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December 12, 1966

Jargon Confuses The Physician

JAMA. 1966;198(11):49. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110240023014

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What is a glass arm? A baseball finger? A tennis leg?

While the colorful jargon of medicine in athletics has contributed to the comprehensiveness of the nomenclature, terms like these have not contributed to its clarity and uniform understanding, Kenneth S. Clarke, PhD, told participants in the Eighth National Conference on the Medical Aspects of Sports.

"Effective health supervision of athletes must rely on terms to record observations, to exchange clinical observations, to accumulate information, to evaluate statistical data, and thus to improve the bases for decisions and treatment," he said.

The problem is that many of the terms in common usage have imprecise or multiple meanings.

For example, in a survey of members of the Athletic Trainers Association and the American College Health Association Section on Athletic Medicine, 16% of those responding wouldn't even hazard a guess as to the meaning of the term "baseball elbow." Fifty-two percent did