Sports medicine is a discipline of medicine which takes care of the treatment and prevention as well as the recovery and rehabilitation of injuries associated with athletics and physical exertion. The scope of the discipline is vast and covers various aspects of physical activity and health. Sports medicine thus includes exercise science, pedagogy, physiotherapy, sport and training psychology, injury management and prevention, rehabilitation and pre-hospital care. There are also special courses provided by colleges and universities for students who aspire to become sports medicine specialists. These include Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine (BSMS) and Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy (BST).
One of the numerous specialties associated with sports medicine is an association called the National Athletic League (NFL) Sports Medicine. The association is responsible for the licensing, supervision and payment of athletic trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists and other doctors who work in hospitals, clinics and schools involved in the NFL. Another association is the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), an organization that provides certifications, educational information and guidelines to athletes and sport athletes. Other associations include Association of College Athletes in Medicine (ACAM), American College of Surgeons Sports Medicine (ACSMM) and American Sports Medicine Association (ASMAA).
Students looking to pursue a career in sports medicine must complete a form called the National Certification Exam for Sports Medicine (NCESM). This exam is available from many colleges and universities and can be taken in between two to five years. The NCESM contains multiple sections including physiology, diagnostic procedures, therapeutic areas and law and ethics. Students need to pass this exam before they can apply for licenses. To be eligible for the exam, one needs to have completed at least two years of a degree from an accredited university or college.
The next subspecialty within sports medicine is orthopedics. Orthopedists are doctors who treat patients with musculoskeletal issues including pain, fractures, trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system such as the spine and shoulder. They perform diagnostic, therapeutic and orthotic surgeries and treatments. They also oversee rehabilitation and therapy. These doctors have a Masters Degree in orthopedics and usually go on to obtain either a Doctor of Osteopathy or a Bachelor of Osteopathy.
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in sports health care. Their primary function is to treat physical problems of the foot and ankle through surgery, diagnostic procedures, treatments and medications. A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine is typically required to obtain their license after completing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college and undergoing five years of specialized training. A Doctor of Podiatric Surgery is also typically required to complete two years of specialized training and to obtain their license after completing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college and passing a licensing exam.
Chiropractors are trained and educated to treat ailments of the musculoskeletal system through manipulative therapy. This includes spinal manipulation and orthopedic procedures like x-rays, ultrasound, electrotherapy, electric stimulation and manual techniques. A Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine is required to obtain their license after four years of specialized study and to have passed the national board exam for chiropractors. To become a chiropractor, you must also pass a professional chiropractic examination.
Prenatal and infant chiropractic care is considered a specialty. A Doctor of Prenatal and Infant Chiropractic Medicine is required to obtain their license after five years of post-graduate training and to have passed the NCLEX-PT exam. After this, you will be able to treat not only pregnant women but also women experiencing pregnancy-related conditions such as preeclampsia, hypertension, ovarian cysts, placental growths and many more.
Finally, a Sport and Exercise Physician perform an entire range of tasks that are related with physical therapy, sports medicine and rehabilitation. In the UK, there is a separate division for sports medicine called the National Institute for Sports Medicine. There, you can train as a sports medicine physician. As a sports medicine doctor, your main job may be to perform clinical and diagnostic tests and treatments as part of your job. However, you can also use this specialization to conduct research and serve as an education and communication specialist for the sport industry.