and making it less interesting to watch, even though rules may limit injuries. However, there really is no way to completely eliminate them. There is always going to be a level of play that presents risk. No amount of pre-season training, preparation or rule implementation will change that. Injuries are a part of the game and all medical professionals can do is treat them and help them get back to the game they love.

So, just for a moment, when they are there lying in bed in a terrible place thinking their careers could be coming to a sharp and sudden end, stop and think for a second. Maybe you’re the lucky one. While we are busy fawning over them and thinking they are extraordinary, maybe they are thinking that about us, too.