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The Role of Sports Chiropractic

Tamera Tolson, DC, DACBSP®, is one of three practicing DACBSP® in Kentucky, and the only female.

LEXINGTON Whether working with an Olympic elite athlete or a tee-ball toddler, sports medicine providers have a huge impact on the patient’s musculoskeletal system. An athlete’s health and well-being are managed by primary care physicians, orthopedists, physical therapists, neurologists, nutritionists and now, certified sport chiropractors, a specialized group of chiropractors who have committed themselves to providing excellence in their management and treatment of athletes.

There are two certification levels for the sports chiropractor:

1st – Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP®) has completed a minimum of 100 hours of post-doctoral education in the specialization of sports medicine topics and must pass a board exam.
2nd – Diplomate American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians® (DACBSP) is the highest level of achievement. This doctor of chiropractic medicine has completed over 300 hours of postgraduate classroom hours, plus over 100 hours of on-field experience. The doctor must also pass a rigorous written and practical exam along with written project requirement.

Sports are demanding on the body, and it is important that the right kind of care and management is in place for the athletes who often face faulty body mechanics, over-use injuries, poor nutrition, imbalances that lead to weakness and/or injury. Sport chiropractors work in a team environment. They often work with athletic trainers, orthopedists, neurologists, and physical therapists, depending upon the level of athlete.

“As a former athlete, I wish I had known the advantages of chiropractic care sooner.”— Tamera Tolson

What Sport Chiropractic Provides

Sports injury diagnosis, treatment, and prevention – It is well known that approximately 90% of a diagnosis comes from the patient’s medical history. Sport chiropractors ask detailed questions regarding the injury or problem. We have extensive training in the proper orthopedic tests and imaging to confirm what we suspect is going on with the athlete. Proper treatment and rehab can then be applied.

Emergency procedures – Accidents happen. Sport chiropractors have been trained in procedures such as bracing, taping, CPR, wound care, spine boarding, and applying oxygen, if state regulations permit.

Concussion detection and management – Concussions are a common injury. As a sports chiropractor, we have the ability to allow an athlete to return to play or not. Commonly we use SCAT 5 or ImPACT testing, depending upon what is available for the physician, along with the signs and symptoms to make the “return to play” decision. If an athlete is believed to have sustained a concussion, stringent guidelines are used to monitor the athlete, and to determine whether they are ready to return to play. These guidelines are designed to prevent second impact syndrome. Often times athletes who continue to exhibit signs and symptoms of concussion are either released by doctors because the patient misinforms providers about their symptoms or because parents ignore the recommendation by the physician. It is imperative that parents are educated on the risks and consequences of mismanaged concussions

Pre-Participation Examinations – PPE’s help maintain the health and safety of the participating athlete. They are not designed to keep an athlete from playing the sport, but to ascertain the overall health of the athlete. An initial PPE also gives the sports physician a baseline to compare to, if or when, an injury occurs. This helps us set goals for recovery.

Joint bracing and taping – In the realm of sports medicine, bracing and taping are similar, yet they are different in function. In general, bracing is more supportive and used typically for chronic injuries. Taping, however, can be less supportive and is usually used with less frequent injuries or aiding in recovery.

Rehabilitation exercises – Rehab speaks for itself, and includes applying and training in the appropriate exercises to aid in accelerated recovery time.

Sport nutrition – Every athlete’s needs vary. The nutritional needs of women are different than men. Nutritional needs of a body builder are different than long distance runners. Sports chiropractors have been trained to aid individual nutritional needs.

Sport-specific athletic training – When rehabilitation exercises are used for an athlete to recover from injury, sport-specific training is incorporated to help the athlete gain their edge. Functional movement patterns are trained into the sport-specific actions that are required of that particular sport. This enables the athlete to become stronger, perform better, and ultimately prevent injury.

Exercise prescription – Sport chiropractors use functional movement assessments and base-line training to find an athlete’s weakness. A program is then designed to help the athlete achieve his or her goals and strengthen apparent weaknesses. Again, this will allow the athlete to have an edge in competition along with injury prevention. Often athletes already have exercises prescriptions, however, their form is incorrect. As sports physicians, we can step in and correct the poor form to prevent injury.

In short, not only are certified sport medicine chiropractors extensively trained, they strive for excellence for their athletes. Sports medicine is a team effort among all sport physicians, and sports chiropractic has place there. As a former athlete, I wish I had known the advantages of sports chiropractic care sooner. This is why I chose the path of being a sports chiropractic physician: to help improve and enhance athlete’s lives.

Tamera Tolson, DC, DACBSP® attended Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida where she graduated Magnum Cum Laude. She received her Diplomate American Board of Sports Physicians in 2018. She is one of three practicing DACBSP® in Kentucky, the only female in Kentucky to hold this prestigious degree, and one of over 400 in the nation. Dr. Tolson’s goal is to provide top notch care to aid in the athlete’s performance and well-being.