Sports medicine advances have changed the athletic landscape and allowed athletes with significant injuries to get back in the game sooner than was previously possible. Those advances could also impact the care people receive from their everyday physicians, especially in orthopedics and rehabilitation medicine.
The same methods that allow professional athletes to get back on the field—such as ACL reconstruction or, in the case of Tiger Woods, spine surgery—also give primary care patients the opportunity to return to work, play with their children, or continue their grind as weekend warriors.
Charla R. Fischer, MD, spine surgeon at NYU Langone’s Spine Center and associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, often uses sports figures in conversations with patients to confront the mental hurdles associated with spine procedures. “Having examples like Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning who returned to the peak of their respective sports after spine surgery helps prove the point that spine surgery isn’t the end,” she says.