July 2021

Our Hopes and Challenges as the Pandemic Winds Down

By Robert Weil, DPM

Yes, the pandemic is winding down and so many thanks to all who have helped! An endless array of champions in all areas of our society. The best of us! This has been a year that none of us will ever forget – so many lost and destroyed lives.

Please note I’m saying the pandemic is winding down, not over with. We’ve got to keep the pressure on. As I’ve stressed on my radio show, The Sports Doctor, we are in what I believe is our society’s greatest challenge – how do we return to “normalcy” – whatever that is.

What have we learned? So many guests on my show, doctors, therapists, coaches, athletes, authors, sports parents, etc. – wherever they were from, whatever their backgrounds, stressed this mental challenge. Later in the pandemic, Mayor Steve Chirico of Naperville, Illinois, said, “Mental health right now is our town’s and society’s greatest challenge!” And he was right. Who hasn’t been affected?

How will clinicians of all fields adapt? What changes and new directions will be implemented in physical and mental medicine and what lessons have we learned through this pandemic nightmare? LER magazine, like other media channels, will continue to pay big attention to these questions and challenges. Are there messages parents can be sending to – or receiving from – their kids about sports and physical activity that can be updated or renewed now that things are reopening? Lessons learned? Priorities noted?

Good questions – lots of answers! But more still to come.

Doctors and therapists in all fields have experienced “the virtual” explosion in dealing with patients. Telemedicine is a prime example – Zoom interactions are great, but the mental stress of still more technology compounds all of it. It will be interesting to see how well we all do with this gradual return to the “face to face” of personal interactions as our economy and businesses reopen. Everyone needs to be educated and informed – doctors and patients included. This is how we will put COVID-19 behind us.

Sports at all levels have been turned upside down and are absolutely adapting to winding down of the pandemic. Somehow, although crazy at times, and “in Bubbles” no less, the pros had the Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA finals; colleges had football champs and March Madness. Sadly, we’ve seen too many injuries due to athletes jumping back into the sport when not as physically prepared as necessary. Mental pressures at all levels were and still are off the charts. Youth sports have been tremendously affected with cancelled or changed seasons, schedule disruptions, and closings. Sports parents and all parents will need to be flexible and adapt as things are reopening. LER’s sister magazine, MVP Parent (mvpparent.com), will continue to pay big attention to all these key areas in youth sports.

Gyms and workout facilities also are reopening and adapting. Health and wellness is so important as we must physically “keep moving.” My health club was closed for almost a year – we must get that fitness habit back and keep it.

We’ve all needed – and still need – to be flexible and patient – clinicians, the kids, their parents, coaches, athletes, administrators – and yes, all the patients of all the doctors, therapists, and trainers. As clinicians, we need to be aware and empathetic to that overriding component – mental health – and how we’ve all been AND still are dealing with these stresses. We need to be aware that whatever our specialty, or service or treatment being provided, this mental part is huge. We need to be good listeners. Positive outlooks by all involved will surely be helpful. Let’s keep this winding down moving in the right direction.

Amazingly, although not shocking, current events have exploded around us with new challenges and concerns. Variants! Yes, we’ve come so far – PLEASE stay informed, stay safe, and get vaccinated!

Robert A. Weil is a sports podiatrist in private practice in Aurora, Illinois. He hosts The Sports Doctor, a live weekly radio show on bbsradio.com. His book, #HeySportsParents, written with Sharkie Zartman, is available on Amazon.com. Dr. Weil was inducted into the prestigious National Fitness Hall of Fame in April 2019.

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