Game on: MedSport helps patients get on the road to recovery

March 21, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Beginning today, men’s and women’s college basketball teams around the country will begin competing for the national championship.

While athletes take center stage annually during March Madness, there is a dedicated group of Michigan Medicine experts who focus on athletes — and the sports they love — all year round.

“MedSport is a multidisciplinary team that works together to treat any patient who suffers an acute musculoskeletal injury, such as a torn knee ligament or elbow injury,” said Corey Snyder, physical therapy manager for MedSport. That could include elite athletes, weekend warriors or just those who get injured shoveling snow.

“Our goal is to get every patient back on the road to recovery as soon as possible,” Snyder said.

Care in the community

MedSport is a division within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. It is composed of more than 200 experts, including physicians, nurses, physician assistants, radiology techs, physical therapists, rehab techs, athletic trainers, patient service associates and individuals who carry out sports medicine research.

The division sees both pediatric and adult patients at four locations. The biggest clinic is at Domino’s Farms, which treats more than 200 patients a day. But there are MedSport specialists at the Brighton Center for Specialty Care, the Northville Health Center and the Ice Cube in west Ann Arbor.

In addition, athletic trainers are embedded within the community.

“We have athletic trainers who work directly with high school sports teams in Ann Arbor and across Washtenaw County,” Snyder said. The trainers attend the sporting events themselves, but they also meet with coaches and parents to educate them on the best ways to help children avoid sports-related injuries.

Finally, MedSport trainers are on hand at all USA Hockey events in Plymouth and at U-M sporting events and School of Music and Dance events.

“We’re there right when injuries happen so that individuals will immediately get the attention they need, leading to the best possible outcomes,” Snyder said.

A collaborative process

Every patient at MedSport will immediately notice teamwork and collaboration among the care team.

“In an ideal situation, a patient will be seen by one of our team members immediately following an injury,” Snyder said. “They will then be triaged into our clinic, where they will meet with a sports medicine physician or orthopaedic surgeon.”

The medical team will then diagnose an injury — with the assistance of a radiologist should images be necessary — and discuss treatment options with the patient and their family.

“At that point a patient could immediately begin physical therapy if that is the recommended treatment or go in for a surgical intervention,” Snyder said. “If surgery is the course of action, patients may also be asked to undergo prehab, which involves working with therapists to improve strength, range of motion and other important factors prior to a procedure.”

The MedSport team will also discuss what a patient should expect on their journey back to health.

For those who undergo surgery, within one week following the procedure they will be seen again by the medical team, though a physical therapist will also be on hand to discuss the upcoming rehab process.

“Our triad model — where a patient, doctor and therapist get together — ensures that no wires are crossed and that everyone’s recovery goes as planned,” Snyder said. “It’s a model that consistently receives high marks from our patients.”

A long, personal journey

Following a surgery, patients typically come in for rehab several times per week for 30-90 minutes at a time.

“We get to know them and they get to know us,” Snyder said. “And that’s why we take great care to make sure the attention they receive is personalized and unique.”

For instance, a patient is assigned to a single rehab team, which includes a physical therapist, PT assistant and athletic trainer.

“This group is who you will see every time you come to our clinic,” Snyder said. “Each team member knows your injury and your body very well. It’s truly a team effort that maximizes results.”

And when rehab is complete — which could take up to a year for major injuries — everyone shares in successes.

“It’s so gratifying to see our patients getting back to the things they love to do,” Snyder said. “If we help a pitcher get back to throwing a baseball, or a basketball player shoot around or a golfer swing a club, they always have a huge smile on their face. It’s how we know that what we do is meaningful.”