Monday, April 4, 2011

Listen – it’s your body, not mine.

I have sat through a number of clinic visits and physician’s visits since becoming an Athletic Trainer. There is one thing that has always entered my mind when I sit in the office with my student athletes.

Where is the communication?

I have listened to copious amounts of talking by the physician and not much by the athlete. After the visit is over the athlete usually starts firing off one question after the other on the way out the physician’s office.

In the past, it was accepted that whatever a physician said was the end all be all. If the physician said, “take two of these and call me in the morning,” that’s what you did and you didn’t question it. For example, I had an athlete that had a visit with a soft tissue specialist. I was not able to go with the athlete, but I have worked with the soft tissue specialist in the past – so I knew I would get details from the visit one way or another. However, when the athlete returned from the visit he could tell me nothing about it. I asked what he did and the athlete could not tell me anything!

I have been an advocate of being an informed patient since I have been an Athletic Trainer. I don’t expect you do be able to recite Gray’s Anatomy or have a detailed Biomechanics lecture after a visit with the physician - but you can’t exit the room and just say “I am not sure what he just did.”

As an athlete, at any level, you need to have an understanding of what the physician is talking about when it comes to your health and well-being. Ask the essential questions. What? Why? How? What can I do? Why did you give me this pill? What’s it going to do? Don’t sit back and just accept what the physician has to say. I am not saying you have to challenge the physician’s recommendations, but get the reasons behind why they recommend it.

Be an informed patient – it will help you out in the long run.

Chris Ham, MSA, ATC, CES
Athletic Trainer
Vanderbilt University Baseball

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