Sports Medicine, or What to Do (Before and) after You Hit the Wall


Dr. Marnie Vanden Noven of the Department of Sport Science at Belmont began last night’s Seminar by asking this hard-working group of Scholars “What do you play?” Some answered with sports and some with music, but whatever the activity, Dr. Vanden Noven emphasized that “play will make everything easier,” from academic work to relationships.

Of course, play among children can lead to injuries (especially when adults get involved!), and Dr. Vanden Noven discussed the most likely scenarios that produce injuries.  She then gave the Scholars a definition of Sports Medicine: “a multi-disciplinary approach to health management including physiological, biomechanical, psychological, and pathological phenomena associated with exercise and sports” which “generally focuses on areas of performance enhancement, injury care, prevention, and management.”

Dr. Vanden Noven then showed some videos that explained how sport science research can help with the prevention of injuries. One video demonstrated the difference between a baseball player hitting a padded wall vs. hitting a part of the wall without padding. Another discussed the prevalence of injuries of both football and soccer players when competing on artificial turf. She then asked the Scholars to think about a case study in which a high school basketball player had been injured on an improperly prepared court, and then was injured further when, dazed from her head injury, she fell off a training table. Who had been most responsible–the athlete? the coaches? the athletic trainer? her teammates? the school?

For the final portion of the Seminar, Dr. Vanden Noven divided students into groups and had them practice applying elastic wrap in spiral and figure-eight patterns to each others’ forearms and hands (click on images to enlarge). The Scholars found it challenging to get the correct tension while wrapping in a pattern that would provide the most support.

Then, for the “shocking” finale, she broke out a small Neuromuscular Electric Stimulator, which she used to cause her volunteer to (involuntarily) raise and lower her arm and turn her wrist. These tools and many more help athletic trainers and physical therapists restore movement and confidence for people who have suffered losses from illness or injury.

Dr. Vanden Noven closed by encouraging interested Scholars to find out more by doing research as well as just by observing what athletic trainers do. “Whatever you end up doing for a living,” she told the scholars, “pick something that feels like play to you. It will make all the difference.”


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