After spending my last summer swamped in organic chemistry, I decided I needed a summer to test my Brandeis education in the medical world. Having gained a great deal of experience in a lab setting already, I was very interested in expanding that knowledge into a clinical setting. Through my participation in a research trial on female athletes, I had the pleasure of meeting my current supervisor, a physician and clinical researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital. She offered me a position as a research intern, helping to continue the work being done towards preventing injuries in female athletes.
Ranked as one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country, Boston Children’s Hospital has a long-standing history of advancing medicine into the future. Their values include excellence, sensitivity, leadership, and community with a mission of providing quality care, progression in research, and teaching future leaders in pediatric care. Boston Children’s Hospital is not-for-profit so all resources go towards fulfilling and maintaining the values and mission of the hospital. Children’s also is home to the world’s largest research enterprise as leaders in uncovering the cause of diseases from autism to juvenile leukemia. I will be stationed at the Waltham campus with some work being conducted in Boston.
Along with my supervisor, I also get to work with another sports medicine physician who does a great deal of work with the Boston Ballet and has a strong interest in conducting more research on dancers and the injuries they sustain. With the guidance of both doctors I have begun working on a patient survey that will be used in the hospital to help find patients with high risks for injury. I have also begun the process of gaining International Review Board approval to perform a retrospective chart review on dancers to see if a specific BMI correlates to certain injuries.
All of the research I will get to do this summer will help improve the knowledge of the Female Athlete Triad. The Female Athlete Triad is a syndrome that affects the health of active women and girls who participate in sports. The triad is comprised of three distinct and interrelated conditions: Energy Deficiency with or without Disordered Eating/Eating Disorder, Menstrual Problems and weak bones. Many female athletes are affected by this syndrome but the extent to which it affects each individual ranges along a continuum of severity. Menstrual problems include irregular or missed periods. Bone problems can include stress fractures and reduced bone density for an individual’s age and activity level. Being affected by any aspect of the Triad can have detrimental effects on the health of female athletes, so when an athlete presents with multiple afflictions it is important to treat them quickly. Luckily those affected by the Female Athlete Triad can turn their health around by supplying their bodies with enough calories to fuel them while in motion and at rest. However, many female athletes participate in sports where physical aesthetics are a large factor in the competition or are so driven to win that they disregard the potential harm they place on their bodies. For these athletes it is important to introduce guidelines at a young age to prevent and insure that their bodies will never suffer the consequences of the Triad.
Over the course of the summer I hope to familiarize myself with clinical research. So far I have gotten to see many different angles of the medical field as I am continuously surrounded with doctors, physician assistants, nurses and researchers all working together in different ways to improve the lives of the people they serve. I also hope to take away information that I could use to directly impact my peers in the athletic community, as preventing injury is one of the most important aspects of being an athlete.