Truthfully, working with the USA Olympic team, in any capacity, seems like an absolute dream! Can you imagine, elite athletes, completely devoted, with an “every day is game day” mentality?
For most orthopedic clinicians, we won’t make it to this setting. And that is fine! We have the opportunity to help athletes, whether they are professionals or weekend warriors, reach their full rehab potential.
With that being said, we’ve brainstormed some best practices for working with athletes.
Listen, listen, and listen some more.
Athletes and performers often have excellent body awareness and can pinpoint the origin of pain.
2. Let athletes help with goal setting. What’s important to clinicians isn’t always important to the patient.
Their goal may not be gold, it might be participation.
3. Look above and below.
No body part works independently so why do we treat them as if it does?
I spent three years working for Cirque du Soleil. I feel strongly that what made me stand out in that setting was my ability to develop a pathoanatomical diagnosis. Finding the source of pain, treating it, and addressing issues above and below the source that were compensating.
So while we write our notes and daydream of working with Olympians, let's not forget the impact we have on athletes around us. And who knows…….that high school snowboarder recovering from ACL reconstruction might just be the next Shaun White.