Atrium Health Showcases Sports Medicine Leadership at Prestigious Conference

06.28.2022 Atrium Health News

Atrium Health is constantly learning better ways to care for patients and train the next generation of doctors.

That’s why for the past 25 years, experts from Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute (MSKI) and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist attend the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) Conference. For these primary care sports medicine experts, it’s all about taking the latest in research and translating it into clinic practice.

This year’s attendees included: Dr. Kevin Burroughs, Dr. David Price, Dr. Heath Thornton, Dr. Brent Messick, Dr. Robert Jones, Dr. David Popoli, Dr. Laura Lintner and Dr. Chris Miles.

Atrium Health’s sports medicine leaders came together with other national and international experts to support one another by collaborating and sharing information. The goal is to establish best practices and improve treatments by sharing what was learned over the past year.

“Each year the AMSSM annual meeting is the largest gathering of the organization’s 2,700 members, along with other sports medicine professionals, to learn about the most up-to-date information on a variety of topics from patient care to best methods in teaching techniques,” said Burroughs, who is a past member of the AMSSM board of directors. “Although the meeting has progressively gotten bigger, it is also an invaluable opportunity to network with the largest collection of other sports medicine specialists from across the country and the world.” Nearly every year, Atrium Health physicians help multiple residents and fellows present cases in various forums. This year, there were eight poster presentations and three research presentations. All MSKI faculty, as well as some residents, are also involved in the committees that meet at the conference.

“It’s so important that we help bring up the next generation of sports medicine fellows, medical students and residents,” Thornton explained. “At this conference, we can help mentor them to enter into sports medicine training or a fellowship program, guiding them as they prepare for practice.”

Several providers have been involved with AMSSM for more than 20 years, some sitting on numerous committees within the association. At the recent conference, Dr. Robert Jones was honored with a 25-year membership award.

Best Practices Learned

The AMSSM focuses on primary care sports medicine, which includes family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation. This nonsurgical subspecialty covers patients from head to toe – and includes the brain, heart and other medical issues as well as bone, joint and muscle injuries – allowing physicians to be perfectly suited to be a team physician.

“Since the whole body is involved, it requires a lot of relying on each other’s experiences to grow in the breadth and treatment of our patients,” said Thornton. Mental health and exercise performance are also important, and Price is currently researching depression in athletes and its prevalence among different genders, races and sports. 

Burroughs taught in a workshop on sideline management, assessment and response techniques for athletes for the 16th year. Thornton was involved in helping two residents submit and present their research project – a study of injury rates in professional baseball related to the recent enforcement of the three-batter minimum rule for pitchers. The study looked at whether the enforcement of this rule increases the number of batters being hit by pitches.

Price presented on faculty development and how to give feedback effectively. He also helped residents present their research findings on outcomes of athletes being followed over time with heart abnormalities that may put them at risk for sudden cardiac death. 

According to Price, “We really get to see the most up-to-date research on important topics in sports medicine. This allows us to take the best care of our patients back home.”

MSKI also made a big splash at the conference’s fellowship forum. MSKI had three primary care sports medicine fellowships represented at the forum, one from each of the following locations: Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center, Atrium Health Cabarrus and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

Diverse learning opportunities

Over the years, the conference has been refined to create opportunities for many different physicians and non-physicians to practice and develop skills as well as gain and share knowledge.

The use of ultrasound and orthobiologics are two recent hot topics in sports medicine. Ultrasound is a clinical tool that can be used for both diagnosing and providing therapeutic treatments (injections). Orthobiologic injections are biologic therapies designed to use your body’s own cells to stimulate healing in a way that we’ve not been able to before.

Many sports medicine specialists at Atrium Health offer these options. The conference allowed these providers to learn and discuss the latest research in the use of these diagnostic techniques, work alongside seasoned experts who have been using this technology and practice these methods on the wrist, knee and hip.

Not only did attendees hear from AMSSM members, but they also enjoyed a wide array of presenters including international leaders, athletes, orthopedic surgeons, mental health specialists, cardiologists and endocrinologists. Bringing in professional athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and professional directors allowed for different points of view as well. Together, all of these experts comprise a team approach for Atrium Health to use and provide the best care is provided to athletes and patients.

Future growth

MSKI’s sports medicine program continues to grow utilizing a variety of our licensed healthcare providers – athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports medicine specialists and orthopedists. As our organization also expands, MSKI teammates want to ensure that they’re utilizing the skill set of the system’s primary care sports medicine physicians and support them at various locations across the enterprise allowing for specialty care to start in each community. Continuing to participate in the AMSSM is one way to reach that goal.