In the past, when I’d tell people that I practice sports medicine,
the first thing they’d ask me is, “What’s that?”
Now, people still give me quizzical looks, but the questions they pepper
me with are all about prevention, concussions, strains, sprains and fractures.
Sports has a unique ability to unite, and sports medicine unites doctors,
patients, coaches, parents and physical therapists like no other field
of medicine I’ve seen. As I walk through the halls at our Hoag Medical
Group offices in Irvine, other family practitioners will sideline me with
questions about managing care for patients who have non-surgical musculoskeletal issues.
These are healthy people, for the most part, who suffered sports- or “weekend
warrior” related injuries and want to get back on their feet as
quickly as possible.
Like any good teammate, I’m ready to assist. The extensive training
in injury prevention and rehabilitation that my field provides positions
sports medicine doctors like me to help in all aspects of care. If a child
broke his leg on the playground 20 years ago, for instance, the quality
of treatment would have varied wildly depending upon who treated him.
Today, sports medicine provides a standard of care that informs how injuries
are treated and prevented.
We work with the approximately 90 percent of all sports injuries that are
non-surgical in nature, and we work closely with orthopedic surgeons and
other physicians to manage everything from strains to injury prevention
to concussions to pain management.
In fact, the “team” nature of sports medicine is why I went
into this field.
I come from a family of doctors who are deeply devoted to public health
and public service. My mother is the executive director of Latino Health
Access, which combats public health issues in underserved areas, and my
father was a family doctor whose practice provided access to treatment
to low-income HIV/AIDS patients. Throughout medical school, I knew assisting
my community would be my primary goal.
To me, sports and sports medicine is a natural way to connect. As a shy
kid, sports gave me a way to build community. My parents moved us from
Venezuela to Ann Arbor Michigan when I was three before eventually settling
us here in Orange County when I was nine. Through all the changes, sports
provided me with a connection.
Today I get to connect while assisting as the Tustin High School team doctor
and I proudly and happily support my fellow physicians whenever they have
questions about exercise and injury management.
Sports has had a profound impact on my life, and I see how staying active
and playing sports creates friendships, grows confidence, and builds overall
skills in all my patients. Sports encourages each of us to excel through
teamwork, a spirit that extends to sports medicine as well.
Working together with other primary care physicians and specialists, sports
medicine can be an important part of every active patient’s care.
Now when I tell people what I do, they have a pretty good idea.
From injury prevention, to recovery, we help patients directly and support
fellow doctors as they devise the game plan that will help their patients
get back in the game safer, healthier and faster.