Sports medicine is a medical branch relating to physical fitness and sports-related injuries. Both on- and off-the-field, health specialists work to treat and prevent trauma to bones, muscles and connecting tissues.
Dr. David Hryvniak, Asst. Prof. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Dr. Siobhan Statuta, Asst. Prof of Family Medicine, are both University team physicians who are tasked with keeping athletes healthy.
“Our call and our time spent with patients is in the training room and out in the field and in the court, covering events,” Hryvniak said. “A lot of our time spent would be with athletes to take care of their needs.”
According to Hryvniak, University sports with high potentials for physical impact — such as football, lacrosse, basketball and soccer — always have a team physician present at the event in case of medical emergency.
Beyond physicians, athletic trainers are also tasked with keeping University athletes healthy and injury-free. They go to practice with the team on a daily basis, providing physicians with updates on the health conditions of athletes.
“Being a [sports medicine] doctor, or team physician, differs from many specialties in medicine as the patient population of athletes that I take care of is [an] extremely driven and exceptionally talented group of individuals, who, if not careful, will injure themselves by exercising too much,” Statuta said in an email to The Cavalier Daily.
The injuries sports medicine physicians generally see vary based on the sports treated athletes play. Common ailments for runners include lower extremity injuries, stress fractures and achilles tendonitis, Hryvniak said.
“With our football players, we can get more traumatic injuries, like ligament tears, and things like that,” Hryvniak said. “We are usually at the football game as well as at training. We have an orthopedic surgeon available as well to help us manage any surgical needs.”
The Runner’s Clinic is housed in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University Hospital. It focuses on providing specialized care and treatment to community members and University athletes for sports-related injuries.
The clinic is made up of three physicians — Hryvniak, Statuta and Dr. Robert Wilder, an Assoc. Prof. and chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. All three individuals are also runners, and they help patients regain the fitness necessary to return to running or other physical activities.
The Runner’s Clinic provides care for undergraduates, graduates or community runners and athletes.
“Undergraduate and graduate student get seen at student health and [those] thought to have a running injury are referred over to us, so we often see a lot of students with running injuries or injuries they suffered in ultimate frisbee or club basketball,” Hryvniak said.
In the Runner’s Clinic, running specialists give advice to patients from different perspectives, discussing topics such as training mileage, running techniques, shoes, hydration and sleep. Patients are then given a holistic diagnostic, Statuta said.
The SPEED clinic, which is located in the same department, performs data analysis on athletic performances for each individual to help injury rehabilitation and to help prevent future injuries. According to Hryvniak, the clinic’s lab is equipped with a special treadmill pad to measure forces and analyze gait using an attached 3D camera.
Regardless as to which level athletes practice, sports medicine physicians guide patients from injury rehabilitation to future prevention techniques.