WHAT I DO:
“My job is to provide orthopedic care to the student-athletes here at the University of South Carolina. My focus is on the physical part of injuries and taking care of the student-athletes. My focus is primarily on shoulder injuries, knee injuries, and elbow injuries. I take care of the men’s basketball team, the baseball team, in addition to multiple other sports, including volleyball, softball, men’s soccer, track and field, equestrian, golf and tennis. I’m exposed to a lot of the student-athletes.
“We understand that the athletes here are very high-level athletes. We understand that they want to be out on the courts and the fields to do the things that they’re very good at doing. My job is to help those student-athletes get back out on to the court or field. We also understand that these are young student-athletes, and it’s our job to see that they’re cared for; not just within their three or four years here, but also into the future. We’re aware that our job is to get them back out on to the field and on the court, but we make sure we do that very safely. We’re never going to jeopardize any future problems just push them back out on to the court.”
WHAT DO STUDENT-ATHLETES HAVE ACCESS TO IN TERMS OF MEDICAL AND SURGICAL OPTIONS?
“We have one of the best sports medicine programs in the country. I would put us up against anyone else in the country in terms of what we provide for our student-athletes. We have a great medical director in Dr. Jeffrey Guy. We have a great director of sports medicine in John Kasik. We have orthopedic surgeons, not just myself and Dr. Guy, but we have a whole list of specialists including hand surgeons, foot and ankle surgeons, and spine surgeons. We have fantastic primary care doctors that we work with that help us not only with the muscle/skeletal aspects of care, but the medical care we provide.
“We’ve always understood the mental aspects of taking care of our student-athletes, but we’ve really focused on that recently. We just hired (Wellness Coordinator) Sarah Noll, who is going to direct the care for the mental/psychological aspects of what our student-athletes are dealing with. We’ve gone into a different realm with regards to exercise science. We hired (Director of Sports Science Performance) Jay Patel to really make sure that we’re minimizing injuries, but we’re maximizing function in our student-athletes. We have nutritionists that work very hard to make sure our student-athletes are take care of. Our athletic trainers, I’d stack them up against anyone in the country.
“If you take the combination of athletic trainers, physical therapists, and physicians, in addition to the great support we get from the administration, I think we have the best sports medicine program in the country.”
WHAT’S THE RELATIONSHIP LIKE BETWEEN YOURSELF AS AN ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON AND THE STUDENT-ATHLETES BEFORE AND AFTER A PROCEDURE IS PERFORMED?
“One of the things we really try to do is establish trust. We’ll never compromise someone’s care here. We’re going to the very best that we can for them. It’s important for them to trust me. I think it’s very important for me to trust them and to understand what their goals are, and what their expectations are, in regards to not just the next three months after surgery, but also a year, five years and 10 years down the road.
“We make sure that we’re very upfront with those student-athletes. We talk to them a lot about their injury. We talk to them about their options. We always try non-operative care first if that’s the way we can get them back safely. If it does come down to a certain procedure, we understand that it’s a very difficult period in their lives. We make sure that we’re very honest. We have great communication with them and their parents.”
ARE THERE CERTAIN TOOLS OR METHODS THAT OUR STUDENT-ATHLETES HAVE ACCESS TO, FOR WHICH STUDENT-ATHLETES AT OTHER SCHOOLS MAY NOT?
“We’re fortunate that we have access to orthopedic surgeons from around the country. We’re state of the art. From an orthopedic surgery standpoint, we’re always ahead of the game in terms of what we can do to help our student-athletes.
“Technology has really changed athletics. From surgical standpoint, we know that we’re cutting edge with regards to our technology and awareness of how to take care of our student-athletes. There are a lot of different machines and modalities that our athletic trainers use; ultra sound, a laser, and we’re doing amazing things with our football program. We have a catapult system that we look at very specific forces we’re putting on our student-athletes’ bodies on a day-by-day basis.
“(Athletic trainer) Mark Rodger with basketball has done a really good job at looking at how hard an athlete is working in practice. What we’re able to do with that information when we’re looking at their heart rate and looking at their calories burned, we’re able to temper what we do with them in practice. From my standpoint, when someone is recovering from an injury, we can look at their work output and see how we need to tailor that individually for that specific person. I think we’re doing some amazing things here at the University of South Carolina.