In mid-July 2015, my travels took me to Las Vegas to attend a meeting of the Medical Advisory Board for the National Basketball Association (NBA). I was asked to serve on this newly formed Advisory Board that is concerned with NBA player’s health. The focus of the board will be on proper injury prevention and treatment, along with public outreach. I certainly applaud the NBA for caring enough about its players to support an advisory board with a focus on keeping players healthy, not only while they are playing, but later on in life as well.
The meeting brought together an experienced group of sports medicine physicians and other specialists, to discuss common injuries among NBA players and how best to study ways to help prevent and mitigate these injuries. Obviously, playing any sport at the professional level can take a toll on the body and leave you with worn and arthritic joints that can limit a former player’s activity as they get older. Certainly figuring out ways to minimize this wear and tear is a worthwhile goal and can have lots of applications to active and athletic people beyond professional basketball players.
An obvious concern for me is that old injuries suffered when you are young tend to lead to early arthritis and are especially common in the lower extremities. This in turn can limit a person’s ability to walk and get the exercise they need to stay healthy. Finding ways to prevent and mitigate the damage from old injuries could have tremendous implication not just for joint health, but for preventing chronic diseases by allowing former athletes to continue exercising well into their later years. I try to treat every patient I see as an athlete and with a goal to get them back to their sport, which for many older adults is simply doing that 30 minutes of walking each day that has been proven to keep them healthy and living longer. It is important to understand that we don’t have to do real strenuous activity to get these health benefits, rather just walking at a brisk pace is more than adequate to improve health.
Las Vegas is one of my favorite cities to walk in and I especially enjoy people watching while walking on the strip. Of course the weather was quite warm during my visit, so I made sure I got out early for my walk and drank plenty of water. It made for a very nice start to my day and helped me focus on the great discussions we had about keeping NBA players healthy and walking as they age.
I hope this blog finds you well and walking without any aches or pains.