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sports medicine aghSports Medicine Program Provides Advanced Therapeutic Evaluation, Treatment of Sports-Related Injuries

It’s third down and five to go and the local high school football team is launching another drive to the goal line. The ball is hiked; the offensive line groans forward pushing 200 pound boys into and on top of each other. When the whistle blows, boys start peeling off of each other one by one. At the bottom of the heap, a 17-year-old lies still, temporarily unable to move. The referee gestures to the sideline; the athletic trainer and medical team rush to the boy’s side to provide much needed assistance…and a little bit of comforting reassurance.

After a quick medical assessment, the athletic trainers help the boy to his feet and guide him off the field to a round of applause by the home and visiting fans. On the sidelines, they continue to provide care until they are confident the boy is physically well enough to hit the gridiron again.

It’s every parent’s nightmare to see their child hurt on the playing field. But caring for the injured athlete is what the highly skilled medical teams train for and put to work daily at high school athletic events all across Western Pennsylvania. As a recognized leader in the treatment of sports-related injuries, West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) leads the way in providing sports medicine and orthopedic services for numerous school districts in the region.

At any time during the year, certified athletic trainers from Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) can be seen at 12 area high schools as well as Slippery Rock University, Community College of Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and with the Pittsburgh Pirates. On site daily during the various seasons for all sports, the trainers provide advanced therapeutic evaluation and treatment of sports-related injuries to athletes in an effort to help them return to play again as soon as possible.

“The athletic trainers focus on prevention, rehabilitation and return to play of athletes to get them back to the game or practice,” said Craig Castor, Supervisor of Sports Medicine at AGH. “When athletes suffer an injury, the athletic trainer works with them daily to prevent further damage and to improve their function until they are safe to play again.”

In addition to medical care during the season, AGH orthopedic physicians and staff provide other sports medicine services and programming for numerous area school districts. During the preseason, comprehensive physical exams and orthopedic screenings are offered at nine sites around the city to ensure athletes are not predisposed to injury and are physically prepared to begin play. The medical team also conducts pre-season concussion baseline screenings.

“We want to be as thorough as possible during the screenings to help athletes prevent injury before the season even starts,” explained Castor.

The sports medicine program in local school districts is just one component of WPAHS’ extensive outpatient rehabilitation services. In its 15 outpatient sites across the Greater Pittsburgh Area, the overlying goal is to facilitate the return of patients to their highest level of function as quickly and safely as possible following a disabling injury or condition.

An experienced staff of physicians, licensed physical therapists, certified athletic trainers, physical therapy assistants, and support staff work hand in hand with schools, sports teams and the general community. This teamwork is the basis for a comprehensive leading-edge approach to the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders.

In an effort to reach even further into the community, the Sports Medicine Program is expanding with current plans underway to build a 54,000 square foot facility in Peters Township. This new center will offer primary sports medicine, physical therapy and orthopedic care to the outlying region of the county.

“The goal is to bring a full sports medicine program with the same specialties available for professional athletes to our high school and college athletes in the region,” noted Castor. “It takes a team of good athletic trainers, physicians and rehabilitation specialists working together to bring the very best care possible to these athletes.”

 

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