Keeping student-athletes safely in the game

By Melissa Hutsell

More than 30 million kids participate in organized sports each year in America. High school athletes alone account for an estimated two million injuries, and 500,000 doctor’s visits annually, according to the Center for Disease Control. To keep this number from rising, regional specialists and are working with local schools to educate coaches and athletes on key on issues for athlete safety.

Doctors Medical Center of Modesto hosted the Sports Medicine Symposium for coaches, athletic directors and local athletes to raise awareness for the newest advancement in sports medicine. The event featured former San Francisco Giant Dave Dravecky as a keynote speaker, and a team of physicians specializing in orthopedic and sports medicine who presented on topics ranging from diagnosis and treatment of concussions, and sports nutrition, to dynamic warm-ups and more. Together, the experts aim to improve safety, proper treatment, training and recovery in Modesto city schools.

In order to help student athletes thrive, they need to have many resources available to them, said Dr. Jonathan Pettegrew, guest speaker at the symposium, Orthopedic Surgeon and sports medicine specialist with DMC and Stanislaus Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic. Dr. Pettegrew has collaborated with DMC, SOSMC, and California Rehabilitation, a physical therapy center, to provide the resources needed for successful, and safe, athletes. Without these tools, athletes suffer from chronic overuse and injuries.

Since coming to Modesto in September 2014, after training with the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, Pettegrew and his colleagues of specialists have already provided pre-screening physicals to more than 900 Modesto City School athletes. The clinics have helped to raise more than $23,000 so far.

“All of the proceeds [from the physicals] went back to the respective student body association accounts,” said Pettegrew. “We had over 90 physicians, nurses and physical therapist volunteers over two days to provide this service.”

To continue their efforts, California Rehabilitation will be providing trainers to all seven Modesto City high schools on a part-time basis.

In addition, Pettegrew, DMC and SOSMC specialists will be available throughout football season to provide sideline coverage at all home games. After each game, he will provide Friday night clinics for injured athletes to ensure immediate and proper treatment, such as rehabilitation and/or bracing.
“This helps initiate a safe, but effective return to play,” he said.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, early diagnosis and management promotes speedy recovery while preventing long-term-disabilities.

“It also helps open a clear line of communication between the surgeon, athlete, parent, coach and physical therapist to provide a specific plan for each individual student athlete,” he added.

Bridging the gap between family physicians, parents, and sports medicine specialists cannot be underestimated, according to both Dr. Pettegrew and the NCBI.

In addition to sideline coverage and clinics, DMC will also introduce helmets with concussion detection software developed by Dr. Robert Barandica and his son Dominic, to all Modesto schools. The district will be one of the first to institute such a program.

“We are pleased to partner with Modesto City Schools in a joint effort to improve the safety and well-being of our student athletes,” said Carin Sarkis, Chief Business Development Officer with DMC. “Funding the concussion software pilot was a logical fit for DMC as we work every day in the effort to improve the lives of everyone in our community. As the community’s Level II Verified Trauma Center (American College of Surgeons) we have a well-established team of experts prepared to treat sports injuries. Our neuroscience, emergency, and sports medicine experts are ready 24/7 to respond to emergent injuries. However, we believe that partnering with Modesto City Schools on education, advancing technology, and providing medical experts on the sidelines will help prevent injury and keep our athletes in the game and off the sidelines.”

For Dr. Pettegrew and the DMC team, communication and collaboration is key for present and future athletes.

“Creating a safe, but effective program involving injury prevention, proper rehabilitation and screening is a must,” said Pettegrew.

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