Friday football injury? UMMC clinic offers swift care
Published on Monday, September 19, 2022
By: Ruth Cummins, firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday night’s football game ended early for Brian Washington, and it really hurt the Provine High senior.
The tight end was making a tackle when a couple of players fell on the right side of his leg. His knee took the brunt of it. He felt pain immediately and needed help getting off the field.
Catherine Irvine, the UMMC Sports Medicine athletic trainer who staffs Provine High football games, let Washington’s mom know that her son could get his knee assessed for injury within minutes, rather than waiting until Saturday or Monday to see a physician.
She took him to UMMC’s Friday Night Injury Clinic, where high school football players can be evaluated by an orthopaedic surgeon. While Washington was seen for his knee, a full roster of injuries is seen by the Medical Center’s sports medicine team.
Within about five minutes of arriving at the University Pavilion, athletes are placed in an exam room. If X-rays are needed, that’s done immediately, just a few steps from the orthopaedic suite.
It’s a convenient opportunity that not just offers peace of mind to players and their parents or guardian, but specialty care for injuries that most often plague athletes who play football. That can range from bumps, bruises or broken bones; ligament, tendon and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury; to suspected concussion and other potentially serious medical concerns.
“Players can come in and get an exam, an X-ray if needed, and bracing,” said Jeff Martinez, supervisor of UMMC Sports Medicine. “They come straight to University Physicians Pavilion, and we get them checked in. There’s no wait. Getting to see a physician is a very quick process.”
UMMC for several years has offered the Friday night clinic. Athletes can come in after their games, or if they suffer an injury mid-game, can come to the clinic at that time. The clinic operates from 9:30-11:30 p.m., Martinez said.
Washington said he was blocking a player on his left, and one of his teammates was blocking an opponent on Washington’s right. “Somehow, they both fell on me, on my right side,” he said.
He was seen by Dr. William Geissler, a professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation who has staffed the clinic since its inception. After a thorough exam, he gave Washington good news. “Your X-rays are fine. Nothing fractured,” he told him.
Geissler instructed him to ice his knee, and he was fitted for a brace and crutches by team members including Ashlyn Mendrop, a sports medicine physical therapy resident; Dr. Laura Fincher, a sports medicine fellow; and registered nurse Haylee Wilson.
“You’re going to have swelling around there for sure, on and off,” Wilson told Washington.
Walk-ins are welcome, but if possible, parents or athletic trainers are asked to call ahead at (601) 815-4721. If the player is traveling from out of town or there’s a concern about getting to the clinic by 11:30, Martinez said, they can call ahead and “we’ll wait for them.”
The clinic has had many busy nights, but plenty of specialists are available. The group also includes Dr. Derrick Burgess, an assistant professor in Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation; Dr. Brian Tollefson, a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and assistant professor in Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation; Dr. Rudy Napodano, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine; and Dr. Izuchukwu K. Ibe, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation.
If follow-up is needed, “the order for their appointment will be put in over the weekend so that we can start working with them first thing Monday. The process is expedited,” Martinez said.
If a player has suffered a possible concussion, he will receive a thorough examination and review of symptoms, and he will be asked how he’s feeling at the time. Parents or guardians will be instructed to be on guard for symptoms over the next few days, Martinez said.
“Most symptoms begin to resolve within 24 hours, but we caution them on worsening symptoms,” Martinez said. “If anything seems abnormal, or the player has increased symptoms, we advise them to go to the emergency room.”
The sports medicine team also communicates with the athletic trainer for the player’s team to make sure that protocols are being followed for the athlete’s return to play, depending on the player’s health concerns. UMMC staffs football games for six metro-area teams with certified athletic trainers.
While most injuries are minor or easily resolved, Martinez said, others can be scary or concerning in the weeks ahead. Last season, he said, “we had an athlete who presented with a concussion from a Friday night football game. During the exam, he mentioned neck pain.
“The physician did a neck exam and saw something potentially alarming, and she sent that athlete to the ER. It ended up being resolved through appropriate rest, but if they’d continued to play, it certainly could have become more complicated.”
Not just the specialty care, but the convenience for players who live in the metro area make the clinic appealing.
“UMMC is centrally located on the interstate,” Martinez. “You don’t have to worry about waking up an injured teenager on a Saturday morning to get them back downtown. You can get a diagnosis on Friday night and be working with the player’s athletic trainer Saturday to discuss their care, and any needed follow-up with a specialist that Monday morning.”
Jacqui Davis, Washington’s mom, said she’s glad the team’s athletic trainer told her about the clinic.
“It’s not crowded,” she said. “It was very appreciated that we didn’t have to wait until the next day.”