(In photo: Daniel Morgan)
An injury is a pain, literally. Ranging from mildly inconvenient to utterly debilitating, an injury can completely change your life for a bit; or even permanently. Sports injuries are often worse, because they occur while you’re participating in an activity that normally brings joy and exhilaration to your life.
A sports injury will slow you down considerably, making movement uncomfortable, adding pain to everyday life and preventing an athlete – whether amateur or professional – from engaging in their most beloved pastime, which may incite a feeling of melancholy or even depression.
Having worked closely with many of Bermuda’s elite athletes on the national level, Daniel Morgan knows a thing or two about sports injuries. Currently, he brings healing to both local athletes and everyday people as the CEO of Performance Rehab Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic.
According to Mr Morgan, the sports that cause the most injuries locally are club football and rugby. This makes a lot of sense, as football is our most popular pastime and rugby is a very tough, high contact sport.
Ankles, knees, hips, spines and many other vulnerable joints and body parts are at risk every time local players take to the field of play. Of course, friendly fire is also possible, so training can cause injury too, especially if it’s full contact, intense training.
Sports like cricket, netball, softball, harness pony racing, motocross, road running, martial arts, boxing and field hockey also present very real injury risks for participants, while lower contact sports like squash, tennis and golf can bring aches and pains to practitioners as well.
Mr Morgan has seen all manner of sports injury treated in his clinic, naming lumbar spine, muscular injuries and ankle inversion injuries as the most common seen by his team.
“Most injuries seen in the clinic are acute aggravations of chronic injuries such as old injuries that either have not been fully rehabbed/ recovered, or larger injuries such as knee ligament or cartilage injuries,” he said.
Many sports injuries take a long time to fully heal. Amateur athletes tend to return to the field sooner than they probably should after injury, as they want to play and don’t have a large team of dedicated medical people to keep them from doing more damage to themselves. Therefore, chronic injuries manifest.
“Whilst the aim is to return the athlete to full 100 percent fitness, commonly, when the athlete feels no pain, and only minor dysfunction, they are prone to return to sporting activity.”
Of course, more major injuries need more intense treatment, and a longer recovery time. Often, returning to the same level of proficiency in their sport may be difficult for an athlete who suffers a major injury. Mr Morgan explained:
“The more severe the injury, the harder it will be for the athlete to return to the same level and intensity of sport – if at all possible. Injuries that previously would end a career – such as an anterior cruciate rupture – can now be fixed. With the improvement in sports medicine, and surgical procedures, the prognosis for recovery has greatly improved for the athlete who is motivated to return to their respective sport.”
Advancement in treatment and technology will always improve our chances of having our broken bodies fixed, but there will still be things that simply won’t cooperate – until we get that Star Trek medical bay equipment!
“Injuries to cartilage, and especially articular cartilage (the covering of bone in the joint), have been slower to find a route to improved recovery through surgical interventions, but innovation is proving promising for the future.”
Of course, athletes want to get back on the field as soon as possible after an injury. No one wants to deal with a lingering injury – I can say from personal experience that they are not fun, at all!
Mr Morgan discussed recovery time in relation to injury type and sport: “Rehab schedules are generally dictated by the type of injury, the stages of healing, and, if applicable, the surgical intervention.
“Anterior cruciate ligament injuries of the knee can take between six months to a full year before the athlete is returned to full strength. This will depend on the sport, and the amount of cutting and pivoting. Lesser injuries may take a matter of days if they are soft tissue in nature, but this will be dictated by the signs and symptoms displayed to the physiotherapist.”
This last point is very important; patients must absolutely trust and follow the instructions of their physiotherapist during rehabilitation of a sports injury. Failure to complete a physiotherapy regime can result in the injury in question becoming chronic, and you could find yourself regretting not listening to your physiotherapist twenty years later.
When it comes to injuries that require surgery, the stakes get even higher.
“Surgery without post, and possibly pre, surgery rehab can be a recipe for disaster. Getting close to full pre-injury strength, flexibility and balance is essential to not leave an athlete in a vulnerable state and at risk of reinjury.”
Unfortunately, the reality is that our bodies break down over time and injuries greatly accelerate that process if not properly rehabilitated.
“The idea that an injury is completely repaired, and the athlete now does not have to worry about it has phased out over the years. All athletes will have areas of concern from old injuries, or injuries that are associated with their specific sport. They will have specific strength and conditioning programmes to strengthen the areas that are most likely to be reinjured. In addition, as the athlete ages, normal wear and tear will also come into play, which will highlight the necessity for prehab, before injury occurs.”
Mr Morgan closed by highlighting the urgency of having “a coordinated effort between the entire coaching team, physiotherapists, multiple coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, orthopedic and general doctors, so that they are all on the same page, especially as the athlete returns to the sport, post injury.”