Trends in Sports Medicine: Q&A With AOSSM President Dr. Robert Stanton

Written by Laura Dyrda | July 22, 2010 | Print  |

As Americans continue to place a high emphasis on fitness and athletics, sports medicine centers have developed around the need for orthopedics and rehabilitation specialized for active patients and serious athletes. Robert A. Stanton, MD, is an orthopedic physician with Connecticut's Orhtopaedic Specialty Group who was recently named President of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine. Dr. Stanton discusses recent trends in sports medicine and important aspects for successful sports medicine practices.

Q: In your opinion, what does sports medicine encompass?

Dr. Robert Stanton: Sports medicine is really basic musculoskeletal orthopedics. To a great degree, it's general orthopedics with a twist. There's a lot of psychology. Sports are so important to some people. When they injure themselves, it's hard for them to think they'll be able to play at the level they were before. We have to help them understand they can do what they used to.

Q: What is unique about practicing sports medicine as opposed to general orthopedics?

RS: What makes sports medicine unique is that athletes of all ages have a tremendous desire to get better so they are usually very willing to participate in whatever it is they need to do in order to get better. The patients tend to be healthier, fitter people. They have a higher predictability for getting better.

Q: How can a new practice attract patients?

RS: You have to go and stand on the sidelines at Friday night football games, little league games, youth soccer groups. Eventually the work will come your way.

Q: What are the key attributes of a top sports medicine practice?

There are three things: availability, ability and affability. It helps to talk to people, to network in the community. It obviously is critical that you're good at what you do. But if you're not available, the athletes will go somewhere else. The coaches call all the time and you have to be available to them at all times, within reason.

Q: Is an ASC necessary for sports medicine centers?

RS: To build a sports medicine practice, an operating room is not necessary. Having an ASC is a huge benefit because you can do things so much more easily. But not everyone can have that.

Q: What are some challenges for sports medicine physicians?

RS: The biggest challenges are dealing with patients who have unrealistic goals. Young teenagers and college kids often think that they are invincible. The challenge is dealing with the physical and emotional strains of the injury. Sometimes with young kids, interacting with their parents is a challenge because they may expect their kids to earn college scholarships or become professional athletes. It's always a bad thing when you ask a question to the kid and the parent answers continually.

Q: Is there a difference between treating younger and older patients?

Older patients often have the same goals and return to sports as younger ones. They often have some degenerative changes in the joint as well as other medical issues. This must be taken into account when devising a treatment plan. But as the baby boomers are getting older, they aren't giving up anything. Sometimes an 80-year-old tennis player is just as difficult to deal with as a college basketball player. They have the same goal.

Q: What are some of the most common procedures you do?

RS: I primarily do knee surgery, arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery, removing pieces of torn meniscus, cartilage restoration, meniscal repairs. WE do a fair number for shoulder stabilization procedures, decompressions and labral repairs.

Q: What are some of the latest orthopedic surgical techniques?

The newer and continuously evolving techniques are restorative procedures. Additionally, there have been improved techniques in meniscal repair, cartilage restoration and more anatomic shoulder procedures. There are new ways of doing these procedures in Europe and South America that aren't approved by the FDA so we can't do them in the United States. I hope the future for orthopedics is biology, not technology.

Learn more about AOSSM.

Read more coverage on sports medicine:

- Hospital for Special Surgery's Women's Sports Medicine Center Focus on Unique Treatment for Female Athletes

- AOSSM Names Georgia's Dr. Champ Baker 'Mr. Sports Medicine'

- 5 Tips for Building a Successful Sports Medicine Center

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