American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
For Immediate Release May 17, 2005

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS:  Researchers at the University of Hawaii recently performed the first study to examine use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies by collegiate athletes. Andrew Nichols, MD presented these results at the recent Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in Austin, Texas. Dr. Nichols and collaborator Roseanne Harrigan, PhD found that over 56% of participating NCAA Division I athletes reported CAM use. CAM commonly refers to health care practices, such as massage and acupuncture, which are not yet considered to be part of traditional medical care. Prior surveys report CAM use rates of 36% in national studies and of 50% among adults in Hawaii.

Dr. Nichols states that results of this study confirmed his recent perception of prevalent CAM use among collegiate athletes, often without their physicians' knowledge. The most commonly used CAM therapies in this study included massage in 38% of athletes, chiropractic in 29%, lomilomi (traditional Hawaiian massage) in 14% and acupuncture in 12%. There were significant differences among men and women in this study: almost half of surveyed men, and over two-thirds of women reported CAM use.

Dr. Nichols is the chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine and is head team physician. He is also a member of AMSSM. Dr. Harrigan is the chair of the university's Department of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She noted that while these results demonstrate the prevalence of CAM use in this highly visible population, very little is known about the possible effects of these treatments on the athletes, their performance and their health. Drs. Nichols and Harrigan both state that these results clearly support the need for further studies on the possible risks and benefits of these therapies in the athletic population.

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was organized in 1991 by physicians who recognized the need for an organization within the field of sports medicine that approached athletes, exercising individuals, and teams comprehensively with consultative and continuous care of their orthopedic, medical, nutritional, and psychosocial issues. Although sports medicine concepts are often thought of in conjunction with professional and elite athletes, these concepts apply to athletes of all levels including grade school, high school, college and recreational athletes. AMSSM is comprised of over 900 Sports Medicine Physicians whose goal is to provide a link between the rapidly expanding core of knowledge related to sports medicine and its application to patients in a clinical setting.

NOTE: For more information, please contact the AMSSM, 11639 Earnshaw, Overland Park, KS 66210, (913) 327-1415 or [email protected] .


NOTE: For more information, please contact the AMSSM, 4000 W. 114th St., Suite 100, Leawood, KS 66211, (913) 327-1415.

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