Tennis. Basketball. Football. Swimming. While these sports are quite different in strategy and objective, they all share one common feature: the risk of injury. In the US alone, over three million children and teens are injured in sports-related accidents. Whether the playing field is professional or recreational, sports medicine remains one of the most integral components of all modern athletic endeavors. Sports medicine makes sports possible for everyone, from childhood teammates to famed and celebrated athletes. Recently, the field of sports medicine has stepped into the spotlight in professional athletics, the media, and even our Big Red community.
Just last week, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made headlines after his sudden collapse and cardiac arrest in the first quarter of the Bills’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals. While commentators were frozen in shock, the Bills’ team of sports medicine specialists immediately crowded the field, ready to assist. This instantaneous response is attributed to Hamlin’s promising recovery. The entire medical team was essential when approaching Hamlin’s condition, but one specialist in particular impacted Hamlin the most.
The specialist in question? Bills Assistant Athletic Trainer, Danny Kellington, who took the initiative to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Hamlin. According to a recent study, 90 percent of those who endure cardiac arrest outside of a hospital or official medical facility do not survive. It was Kellington himself who beat these odds and saved “not just [Hamlin’s] life, but his neurological function,” according to one of Hamlin’s doctors. Cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart stops beating, and therefore cannot distribute oxygen through the bloodstream to the body’s organs. The longer the heart is stopped, the lower the oxygen levels become. Low oxygen levels in these vital areas increase the probability of organ damage and risks survival. Kelligton’s swiftness truly saved Hamlin from tragedy. Many members of the National Football League (NFL) commended Kellington’s efforts. During a recent news conference, Bills head coach Sean McDermott described Kellington as “nothing short of amazing” and “a real hero in saving Damar’s life.” Thousands have been inspired by the actions of these sports medicine professionals, and Damar’s story will serve as a historical remembrance of the value that sports medicine brings to the table.
The Lawrenceville community also had the experience of witnessing the other side of sports medicine from former Rutgers football player Eric Legrand. Legrand shared his story of sustaining a life-changing football injury and provided remarkable insights regarding his perseverance and newfound gratitude. In Legrand’s case , his condition is virtually incurable. However, he mentioned his work with athletic trainers and physical therapists in his determined pursuit of regaining his ability to walk. When he is not working with specialists to reach his walking goal, Legrand finds joy in the philanthropic, entrepreneurial, and literary sides of himself. One of his most recent endeavors is establishing a small business, Legrand Coffee Shop in Woodbridge County, New Jersey. Legrand views his business as “so much more than simply opening a coffee shop,” noting that “it is a reminder that we can accomplish anything if we set our heart, mind and focus on that goal.” His perseverance to engage in treatment while also finding time to pursue new passions serves as a humbling message to all to practice gratitude, while simultaneously raising awareness of the value of health throughout the school community.
Sports Medicine certainly does not end here. The future of sports medicine promises new and innovative technologies that help keep athletes safe on the field to prevent accidents. As our society raises more awareness for physical and mental wellness, sports medicine is heading towards a powerful future. From taping ankles to physical therapy sessions, athletic trainers are making a difference in the future generations of professional athletes.