Sports Medicine

By Paul ThompsonThis is ______________.And this is ___________, with the VOA Special English program, SCIENCE IN THE NEWS. Today, we tell about sports medicine and its influence on the recent Olympic games in Sydney, Australia.

Sports medicine is the part of the medical profession that provides health care for people who take part in physical training or sports. The purpose of sports medicine is to reduce the chance of injury and to effectively treat injuries that do happen. Sports medicine has become a special part of medicine, and a very important part of modern sports.

Each year thousands of Americans are treated in hospitals for injuries suffered while playing basketball. Thousands more were hurt or injured riding bicycles or playing football. Injuries happen in almost any sport.Modern sports medicine combines many different kinds of knowledge to help train and care for people who take part in sports.

A sports medicine doctor must understand general medicine. The doctor must also understand sports training and the athletes' thoughts and feelings involved in that training.

Experts in sports medicine design sports equipment and ways to use it to get the best effects. Sports medicine doctors also learn how to treat the many different kinds of injuries caused by sports. These include broken bones, and damaged muscles and joints. A sports medicine doctor provides the medical care necessary to heal an injured player as quickly as possible. The doctor also must take the steps necessary to prevent a repeat of the injury.Sports medicine has taught the medical profession much about injuries and diseases that affect the body's bones, muscles and joints. Sports medicine experts also have been active in designing modern tables and chairs that can stop the development of physical problems linked to work. One such condition is carpal tunnel syndrome. It is a nerve problem caused by using a typewriter or computer hour after hour.

Sports medicine experts also have used their knowledge of training to help people who have suffered heart attacks. The sports medicine experts have designed training methods to help heart attack victims regain their health.

(((MUSIC BRIDGE)))Athletes at the recent Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia set many new World and Olympic records. This happens at each Olympic games. New records also are set every few years in other international competitions. The athletes usually swim faster, run faster and jump higher or farther than athletes did before. They seem to make the human body perform better than ever. Sports medicine experts help many of these athletes train.

That training has greatly improved over the years. Examples can be seen by comparing performances at Olympic games. American swimmer Harry Habner won the one-hundred meter backstroke at the Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden in Nineteen-Twelve. His winning time was one-minute, twenty-one seconds and twenty one-hundredths of a second.At the recent summer games in Sydney, Australia, American swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg won the Gold Medal and set a new Olympic Record for the same event. His time was fifty-three-seconds and seventy-two one-hundredths of a second. All the swimmers competing in the final event finished faster that the winning swimmer in Nineteen-Twelve.

The human body did not change between Nineteen-Twelve and today. The main reason for the difference between these two athletes' winning times is sports medicine and the way it has changed sports training.American swimmer Amy Van Dyken won four Gold Medals at the Nineteen-Ninety-Six Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. She won two Gold Medals at the recent games in Sydney. She has trained for both Olympic Games at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in the Western state of Colorado.

Before the games in Atlanta, experts recorded Van Dyken's swim training with special underwater television cameras. The recordings showed that she dropped her elbows too low in the water when she was tired.

This greatly slowed her speed. Van Dyken said it was a mistake she had been making for seven years. She said learning to swim her races without making this mistake was the reason for her success at the Atlanta Games.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Sports medicine experts are deeply concerned about training. They do research to find better and safer methods of training athletes. Many top athletes break bones or damage muscles in training or during contests. Sports medicine tries to limit these injuries.

For example, Mary Lou Retton won a Gold Medal in Gymnastics at the Nineteen-Eight-Four Olympics in Los Angeles, California. She earned two perfect scores on the vaulting device. That is the piece of equipment from which gymnasts throw their bodies into the air.Sometimes they turn their bodies many times before landing on their feet. Retton won her Gold Medal only six weeks after an emergency operation to repair a damaged knee. Sports medicine training methods were used to speed her recovery.

Later, Mary Lou Retton wrote a book about her experience as a top athlete. She wrote about living with pain while training for international athletic events.

She also told how she continued to perform her sport when injured. Sports medicine experts have become increasingly concerned about very young women like Retton who take part in the sport of gymnastics.Sports medicine research shows that many top female gymnasts train more than forty hours each week. Many are twelve years old or younger. Experts say they are just beginning to learn the effects of such difficult physical training on young people.

They say this kind of extreme training may produce long lasting damage to the bones of young women. It may also produce other long lasting medical problems.

Many of the young girls who take part in gymnastics must control their weight. It becomes difficult or impossible to perform many of their required activities in gymnastics if a person weighs too much.

One study shows that as a result, many of these young women do not eat the foods their bodies need for normal growth. Many are small and weigh far less than other girls their age.The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine is a professional group of sports medicine doctors. The group says there is not yet enough information about the effects of this kind of hard training on young women. The group says the main concern is the health of young bones. The Society says that broken bones in the back and legs are common among female gymnasts.

A spokeswoman for the Society says that sports medicine experts have found three major areas of concern for young women. They are eating problems, poor bone growth and a halt to young women's menstrual periods.A study of young women shows that as many as sixty-two percent of female athletes may suffer from eating problems. This lack of good food is a major case of poor bone growth and bones that can break easily.

Sports medicine experts say the very hard training of female athletes is the cause of the problem with their menstrual periods. They say normal menstrual periods return when the hard training stops. The experts say they do not believe this causes permanent damage.

All sports medicine experts agree that much more research needs to be done about the long-lasting effects of extremely hard training on all athletes.

Athletes and sports medicine experts all know there will be some danger of physical damage when a person plays a sport. Athletes accept this risk to play the sport. They know that correct training combined with expert medical care can lessen the risk of serious injury. As more is understood about the human body, changes in training and medicine are expected to continue reducing this risk.

()This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS program was written by Paul Thompson. This is _____________.And this is ___________. Join us again next week for more news about science, in Special English, on the Voice of America.