SJL New Orleans, July 2017

Page 32

women’s health Dr.Beth Scherer,DC Rediscover… Chiropractor Acupuncturist

Tulane Women’s Sports Medicine fills needs of often-overlooked female athletes by Lee J. Green

New patients receive First Acupuncture Treatment $35

(Normally $55. Additional Services at Established Rates.)

2031 B Cahaba Road Mountain Brook, AL (205) 967-6776

Metairie Oncologists Jayne Gurtler, MD • Laura A Brinz, MD & Janet A Burroff, MD

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720 23rd Street South, Birmingham (205) 323.7582 • 32 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017

The goal of the newly formed Women’s Sports Medicine clinic at the Tulane Institute of Sport Medicine is to provide active women with not just injury treatment but prevention. Dr. Mary Mulcahey was recruited from Philadelphia to start the program earlier this spring. “Our overarching goal is to provide comprehensive care — not just treating injuries, but prevention and looking at all aspects of sports health, fitness as well as training,” she said. “Women are at risk for injuries and conditions that may be overlooked in a traditional sports medicine setting. They also respond and heal differently than men, and they have different concerns when they are injured,” she said. It is perhaps more widely known that female athletes in some sports, especially gymnastics and running, are at risk for the “female athlete triad”: disordered eating, irregular menses (loss of periods) and decreased bone density. “Our team knows the signs and how to prevent or treat these symptoms,” said Mulcahey. Likely less known is that women are anywhere from two to eight times more at risk for ACL tears of the knee than men playing the same sports. That is due to both non-modifiable risk factors, such as knee geometry and hormones, and modifiable biomechanical and neuromuscular risk factors. In the biological category, the ACL is smaller in women than men and more susceptible to injury. Hormonal factors and changes throughout the menstrual cycle can also play a role in the higher likelihood of ACL tears in women. The modifiable risk factors include the fact that female athletes tend to land more commonly in a “knock-kneed position,” especially in sports such as basketball and volleyball. The quadriceps muscles are stronger than the hamstring muscles in women. The quads pull the tibia toward the front, which puts more stress on the ACL, increasing the likelihood of tear. “Through training and learned behavior these are things that can be corrected, thus lessening the risk for serious injury,” said Mulcahey. She said stress fractures are also much more common in female athletes than male athletes because of a combination of factors — exercise impact, biomechanics, hormonal and nutrition-related factors. Also more common with active women are patellofemoral pain syndrome, ankle sprains and osteoarthritis. “In addition to injury prevention or perhaps in combination with it, strength and conditioning is also critical to decrease the risk of injuries. Some specific categories of exercises that are included in injury prevention programs are plyometrics, balance, strengthening the core and proximal control.” When should young female athletes start with some of these risk-prevention protocols? Mulcahey said waiting until age 16 to 18 years old is too late. Girls should start these exercises in middle school, before they hit puberty and have the associated growth spurt. “I also recommend incorporating cross-training. I encourage my patients not to focus only on their primary sport, but to incorporate other low-impact cardiovascular exercises (such as stationary bike, elliptical machine, swimming) into their training to allow their body to rest. That’s better on the body and will promote better performance,” she said. Mulcahey added that the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine, along with its other Tulane medical partners, is focusing on the entire spectrum of active female health, including orthopaedic care, physical therapy, nutrition, sports psychology, OBGYN and female gastrointestinal care. “We want to offer a comprehensive approach to wellness that in our case focuses specifically on the active woman,” she said.

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