ERIC SMALL MD:
How long have you been practicing Sports Medicine?
I have been practicing Primary Care Sports Medicine for over 20 years and began when there were few physicians in the field. In the beginning there was little understanding of injury prevention/management and return to play protocols.
How did you become interested in Sports Medicine?
I played varsity baseball and tennis in high school. I also played varsity tennis at Haverford College.
In high school I was a pitcher with elbow problems and was told never to pitch again. I always knew there had to be a better way.
What is the main difference between Sports Medicine and Orthopedics?
I see sports injuries, all day long, period. I also do not do surgery. The main focus of sports medicine is to recover as quickly as possible so the athlete can return to play quickly and perhaps with increased performance as well. Most sports injuries do not require surgery, so the expertise that comes along with someone who sees these types of injuries all day is invaluable to patients. Many sports injuries can be healed with exercise or some additional therapies.
Who Are your Patients?
My patients come from all over the Tri-State area, with many patients coming from out of state. They are athletes who are are injured. There are also patients who come to me looking for a second opinion, since they still are in pain or have a lingering injury. Many are college students who need to come home from college to see me.
How does Concussion Medicine fit into Sports Medicine?
Kids getting injured while playing sports, definitely falls into the realm of Sports Medicine. I have been treating athletes with concussions from the beginning of my practice, over 20 years ago. This was way before any one else understood the implications of a young person with a concussion. Also, there often are other injuries involved, such as a neck or back injury. All of this is wrapped under sports medicine and best treated by someone who has experience in all these injuries at once.
Where did you do your training?
I completed two Sports Medicine fellowships:
- Harvard ‘s Boston Children’s Hospital
- MacMaster University in Ontario, Canada
What advice can you give athletes today?
Have fun with your sport. Optimize your performance by using proper strength and conditioning techniques, eating and hydrating properly, and do not ignore pain and injuries.