Thursday, 21 April 2011
Sports science vs medicine.
So what does sports science involve then? This was pretty much what I wondered during my first week of lectures. Turn out the answer is very simple: The science of sport. Oh.
I haven't brushed up on my anatomy to the extent I was hoping because it turns out that is first and second year sports science and so they are expected to know it already, have however covered a much broader spectrum of subjects than I anticipated ranging from module in sports medicine itself to physiology of health to the sociology of sports deviance.
The actual sports medicine module was awesome and we had some fantastic lecturers who taught us about issues such as eating disorders in sport or drug cheating amongst athletes. As mentioned in a blog last year (http://halfadoctor.blogspot.com/2010/03/easter-holiday-envy-welcome-to-your.html) following doing a student selected module on eating disorders this is an area of medicine that has fascinated me. Last year I met a patient with chronic anorexia nervosa who did ballet and now was a ballet teacher. It was her ambition to be great at ballet which caused the development of her eating disorder in the first place (ballet is a sport where your body is very on show to the public causing self consiousness and in addition ballet dancers are encouraged to be light for lifts etc) but her eating disorder was now impeding her career as it had caused physical symptoms such as brittle bones that broke easily even when she was performing relatively low impact dance moves. Having met a patient who had AN for this reason it was very interesting to learn more about the science of the disease and why athletes may be prone to the disease. I'm not sure I learnt that much that I hadn't already been taught last year, but it remains my favorite lecture of the year and it was interesting to have my information refreshed by someone who was very knowledgeable on the topic.
Another lecturer told us all about how different types of drugs that athletes use work and the side effects that they may have. This was a very useful lecture for my future clinic
al practice because I may well come across patients in the future who are using illicit medication for enhancing reasons and it will be good to have a firm knowledge of the possible health consquences so that I can warn the patient about these in the hope that increased knowledge will persuade them against taking them. However seeing as one study showed that of those questioned 50% of elite american athletes said that they would take a pill that would guarrantee them a gold olympic medal even if they would die 12 months later, I suppose being warned of the consquences by a doctor is unlikely to have much impact. The mindset of an elite athlete is an interesting thing.
The mindset of athletes is something we learnt more about during our sociology of sport module. A lot of the students at loughborough are extreme athletes themselves. Case example: During the introductory lecture the module leader asked why two students weren't present and was told they were competing in the commonwealth games. :O. Wow. I have never felt so unsporty as I do this year! In other module I was sitting feeling quite proud of myself for having woken up early enough to go for a pre lecture swim only to hear someone behind me describe themselves as first of "Alright" at swimming and then express their hope to get on the olympic team.... So bearing this in mind debates in this module about aspects such as cheating, sports violence and drug taking, were interesting to listen to from a relatively outside of sports world perspective. I was frankly shocked by the number of my classmates who viewed drug cheating or violence as ok and part of doing your best to win. One classmate expressed "Being a sportsman is about being the best you can be, training isn't natural, so what different about taking enhancing drugs - thats truely being the best you can be"... :O . Personally I found this viewpoint shocking and I was surprised how many people seemed to agree with it. I hope the viewpoints were to an extent just playing devils advocate, otherwise you can guarrantee drugs cheating in sport is not going away anytime soon..
<---- My personal opinion
We have also had quite a lot of lab sessions testing things like markers of cardiovascular fitness. Fun undoubtably, but some of them quite embarrassing to carry out in the company of hardcore athletes.... I blame my faster resting heart beat on my morning caffiene fix ;)