A Faster Recovery: Why Professional Athletes Are Seeking Treatment Abroad
Elite athletes endeavor to train and compete even when ill or injured. Their motivation is often intrinsic but can also be due to pressures from coaches and their team. With the average NBA player earning over $7M a year, it’s no wonder that they’ll go to great lengths to stay at the top of their game. Long grueling training sessions and personal nutritionists are just some of the ways that they manage their health and optimize their performance. So why wouldn’t a professional athlete travel abroad in order to receive new, cutting-edge treatments to help expedite their recovery from injury?
Meet the modern sports medicine physician.
There are now doctors that know more about peak performance and ultimate fitness than trainers. Take Kobe Bryant for example, who took a nasty mid-air collision and badly sprained his ankle in 2013, only to come back and play the Atlanta Hawks 36 hours later. This not only seems like an impossible feat to the leisure sportsperson, but it can also raise questions about laws and ethics.
While illegal doping and blood transfusions are still rampant (look at the Russian Olympic team, for example), thankfully sports medicine has come a long way since the days of printed X-rays, extended periods of rest, and physiotherapy-centric treatment plans. And so too have the doctors that perform treatments and surgery.
The sports medicine physician did not exist 30 years ago; athletes were primarily treated by orthopedic surgeons and tools like electrical stimulation and ultrasound were used extensively. Today, they are more focused on tissue regeneration including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and exciting developments in stem cell and cryotherapy. However, even the most innovative and future-minded doctors are governed by the U.S. FDA, which severely limits the types of treatment and drugs that they are able to administer. This creates another conundrum.
More than anything, athletes want to get back to the game; it’s their first love, passion, and livelihood. Some professional athletes and sports medicine physicians take this to the extreme by using strong painkillers, anti-inflammatories, or other prescription medications to speed up their return to the game. But this often does more damage than good, leaving a huge opportunity for international sports recovery centers. VIVAVOYA not only has providers that cater to NBA players but also Olympic athletes, World Cup soccer players, and elite sports people with a focus on alternative treatments for a faster recovery.
Precision medicine and experimental treatments.
It’s no secret that the U.S. is behind our European counterparts when it comes to experimental medical treatments. But with overuse injuries becoming more and more prevalent, especially in younger athletes who are being pushed too early and too much, alternative interventions should be considered. In fact, the future of medicine is already taking place in some labs and clinics today with one of the most exciting innovations in this field being stem cell therapy.
Traveling abroad for recovery treatment can not only increase options for athletes but could also be more cost-effective and enhance long-term health goals. The U.K. was one of the first countries to launch a dedicated precision medicine program, but Estonia and China are both currently making huge progress in DNA mapping and genomic sequencing. These advancements in sports medicine are allowing for a far more personalized and integrative approach to healing by accurately analyzing genes to prescribe specific medications, growth factors, and biologic agents to boost an individual’s recovery time – all very exciting prospects for an up and coming American athlete.
A balanced approach to competing and healing.
There is a growing need for more innovative and personalized sports medical care, especially while an athlete is still ill or injured. These integrated health management systems help facilitate a more balanced approach to training and competing decisions. So long as its safe and legal, we believe that athletes have the right to choose the medical care best suited to their needs.
Speak with one of our consultants to help you strike the right ethical and logistical balance for your recovery needs.