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UD Flyers Score with “Assists” from MVH Sports Medicine Center

There’s nothing University of Dayton men’s basketball coaches and fans hate to see more than an athlete injured during a game. A player goes down, and the first question on everyone’s mind is: Will he be able to compete again and how soon? To get members of the basketball team back on the court as soon as possible, a team of physicians and athletic trainers assembles to assess the injury within minutes. For that, UD relies on a number of Miami Valley Hospital experts who serve as consultants to the team.

Unique Medicine for Athletes

Sean R. Convery, MD, medical director of MVH’s Sports Medicine Center and an associate clinical professor at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, is one such expert. He coordinates the sports medicine care for all UD athletic teams and serves as their team physician. Dr. Convery says the same intensity that drives fans to games motivates specialists like him to treat an injured athlete as quickly as possible.

“Timing is critical both on the court and off,” says Dr. Convery. “We know from experience if we start treatment right away, we can get athletes back in the game much quicker than if treatment were delayed.”

“These MVH specialists are a valuable part of the Athletics Division,” says Joe Owens, associate director of Athletics at UD. “You can’t compete in Division I level basketball without them.”

It’s not unusual for physicians to work after hours when a player suffers a serious injury, explains Joe. Studies are often done within 24 hours of an injury and reviewed by a sports medicine team, composed of primary care physicians and orthopedic consultants like Timothy P. Quinn, MD, associate director of Sports Medicine, Strategic Planning and Business Development at MVH. Dr. Quinn, who practices with Far Oaks Orthopedists and is a clinical associate professor of surgery atWSU Boonshoft School of Medicine, has been the orthopedic surgeon for the UD men’s basketball team for the past 20 years.

Getting Players Back in the Game

Two UD basketball players who recently required the quick care of MVH physicians are Chris Wright and Mickey Perry. Both ended up in surgery with Dr. Quinn.

Chris, a junior forward from Trotwood, came down after making a layup in January 2008 and sustained a medial malleolus (inside ankle bone) fracture. Unfortunately the break put him on the bench for the rest of the pre-tournament season. To treat this severe fracture, Dr. Quinn needed to insert screws during surgery.

Dr. Quinn says that, while the health of an athlete is his primary concern, saving the career of a rising young star like Chris also weighs on his mind. [Chris led the Flyers in scoring and rebounding in the 2008-09 season.]

Even after a serious injury, players work out to remain in top physical shape. While Chris was sidelined and waiting for his injury to heal, he undertook a rigorous training program developed especially for him.

In the case of Mickey Perry, who plays the guard position, sports medicine specialists were initially concerned with loose cartilage in his knee. In July of this year, he suffered further damage during a workout. Dr. Quinn determined surgery was his only option for full recovery.

Everyone in the department does whatever it takes to ensure the athletes remain healthy. For example, athletic trainers, strength coaches and sports medicine rehabilitation experts observe Dr. Quinn’s surgeries to formulate a better rehabilitation plan.

As with all athletes recovering from surgery, MVH sports medicine experts continued to monitor Chris and Mickey closely, ensuring they received optimum physical care. Fortunately, after surgery and rehabilitation, both Chris and Mickey are fully recovered, and both are looking forward to the 2009-10 season.

In addition to Dr. Convery and Dr. Quinn, four other physicians serve the team as consultants. “We have a long-time relationship with these doctors, who are passionate about UD sports and can work well with athletes competing at every level of college sports,” explains Joe.

MVH team physicians and orthopedic consultants work with up to 450 student athletes and perform up to 40 surgeries per year. “We look for the best in town,” adds Joe. “Our athletes get the same treatment that anybody training for the Olympics or playing in the National Basketball Association would get.”

Focusing on Total Health Care

About three years ago, Joe Owens was charged with instituting an Athletic Performance Enhancement program, a concept that ties together all the health needs of athletes. “We put sports medicine, strength training, nutrition and sports psychology under one umbrella. In a lot of schools, they are run separately. We see them as overlapping.”

In addition to improving athletic performance, this approach is geared toward a major goal: preventing injuries. Joe says that’s one reason having a head team physician like Dr. Convery is required by the NCAA.

Dr. Convery and his colleague, H. Dusty Rhodes, DO, work with the UD men’s basketball team on all aspects of their primary health care. This includes treating minor illnesses, as well as diagnosis and treatment of health problems like diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

“We have someone working with UD athletes in the training room pretty much every day,” says Dr. Convery.

Another goal of these sports medicine experts is getting to know athletes on a personal level. “You need to understand what kind of person you’re dealing with as well as his injuries or illnesses,” Dr. Convery adds. “It’s important to build a level of trust with each individual athlete.”

Some pressure comes along withthe job. All the fans want players like Chris and Mickey back on the court, but Dr. Quinn takes a conservative approach because getting back in the game too soon may cause a more permanent injury the next time.

Dr. Convery is used to fans begging for the “scoop” on injured players. “Even if I know exactly when they’ll be back, I can’t discuss details of individual injuries.” The persistent questions don’t bother him, though. He understands it’s part of the role he plays as a sports medicine consultant. “There’s always a sense of urgency at this level of college basketball. It’s a huge focus of this whole community. Everyone follows the story of an injured athlete.”

For the Love of Sports

One of the reasons Drs. Convery and Quinn are willing to receive a call in the middle of the night relating to a UD athlete is the love they have for athletes and competition.

Dr. Convery has always had a passion for sports. He’s been working with UD athletes for ten years. “This is a way for me to stay involved in sports,” he says. “The players are so energetic. I have a lot of pride in being even a small part of their success.”

Dr. Quinn comes from a football family. His father, Joe, played at UD from 1939-1942 and coached Flyer football from 1947-53. Dr. Quinn (aka “Tank”) played linebacker for UD’s Division I team from 1969 to 1973. “It’s been my goal to come back to UD sports. I feel very blessed,” explains Dr. Quinn.

“Dr. Quinn bleeds red and blue,” laughs Joe Owens. “He will do anything for us at any time.”

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