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ABC of sports and exercise medicine, 3rd edn
  1. D Robinson

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    Edited by Gregory P Whyte, Mark Harries, Clyde Williams. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2005, £24.95, US$46.98 (approx), €36.58 (approx), pp 136 (softcover). ISBN 0727918133

    The title of this book is a misnomer. “ABC of sports and exercise medicine” suggests that the book covers all subjects within the designated sphere. The foreword also states that there is “no clearer, more compact, comprehensive, authoritative manual of sports and exercise medicine.” How could a comprehensive textbook on sports medicine be compact and how could it exclude almost all discussion on injuries to the body below the neck?

    This book is a fascinating dichotomy. It has some excellent components and some rather pedestrian ones. Each chapter has been written by a different author, and it is almost as if the editorial direction each author was given varied in terms of content, degree of detail, and requirement for referencing and further reading recommendations. It makes it difficult to know where to set the benchmark.

    The book is not comprehensive from an injury point of view. Other than a chapter on facial and eye injuries in sport (both good), there is only one chapter on groin injuries (more like a quick overview). I was mightily confused as to why the editors would choose to have a chapter only dedicated to those areas of injury and exclude the others. It is more promising from the point of view of medical problems in sport. There is information on a wide variety of medical problems in sport, public health issues, and exercise in special groups—for example, children, older persons, sport and disability. There are areas, however, such as travelling with or looking after a team (a vital part of sports medicine), exercise and pregnancy, and athletic screening, amongst others, that are missing. Perhaps an explanation as to why certain areas were targeted would resolve the reader’s consternation (or at least mine).

    The illustrations, figures, graphs, and photographs are excellent, and the book’s emphasis on tables of important points and checklists makes the information accessible and easy to read and interpret.

    This book is slanted to the British market, as its references to epidemiology, sporting activities, and anecdotes are all fairly parochial. There are excellent practical recommendations and sources of information and support, for those in Britain. In modern times of the global economy, ease of access to up to date research and information sharing, it is somewhat surprising that the book was not written with a more international flavour.

    I have two major gripes. The first relates to the lack of evidence based references in the text. There are 14 of 23 chapters with no references at all. The information appears generally accurate, and usually up to date, but much of it is unreferenced. For example, there is significant discussion on heat illness, fluid intake, and hyponatraemia, all of which have been researched thoroughly in the last 10 years, but it goes unreferenced. Sixteen of the chapters have recommended further reading; however, one list of further reading suggests the reader access relatively obscure journals of 1973 and 1985 for information on hypothermia. Perhaps a more recent review may offer the reader easier access and more up to date information.

    The second complaint concerns the foreword. It advertises the book as something useful for doctors in accident and emergency in the NHS to use to assist in the management of sports injuries. Either presentations to accident and emergency are very different in Britain from elsewhere—that is, only affecting children, the groin, or head—or they will certainly need another textbook. As for the comment that I noted earlier, it is clear that it also is inaccurate. Forewords can be many things, but they should accurately represent the contents of the book they precede.

    Overall, the good bits of this book are very good—for example, the head injuries and environmental chapters—and the average bits are fairly average. I would recommend this book to coaches, sports trainers, physiotherapists, and doctors who want some basic grounding in sports medicine for the medical information that it contains. The acute care, principles of rehabilitation, doping chapters, and many of the medical chapters are good overviews, stating clearly the principles and demonstrating simply and clearly the concepts that are important. I do not believe that it is aimed at sports and exercise physicians.


    • Presentation 17/20

    • Comprehensiveness 9/20

    • Readability 15/20

    • Relevance 14/20

    • Evidence basis 9/20

    • Total 64/100