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Introduction

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Contrary to popular belief, there most certainly is an “I” in “team.” It is the same “I” that appears three times in “responsibility.”

Amber Harding

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One of the most challenging yet enjoyable aspects of sports medicine is involvement in team care. Working with a team provides opportunities to:

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  • belong to a team and share in its successes and failures

  • work closely with athletes on a regular basis

  • implement preventive strategies

  • manage acute injuries from the time of injury

  • closely monitor the progress of injuries

  • learn and develop decision-making skills in a competitive environment

  • work closely with other clinicians and disciplines and thereby develop your own skills (e.g. massage, nutrition advice)

  • liaise closely with coaching and fitness staff

  • better understand the demands of the particular sport

  • understand the psychological pressures on the players

  • fully appreciate the importance of team dynamics.

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Many of the skills gained in the team environment can be incorporated into everyday practice.

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The off-field team

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The size and make-up of the medical support team often depends on the size of the sporting team, the standard of competition, and financial considerations. Frequently, the support team will consist of just one individual, who may be either a physiotherapist, physician, massage therapist, or trainer. Specialists from various branches of medicine can contribute to the sports and exercise medicine team.13 A solo clinician should develop a network of supporting colleagues who can assist where additional specialized management is indicated.

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Support teams for professional sports often consist of representatives of different health disciplines. Whoever is responsible for assembling such a team must ensure that all the individuals have high professional standards and work well collectively.4 The ethical issues facing professional teams’ clinicians are different from those of volunteer clinicians’ (see also Chapter 67).58 If possible, the professional sporting team should have access to the services of a sports physician, physiotherapist, massage therapist, podiatrist, dietitian, psychologist, orthopedic surgeon, and sports trainer as well as the coaching and fitness staff. Clearly defining roles may help avoid conflict. Ideally, one member of this team should be the leader and take ultimate responsibility for difficult management decisions and the smooth running of the group.

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Coaching and fitness staff

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Clinicians caring for a team have multiple responsibilities. Although their primary responsibility is to the sportspeople, they also have responsibilities to the coach, the team management, and fellow support staff. Thus, the medical team should liaise closely with the coaching and fitness staff for the sportspeople’s benefit. Fitness staff should be included in the regular sports and exercise medicine team meetings to maintain a coordinated approach. This enables the clinicians and fitness staff to have input into injury prevention training programs (Chapter 9). It is particularly important that medical and fitness staff collaborate closely in ...

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