Apr 13, 2021
Michigan’s MedSport At Front Lines for Female Athletes

As more females participate in sports, more are experiencing sports-related injuries. MedSport, Michigan Medicine’s multidisciplinary sports medicine program, is at the forefront of providing specialized care that keeps pace with their unique needs.

According to research, 37 percent of women exercise or play sports at least once a week — whether that’s recreationally or elite competition.

A recent article from the University of Michigan’s health blog highlighted the work that’s taking place on campus.

Below is an excerpt from that article.

Eileen Crawford, M.D. cared for patient Nicole Hughes when she tore her ACL in 2019. (Photo Courtesy Univ. of Michigan).

Eileen Crawford, assistant professor of Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine and part of the MedSport team, and Kristen Schuyten, PT, DPT, SCS, MS, CSCS, MedSport physical therapist, are leading the effort at MedSport to tailor diagnostic, treatment, and rehabilitation services to the needs of female patients, and to educate athletes, parents and their colleagues in sports medicine.

“Female athletes face different medical conditions and are more susceptible to certain injuries than their male counterparts,” says Crawford. “One size fits all sports medicine isn’t good enough.”

Schuyten agrees. “We need a more targeted approach for female athletes – and more female providers involved in their care – to help offer the most effective, holistic care possible.”

Females are making great strides in their quest for equality in the field of sport. But for medical providers, it is important to distinguish between offering everyone equal access to care regardless of gender, which is essential, and providing everyone the exact same care, which is an outdated approach.

Some injuries are more common in predominantly female sports. Shoulder injuries resulting from ‘windmill pitching’ in softball are one example. Similarly, certain injuries and conditioning challenges are common in sports like gymnastics, cheerleading, and figure skating, and in physically demanding performing arts like dance, and these activities tend to skew female. Schuyten, a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science and the U.S. Figure Skating Association medical team, specializes in treating these patients.

» ALSO SEE: Study — Ball Adjustment Could Reduce Head Injury Risk in Soccer Players

Females have different anatomical, musculoskeletal and reproductive physiology. Tears in the knee’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are common sports injuries for both men and women. “But many people are surprised to learn that factors including hormonal changes, muscle activation patterns, and limb alignment in relation to the pelvis put women at greater risk of ACL injury than men,” explains Schuyten.

To read the full story from the University of Michigan health blog, click here

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