Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) is a discipline which draws upon basic and applied biomedical and clinical sciences for the furtherance of knowledge and ensuring best practice in the diagnosis and management of Sport and Exercise related clinical problems. The discipline is relevant to the whole population and seeks to promote health, prevent disease or injury, apply optimal treatment and rehabilitation, and to measure outcomes. As a multidisciplinary specialty it sits across primary and secondary care, with a focus on prevention as well as treatment.
Sport and Exercise Medicine represents a distinct body of knowledge, however, there will always be common ground with other specialist areas of knowledge. As such Sport and Exercise Medicine specialists are particularly well equipped to act as part of multidisciplinary teams working with other health professionals in the management of exercise-related illness and injury, and the use of therapeutic exercise for those with a wide range of diseases and lifestyle issues.
Sport and Exercise Medicine physicians have specialist training which is focused on the beneficial effects of exercise on health, and the effects that medical conditions have on the individual’s capacity to exercise. Giving encouragement and assistance to individuals and groups in their endeavours to be active today, SEM provides a holistic and effective means of addressing the population health challenges of tomorrow. This is increasingly relevant as one of the great medical challenges over the coming century is to reverse the slide towards a sedentary and overweight population. The technological advances seen over the past century have been labour-saving and time-saving. These same advances however have resulted in a population that is generally required to perform less physical activity than at any other stage in human existence. Medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, some cancers, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and mental illness can all be at least partially attributed to a sedentary lifestyle. Certainly exercise has been well proven to provide therapeutic benefit in each of these conditions. Studies demonstrate that those who exercise regularly are likely to contribute in a positive way to society. Children who exercise regularly are more likely to be successful at sport with its inherent benefits for self esteem and social skills. While governments struggle under the burden of increasing health-care costs, there is a real need for proactive support structures for those who wish to remain physically active and exercise.
However, sport and exercise are associated with injury and illness and Sport and Exercise specialists have the specialised skills necessary for the emergency treatment of such problems and the ongoing management of injuries. It is recognised that inadequate treatment can result in chronicity and permanent disability.
Training in Sport and Exercise Medicine provides doctors with a specialised skill set which enables them to treat and encourage the exercising individual, young or old, recreational or elite. Knowledge of the health benefits of exercise and of optimal exercise regimes for specific subgroups allows Sport and Exercise Medicine specialists to promote an active lifestyle to those groups who can benefit most. Sport and Exercise Medicine specialists require a broad range of clinical skills for dealing with medical illness in those who wish to exercise, as well as for treatment of musculoskeletal pathology.
For further information on the specialty and on the curriculum covered can be found on the JRCPTB site.