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Orthopedics Nov 10, 2022

Serving Those Who Serve Our Communities

The Sports and Injury Clinic’s expansive approach to sports medicine helps first responders, military personnel, and more perform to the best of their ability

Reviewed by: Anthony “AJ” Johnson, MD, FAOA, FACS, FAAOS

Written by: Lauren Schneider

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When most people picture an athlete, they tend to envision football players, marathon runners, or martial artists. While all these athletes and more can be treated at the Musculoskeletal Institute’s Sports and Injury Clinic, practitioners also see an unexpected patient base – tactical athletes, which can include fire fighters, law enforcement personnel, emergency medical services workers, and individuals in the military.

“As the population has become more active over the years, we had to expand on our definition of athletes,” explains Anthony “AJ” Johnson, MD, the Sports Medicine Clinical Director of the Sports and Injury Clinic. “A tactical athlete is a person whose ability to perform their job at the peak physical fitness level makes a difference in the lives of other people or their own well-being.”

Bridging a cultural gap

Serving the tactical athlete population has been part of Dr. Johnson’s medical career from the very start. After earning an undergraduate degree at the United States Military Academy, he studied medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles through the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program. He completed both a residency and fellowship in orthopedic surgery at the Brooke Army Medical Center, providing medical care to his fellow service members.

Dr. Johnson draws on his military background to provide culturally competent care to tactical athletes, which he describes as “culturally very different” from other athlete populations. These differences, including a reluctance to seek outside assistance and a strong desire to return to duty, can serve as obstacles to adequate treatment.

These tactical athletes are often eager to get back to work, but Dr. Johnson helps them understand that they can fulfill their role best when they take the proper time to recover. He offers the example of a firefighter with a sprained ankle. “If they try to get back to firefighting duties too soon and reinjure themselves, then another firefighter must care for the injured firefighter. There’s two fewer people responding to the fire, which puts more people at risk.”

Individualized sports medicine for the tactical athlete

In addition to culturally competent care, tactical athletes can expect an individualized approach to their treatment at the Sports and Injury Clinic. The practitioners can help reduce re-injury risk through the following services:

  • Identification of movement patterns that may potentially cause damage in the long term
  • Treatment of pain and injury in the muscle, joint, and bone to prevent additional damage
  • Strength and conditioning training and physical therapy
  • Sports nutrition and psychology

“We are a clinic with special experience in this unique population,” says Dr. Johnson. If tactical athletes come here, they can get specialized, comprehensive evaluation and care.”

For more information about what the Sports and Injury Clinic can offer the tactical athlete, view this flyer.

To schedule an appointment at the Sports and Injury Clinic, click here or call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.