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[EDITOR'S NOTES]

When to Let Your Patient Back Into the Game

THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 24 - NO. 4 - APRIL 96


One of the most important decisions we make as sports physicians is when to let a patient get back into practice and competition after an injury or illness. If too soon, the patient can get hurt again—maybe worse. If too late—like "take a few months off and then come back and see me"—we are not really fulfilling our job requirements.

Fortunately, in this issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine, several articles deal clearly with this question. For example, when recovering from infectious mononucleosis, when is it okay to return to activity? According to author E. Randy Eichner, MD, the patient must feel good again. Eichner points out in "Infectious Mononucleosis: Recognizing the Condition, 'Reactivating' the Patient" that the spleen must return to normal size so it doesn't get ruptured.

Acute abdominal pain can be a particular problem in the sports setting. Arriving at a clear diagnosis without access to tests and specialists is a challenge, and the pressure is on to return the athlete to play. See "Assessing Acute Abdominal Pain: A Team Physician's Challenge," by Roy T. Bergman, MD.

How about a fairly loud systolic heart murmur in a 20-year-old male? He's had it for years; no worries, right? He's made it this far so chances are he'll be okay through college competition, right? You decide. See "Can This College Athlete Compete?," the ECG Quiz by John D. Cantwell, MD.

And finally, Magic Johnson is back in competition. Why now? He dropped out of professional basketball several years ago after he announced that he tested positive for HIV. Is he better now? He is older. Can he expect to get his strength and conditioning back, despite the infection? Will activity make his T-cell count worse or better? See our News Brief. And maybe some answers to these complicated issues will help you treat the next patient who walks through your door.

Cordially,
Richard H. Strauss, MD
Editor-in-Chief


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