The wikinomics of sport medicine

Category: Health, Science & Education
Published on Jan 20, 2010

I came across a fascinating article published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine about a British doctor’s first encounter with Wikinomics. The doctor, Karim Khan, recounts the story of having seen a patient who had been concussed after hitting his head while falling off the back of a treadmill. It turns out he’d been reading wikinomics at the time (I won’t speculate as to whether the two events are causally related!!).

Apparently, the patient proceeded to bring the book to the appointment while still symptomatic. Not surprisingly, he forgot it in the Khan’s office. Intrigued, Khan took the opportunity to leaf through the pages. He evidently found it compelling enough to then go on to submit an article reflecting on how the principles of wikinomics apply to sports medicine.

Among other things, Khan’s BJSM article calls for the discipline to adopt open access models of publishing and peer review and to embrace social media for sharing knowledge amongst thousands of medical practitioners worldwide. Khan also calls for a collaborative campaign to come up with better solutions to the current epidemic of physical inactivity that plagues the world’s most developed economies.

Here’s a few clips from his article:

Openness refers to tapping the global talent pool—ensuring, for example, that potential collaborators from Abu Dhabi to Zagreb have equal ready access to information. It might mean providing data, questionnaires or videos of exercise interventions. Journals such as BJSM can embrace openness in peer review, and, where possible, in providing open-source material. Of course this must be balanced with the challenges of a sustainable business model. Toyota hasn’t popped their hybrid engine blueprints on the Web with instructions on how to make one at home. . .

The Hippocratic oath encouraged physicians to “give a share of precepts and oral instruction” (Wikipedia’s Hippocratic oath comes up first on Google in 0.21 seconds). Hippo was ahead of his time—sharing in wikinomics contrasts with the traditional proprietary approach to intellectual property and scientific knowledge. . .

In this spirit of mass collaboration, for the theme issue (Integrating Physical Activity into Clinical Practice) guest editor Blair encourages submissions from the world over. He’ll oversee open peer review and we’ll work with the BJSM publishers to see how much we can share for free. Let’s see whether this wikinomic approach of “openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally” can contribute to mass participation against physical inactivity.

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