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Spring 2011

Optimizing Postsurgical Performance for Athletic Injuries

When an athletic injury requires surgery, expert diagnosis and experience in the full range of potential procedures are essential for a quick return to action.

"But to prevent reinjury and restore full function, it’s also important to devise a tailored rehabilitation program that can be adapted as needed as we carefully track recovery,” said C. Benjamin Ma, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon and chief of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at the UCSF Orthopaedic Institute at Mission Bay.

At the institute, surgeons perform procedures on everything from the shoulder, elbow and wrist to the hip, knee, ankle and foot. "Having an expert, interdisciplinary team and advanced equipment can optimize the rehabilitation phase," Ma said.

High-tech, High-touch Human Performance Area

Ma said that care is enhanced by a staff that includes orthopaedic surgeons, primary care sports physicians and certified athletic trainers, all who work closely with consulting physiatrists, rheumatologists, cardiologists and other UCSF specialists. The team takes advantage of a high-tech Human Performance Center that precisely analyzes a variety of factors critical to health and athletic performance, including where patients are in their recovery from surgery.

Consider a common sports procedure, such as reconstructive surgery for the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). A comprehensive postsurgical evaluation includes a:

  • Quantitative MRI study to evaluate cartilage health
  • Functional evaluation of the reconstructed knee in the Human Performance Center
  • Measuring metabolic activity at various times during recovery

"These tests enable us to be more precise with our recommendations," Ma said. "We can determine things such as how much weight a person should train with along the recovery path, or what pace to run if they are engaged in endurance sports."

Range of Services

The value of such recommendations is enhanced by continuous insights from research, as well as expert, collaborative clinical work on virtually all sports injuries at any level of play — from pediatric athletes and adult weekend warriors to collegiate and professional athletes.

In addition to its surgical and rehabilitation services, the sports medicine team runs cardiac and concussion prevention and treatment clinics, as well as two innovative community outreach efforts:

  • PlaySafe — Certified athletic trainers provide weekly, on-site sports medicine services to local high schools, as well as injury prevention and conditioning programs, athletic injury evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation, and emergency care of acute athletic injuries and illnesses.
  • RunSafe — This clinic provides a comprehensive, individualized service to running athletes at all levels to improve performance and prevent injury. Athletes receive analysis and counseling from a team of specialists that includes a sports medicine physician, physical therapist, sports dietitian, and professionals certified in orthotics and prosthetics.

Appointments can be made at the Orthopaedic Institute Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at (415) 353-7566.

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