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Keeping Pace With Today's Active Women

Julie Colliton, MD

THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 24 - NO. 7 - JULY 96


If every other patient who walked through your office door were an elite marathoner, you would do everything possible to hone your skills at treating this population. You would assiduously study the sport, the inherent stresses involved, typical physical characteristics of endurance athletes, and common running injuries.

Of course, few physicians, if any, have such a practice. But female patients probably do make up 50% of your caseload. And as girls and women get more involved in sports at all levels, from softball leagues to the Olympics, primary physicians would do well to sharpen their skills at diagnosing and treating this group with the same zeal as in the improbable scenario above.

Which is what this issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine is all about. We believe that a forum solely for treating active women is long overdue, and our discussion relies on a simple premise: A woman conditioning at the same level as a man may well have different needs and problems than he has. What's more, the needs of active women—as a group and individually—vary widely, and this special issue reflects that variety. Each article and patient handout explores a unique facet of care, from musculoskeletal injuries to genitourinary problems to disordered eating to pregnancy to fitness.

That The Physician and Sportsmedicine has devoted an entire issue to this topic reflects just how far women have come physically—and how strong the call is for sports medicine physicians to be attuned to women's ever-changing needs. As this month's Olympic Games demonstrate, girls and women continue to reach new heights athletically. The 1996 Games will feature more female athletes (about 3,800, compared with about 3,000 in 1992 in Barcelona), and more women's sports (softball, soccer, mountain biking, and beach volleyball are new) than in any previous Olympics.

The growth in female athletics is maybe even more apparent at your local high school or playground—or in your waiting room. We hope this special issue will help heighten awareness of active women's needs and spawn more research and publication in this key area. But primarily we hope it helps you in treating the next female patient who walks through your door. Clinical sports medicine needs to keep pace with today's increasingly active woman.

Dr Colliton is a physiatrist with Denver Spine & Rehabilitation Center in Denver. She is a member of the Women's Sports Medicine Committee of the American College of Sports Medicine and a team physician for the US Disabled Ski Team.


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