Physical Activity and Sports Medicine
The countless health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle are well known. Inadequate regular exercise in a majority of the population has created a major public health problem for the United States. Existing relationships with the Reynolda Campus of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University, minority workers, and other departments within the medical center means that the research section is well positioned to tackle important questions relating to health and exercise. For example, sports medicine fellows assist members of the Wake Forest University Department of Health and Exercise Science with multiple studies examining physical activity dosing and benefits. Ongoing studies with Latinos in the state provide the access that would be needed to assess the barriers to exercise that this population faces.
At the same time, there is a trend in this country for those that are active to become involved in specific sports at younger ages and in more organized settings. Adults who exercise demand high performance and quick return to the activities they enjoy, even as they grow older. The field of clinical sports medicine research is still in its early stages. Much of the support behind the treatments used to get people back into action is still theoretical and anecdotal. Injury prevention in the young and old especially is just now being emphasized. The Department of Family and Community medicine has contact with large numbers of injured patients via sports medicine clinics. Through the medical coverage we provide, there is also access to elite competitors at Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State Universities, local high school athletes, and children participating in local tournaments. These are the populations needed to address the questions of injury treatment and prevention.
Because the field of clinical sports medicine is so relatively unexplored, there is a great need for the development of future clinical researchers to take on this challenge. The philosophy of the exercise and sports medicine research section is to foster the development of future primary care sports medicine investigators by involving learners in the process of clinical research. Alongside of section faculty, a number of fellows, residents, and students have already designed and executed clinical sports medicine research projects that have been published and presented at national meetings.