Many healthcare professionals advertise that they perform Sports Medicine because they happened to have treated some athletes. However, sports medicine has a very broad definition. True Sports Medicine requires more than just treating an athlete. It requires open communication between several individual disciplines: the coach, the athlete (and parent), the physician, the athletic trainer (when applicable), the strength coach (when applicable), and the Physical Therapist. Sports Medicine is the combination of any and all of these disciplines working together in the common goal of getting the athlete back on the court or field safely as soon as possible. At SOPT we encourage and facilitate the communication between professionals to make sure the athlete’s best interests are emphasized and the goals and timelines of rehabilitation are established and agreed upon by all parties. This has to be done with open communication.
The best way to understand the needs of an injured athlete is to have been in his or her shoes at one time. All of the physical therapists at SOPT have participated in competitive athletic activity at some point in their lives: Jason Ulisse, PT, CSCS – Baseball, Basketball; Freddy Pinhancos, MSPT – Soccer, Hockey; Amanda Smith, DPT – Track and Field, Basketball; Sean McCluskie, DPT – Basketball and Baseball. We have all dealt with injuries as well giving us a deeper understanding of the emotional and psychological needs of the athlete. Our PT’s also understand the drive to get back on the field as soon as possible yet are able to balance it with a broader view of whole picture. This may include discussing which sport is more important and the difference between playing all season with a nagging injury vs. playing less than a full season but being completely healthy. This type of discussion and service is not something that a health insurance company will reimburse us for yet we provide this type of consultation as a part of the athlete’s treatment.
As previously stated true Sports Medicine requires more than just a standard treatment. In order to safely assess whether an athlete is ready to return to the field, our PT’s have an underlying working knowledge of many of the common sports that are played. Having participated in many sports and activities throughout our lifetimes, we understand many of the physical requirements and movements required for many of the athletic activities being played today. This gives us an advantage when prescribing the appropriate exercise program and bracing to get the athlete back on the field faster yet safely.
At SOPT we have a “do whatever it takes” attitude when it comes to sports medicine. An example of this is that when an athlete is injured, the sooner rehab can begin, the sooner they can be back out on the field. In order for this to happen, an athlete must be seen ASAP and at SOPT we will put in the extra time (by staying late or coming in early) to make sure their rehab is initiated quickly. We also have extensive hours of operation (7AM-7PM) for convenient scheduling with less disruption of the athlete’s many responsibilities (school work, practice, film study).
Lastly, in order “talk the talk”, you have to “walk the walk”. We do this with our active participation in many athletic arenas around the community. For the past 10 years Jason Ulisse has been coordinating athletic trainer coverage for football games for the Warwick School System. He also works closely with the Warwick Vets Football program going down to the fields once a week and providing onsite injury assessment and treatment recommendations to the injured players. He also has provided training services and onsite treatment for the Festival Ballet Providence from 2002-2009. Sean McCluskie continues to be involved with baseball and also plays in several softball leagues, and Freddy Pinhancos has provided assistance to elite level club soccer teams. Amanda Smith was an assistant coach for the Prout Track and Field team last spring and assisted Jason at the fields this past fall at Warwick Vets High School. While these activities continue to keep us busy and motivated, we are always looking for more opportunities to become directly involved in competitive sports activities.