Crozer Health’s Sports Medicine Physicians Can Help You Stay in the Game
We recently sat down with Crozer Health’s Sports Medicine physicians for an informative interview where they addressed some commonly-asked questions they receive and discussed their work with local professional and high school sports teams.
What is a Sports Medicine Physician?
Whether you are a professional athlete for the Philadelphia Union, in a local tennis league, have weekend yard work to get done, or simply someone who wants to stay active, the sports medicine physicians at Crozer Health can help you perform at your highest ability.
David Webner, M.D.. is the director of Crozer Health’s Sports Medicine Fellowship Program and is board certified in both sports medicine and brain injury medicine. He is also a team physician for the Philadelphia Union professional soccer team.
“Sports medicine physicians specialize in the nonsurgical treatment of musculoskeletal conditions,” Dr. Webner explained. His team offers patients the latest medical care to treat and prevent all sports-related injuries.
Common examples of musculoskeletal conditions include:
- Acute injuries, such as ankle sprains, muscle strains, knee and shoulder injuries, and fractures
- Overuse injuries, such as rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, and golfer’s elbow
- Chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis
- Sport-related concussions (mild traumatic brain injuries)
Sports medicine physicians design personalized plans for safe strength training and conditioning exercises to increase fitness and injury prevention. Along with recommending ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay active, they help with recovery, healing, and “return-to-play” decisions for sick or injured athletes.
When Should You See a Sports Medicine Physician?
“Most of our patients are not athletes,” said David Baxter, D.O. “We see patients from all walks of life: from jungle gym kids to weekend warriors to older adults with degenerative diseases such as knee osteoarthritis.” The same expertise that is used for a competitive athlete can be applied to the non-athlete.
“Approximately 90 percent of all sports injuries are nonsurgical,” said Dr. Webner.
Dr. Baxter completed his family medicine residency and sports medicine fellowship training at Crozer Health and is the team physician for the Union’s minor league affiliate. He stated that the term “sports medicine” can sometimes be misleading.
For most musculoskeletal issues, the sports medicine team can coordinate your treatment plan. Dr. Baxter explained, “By coming to us, we can offer you the best in nonsurgical treatments, guide you to the appropriate physical and occupational therapies, and, if necessary, we will direct you to the right type of orthopedic surgeon.”
He summarized, “Except for a major fracture, with any sports, recreational, or non-emergent injury — start here first.”
Team Physicians for the Philadelphia Union
Dr. Kevin DuPrey, assistant director of Crozer Health’s Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, covers the Philadelphia Union with Dr. Webner.
“Being a team physician for the Union is a cool little extra to our job,” said Dr. DuPrey. “It’s great to be right there, watching the game, interacting with the athletes. Because we are on the sidelines, we are able to see injuries acutely — as they happen.”
They act as the primary care physicians for the players and their families, helping with everything from COVID screening and treatment to gastrointestinal issues to musculoskeletal injuries and concussions. The team physicians can refer them to other specialists as needed. Working alongside the athletic trainers, the physicians help manage medications and rehab, and they coordinate the players’ care after an injury.
“We sign off on the player to return to play. With the professional athletes, there is a lot of pressure to get healthy again after an injury,” said Dr. Webner.
Helping our Delco Student-Athletes
Drs. Baxter, DuPrey, and Webner are team physicians for Interboro, Ridley, Garnet Valley, Strathaven, Chester, and Upper Darby high schools. In addition, Dr. Webner is the team physician for Widener University in Chester.
Dr. Baxter said, “We do their screening physicals, cover all the football games, as well as some wrestling. We’re in the weekly training rooms, working with the athletic trainers and the athletes. Although they’re at a different level than the professional athletes, there’s a lot of overlap. We see a lot of sprains and, unfortunately, some concussions.”
“It’s fun to get to know them. It’s a much different vibe than seeing patients in the office,” he added.
Preventing brain injuries
Sport-related concussion management is an important part of their role with the Philadelphia Union and the local high school sports teams. “We see two to three concussions each year with the professional soccer team and many more with high school sports over the course of a year” said Dr. Webner. “There’s not much to be done to prevent brain injuries as far as equipment. Helmets and head gear protect against some skull trauma, but because concussion is a shaking injury, no amount of head protection can stop this back and forth, whiplash motion.”
He continued, “However, the number of brain injuries can be reduced by educating the coaches and players. It’s important to modify the training techniques during the week — during practices — to reduce the number of hits. Secondly, we need to identify brain injuries when they happen and treat them early. That means that players must feel empowered to tell their coaches they’ve suffered a head injury.” Dr. Webner summarized, “Identification, education, and early treatment are the best strategies to reduce the effects of a brain injury.”
Brain injuries must be taken very seriously because there can be long-term consequences if not treated early and correctly. All sports have the opportunity for a head injury — swimming, volleyball, soccer — it’s not just football. Dr. Baxter wants parents and coaches to know, “When in doubt, sit them out.” He continued, “If there is any suspicion of a head injury, such as a change in mood, dizziness, sensitivity to light or noise, or you feel that something is not quite right, get them evaluated right away for a concussion.”
Why Visit the Sports Medicine Team at Crozer Health?
Patients at Crozer Health have access to the latest treatments in sports medicine. One example is Tenex, a minimally invasive procedure for chronic tendonitis, such as plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and Achilles’ tendonitis. This procedure may be recommended when more conservative treatments, like medications, physical therapy, or injections, are not enough.
Pain in the tendon is typically caused by scar tissue forming due to injury, age, or overuse.
Dr. DuPrey explained, “During Tenex, a long, thin probe is guided by ultrasound technology into the affected area, precisely targeting and removing the damaged tissue. Often patients can be awake for the procedure, and it usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete.”
“Tenex can significantly reduce tendon pain and help avoid or delay the need for surgery,” added Dr. Baxter.
Another exciting technology that Crozer’s sports medicine team can offer their patients is platelet-rich plasma therapy or PRP, a type of regenerative medicine. “We take the patient’s own blood, spin it down and get the platelet-rich plasma which has growth and healing factors,” explained Dr. Webner. “Then we inject the PRP into the damaged tissues or joints.”
Dr. Baxter continued, “Using biologics, we can harness the healing powers of our own bodies. For muscle tears, it can greatly reduce recovery time. And for arthritis, PRP can really alter the course of arthritis by slowing down the body’s cartilage cells from dying. It’s a very new and exciting field, and the literature is promising.”
Helping Patients Stay Active
There are things a person can do to remain active well into their later years. Dr. Webner explained, “It’s important to vary your workouts, lessen repetitive activities. If you’re a runner, break it up and bicycle a few times a week. This will complement your running, allowing you to continue longer. A physical therapist can help with workout routines that are safe and balanced, reducing the chance of an acute injury.”
“For those older patients that have arthritis, we can offer viscosupplementation, as well as corticosteroid injections, which can reduce pain and help you want to exercise more,” he said. “Both use ultrasound guidance to precisely target the painful joint.” People with osteoarthritis generally have less hyaluronic acid (a lubricant) in their joints than they need. Viscosupplementation increases this hyaluronic acid to help reduce symptoms. Corticosteroid injections can help reduce painful inflammation.
Training the Next Generations of Sports Medicine Physicians
In addition to helping train family medicine residents, the sports medicine team at Crozer Health has a fellowship program in Sports Medicine, directed by Drs. Webner and DuPrey. “We are a teaching practice and, therefore, there is an emphasis on education and training,” said Dr. DuPrey. “As we tell our patients when we walk in with a resident or fellow, ‘Two or three brains are always better than one.’”
The sports medicine team at Crozer Health practices out of the Springfield Hospital campus, as well as the outpatient clinic at 200 E. State St. in Media. Call 610-328-8830 to make an appointment.