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>>USF Launches Sports Medicine for School Teams

Institute aims to keep kids safe on playing field

Tampa, FL (July 26, 2005) - The University of South Florida has begun building a national model for sports medicine that will emphasize injury prevention and safety for athletes, particularly for the growing number of young players on school and recreational teams. The initiative is being led by orthopedic surgeon Lawrence J. Lemak, MD, an internationally renowned expert in the field of sports medicine who has been appointed interim chair of Orthopedic Surgery and associate director for the Sports Medicine Institute at USF Health.

USF received $500,000 from the Florida Legislature this year to begin an interdisciplinary Sports Medicine Institute that will build upon USF Health's existing strengths in medicine, nursing, public health and physical therapy. The university plans to seek additional funding next year.

"The Institute will be a research, teaching and clinical center that brings new perspectives to the prevention and treatment of sports-related illness and injury in athletes of all ages," said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for USF Health.

"USF is uniquely positioned to develop an institute that promotes the health and safety of athletes through prevention, healing and discovery," Dr. Lemak said. "The Tampa Bay area has an underserved and growing population of youth and high school athletes, as well as large numbers of college, professional and aging athletes. The leadership here recognizes a tremendous opportunity to reach out to the community through sports medicine."

The USF Sports Medicine Institute will launch its first sports safety training program July 26 for local high school coaches. More than 25 coaches are expected to complete the course, which was developed by the National Center for Sports Safety founded by Dr. Lemak.

"We're very excited about USF's commitment to help our coaches do all they can to prevent and manage sports injuries among high school athletes," said Vernon Korhn, director of athletics for Hillsborough County Schools.

A founding partner of Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center -- one of the nation's leading orthopedic clinics -- Dr. Lemak is a pioneer in sports medicine and arthroscopy research. He is a founder and board member of the American Sports Medicine Institute, which has educated more than 100 physicians and surgeons through its internationally-recognized sports medicine fellowship program. Several physicians who trained under Dr. Lemak and his practice are now team physicians for professional sports organizations in the Tampa Bay area.

"Many sports injuries I see in the office can be prevented, and one of the best ways to prevent them is by educating coaches," said Koco Eaton, MD, team orthopedic physician for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays."For instance, it's important for Little League coaches to know that kids should only do a set number of pitches a game depending on their age and shouldn't be throwing curve balls before they can shave."

"As medical director of the Tampa Bay Lightning, I realize the importance of prevention and safety for professional athletes, and that same standard of care needs to be translated to amateur and youth athletics," said Ira Guttentag, MD, Lightning team physician.

Dr. Lemak will work with Eric Coris, MD, assistant professor of family medicine and director of the Sports Medicine Institute, and William S. Quillen, PT, PhD, professor and director of the School of Physical Therapy, to advance the sports medicine initiative as USF enters the Big East conference. He will also lead the national search for an orthopedics chair at USF and work toward re-establishing an orthopedic residency program at the medical school.

"One message we really want to get across is the importance of safety for young athletes," said Dr. Coris, who runs a sports medicine clinic at the USF Tampa campus three days a week. "The silent epidemic of sports-related injuries among children from kindergarten through high school could undermine the positive benefits children derive from their participation in team sports. Coaches and parents need to be educated about how to watch out for signs of heat illness, concussions and heart problems - things not always as obvious as a fractured ankle or sprained knee, but potentially deadly."

Dr. Quillen, one of the first physical therapists in the country to be designated a sports certified specialist, said USF will provide comprehensive sports medicine expertise that encompasses more than orthopedics.

"Our vision of sports medicine combines the best of various health professionals trained in different backgrounds, such as athletic training, exercise physiology, biomechanics, physical therapy, exercise physiology, sports psychology, nutrition, primary care and orthopedic surgery," Dr. Quillen said. "Regardless of their training, these professionals will work as a team to help recreational and professional athletes reach their optimal health and performance."

The USF College of Public Health will work with the Institute and community partners to create a pediatric sports injury registry for the greater Tampa Bay area. "We plan to collect vital information about youth sports injuries, including gender, age, race and ethnicity, type of injury, how and where the child was injured, amount of time the child participated in the sport, whether the injury was a first-time, repeat or overuse injury, treatment, costs and outcome," said Karen D. Liller, PhD, professor of public health and associate dean for Academic Affairs. "This kind of information can help us develop prevention and treatment programs and interventions that will improve the physical fitness of all children while minimizing their risk of injury."

For more information about the USF Sports Medicine Institute, please call (813) 974-2918 or contact the USF Physical Therapy Center at (813) 974-8613.
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Responding to demand from Tampa's community leaders, the University of South Florida College of Medicine was established by the Florida Legislature in 1965. Part of the USF Health Sciences Center , doctors and researchers were awarded $116.6 million in grants and contracts last year. Providing advanced medical care, USF Physicians Group at the College of Medicine is the largest doctor group in West Central Florida offering expert medical care throughout Tampa Bay's finest hospitals such as Tampa General Hospital, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, Moffitt Cancer Center and All Children's Hospital. With a reputation for training high performing clinical physicians, the College is proud that more than half of its physician-graduates remain in Florida to practice medicine.