The 2014 commonwealth games is coming to a close within the next few days. The Glasgow platform has provided some amazing sporting outcomes and a great experience for athletes, team officials, and Clydesiders alike. As part of the medical services, working in the polyclinic has given me a taste of the multi-sport elite level competition, and whilst it is hard work, it’s certainly something I have thoroughly enjoyed.
I have learnt a lot from being in the polyclinic environment and working alongside some fantastic physiotherapists over the past two weeks. When an athlete is injured, they usually transferred to the polyclinic, from the field of play, to receive world-class treatment. However, what happens when the athletes doesn’t listen?
A netball player presented to the polyclinic with an acute ankle sprain, 2 days previously, she sprained her ankle competing. Treatment was provided to aid recovery but as part of my assessment, I enquired as to when she was competing next, the reply I received was ‘5pm today’.
As physiotherapists, we naturally want to promote activity and sports participation, but sometimes the body needs time to heal. The athlete always wants to play and the coach always wants their best players fit for action. The difficulty comes when the coach is present to hear your opinion about an injury or doesn’t choose to hear it.
I advised the netball player that should not play on her ankle in its current state, despite the fact that she had a game that afternoon, and this is why.
The tissues within the body are maintained in homeostasis through training and competing. The tissues and structures in the body are pushed into ‘supraphysiological overload zone’ when competing, which means that are optimised within the ‘Envelope of Function’. When these tissues are overloaded beyond the ‘Envelope of Function’, i.e an injury occurs, then tissues fail and break or rupture. due to injury, the envelope of function is reduced and tissue homeostasis is disrupted.
What this means in the context of the athlete competing, is that they have a reduced physiological ability to perform to their highest level, which would be needed at an international event like the Commonwealth Games. If the athletes does compete with a reduced ‘Envelope of Function’, then they risk further injury as the tissues get overloaded beyond the envelope sooner. The cycle of boom and bust can re-occur until the tissue is given sufficient time to heal and repair to restore tissue homeostasis.
1) Communicating the importance of tissue healing to athletes is difficult but needs to be emphasised to avoid boom and bust cycle of injury.
2) Communicating the outcomes of clinical assessments to the athletes medical team should be done immediately to discuss return to competition but athletes want to play and coaches want their best players available for selection, so getting this message through can be difficult.
3) Treatment of injuries should be looked at in the short-term and long-term outcomes with the athlete at the centre of the treatment goals
1) Dye SF. The pathophysiology of patellofemoral pain: a tissue homeostasis perspective. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2005; 436:100-110.