Having their back — Andrews' Dr. Juliet DeCampos on treating female athletes

Eric Oliver -   Print  |

Juliet DeCampos, MD, a sports medicine physician at Gulf Breeze, Fla.-based Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, described the intricacies of treating injuries in female athletes.

In an interview for Andrews Institute, she talked about how female athletes differ from male athletes and shared how sports and sports medicine have evolved with female athletics.

Note: Transcript was edited for style.

Dr. Juliet DeCampos: Female athletes have certain aspects of their musculoskeletal system that make them different from male athletes. As a sports medicine physician, it is very important to understand those differences. For example, in the knee — treatment of the [anterior cruciate ligament] and the patellofemoral joint are very different in men and women. Women have, in general, a little bit more laxity and less muscle strength. Females may not have as good of a center of gravity for different sports than males. In the shoulder, women have a lot more looseness but fewer dislocations because they don't play as many collision sports. Women usually have longer recovery times from a concussion than male athletes. So as a sports medicine physician, you have to be aware of these differences when you are providing sports medicine coverage for a female athlete.

Female athletes also have specific aspects of their biology that make them different than male athletes. There are issues that come up for women during puberty. There are differences of bone density and muscle size in men and women. In order to take care of female athletes, a physician must have specific knowledge of their biology as well.

I started out as an athletic trainer on the sidelines when female athletes were really marginalized and didn't have many opportunities in athletics. Over the course of my career, opportunities for women in athletics have grown immensely. Female athletes have the opportunity to compete in almost any sport that men can compete in. As these opportunities have grown for female athletes, so too have the increased chances for injuries and various musculoskeletal conditions. Sports medicine physicians must strive to help female athletes stay in the game and return to play just like any other athlete.

On a personal note, it is great for me to know that my daughter and other female athletes out there are able to participate in sports with knowledgeable sports medicine physicians that have their back. We can care for these athletes if they're doing yoga, playing high school lacrosse or playing soccer at the highest level because we know as sports medicine physicians how to provide them with specific sports medicine care to meet their individual needs.

View the entire Andrew's video series, here.

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