Sports Medicine Professionals, Scholars Gather at U.Va. to Sharpen Skills

June 5, 2012 — Though the school year has wound down, in a few short months, student-athletes will bid farewell to summer and return to their classrooms and fields of competition. An integral part of these students' well being depends on a team of well-trained sports medicine practitioners gathered on the sidelines of sporting events from middle school through the collegiate level play.

To stay on top of the latest research and practice in sports medicine, many of these practitioners will join scholars and students at the 40th annual "Art and Science of Sports Medicine" conference, being held this week at the University of Virginia.

At this year's conference, taking place at the Curry School of Education's Bavaro Hall, current research on sports-related injuries, concussions and the evolution of sports medicine are among the topics being examined.

Keynote speakers include Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedist widely recognized for having performed surgery on some of the most famous athletes of our time, and Kevin Guskiewicz, an expert on sports-related concussions and 2011 MacArthur "genius" grant recipient.

A leader in its field, U.Va.'s Kinesiology Program is hosting the conference, which has been held on Grounds since 1972.

"The conference provides the attendees the opportunity to learn from and interact with some of the foremost experts in athletic training and sports medicine," said Jay Hertel, the Joe Gieck Professor in Sports Medicine at and co-planner of the conference. "They will be able to apply what they learn about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of athletic injuries directly in their clinical practices and ultimately improve the health and safety of the athletes and patients that they work with."

A longtime leading figure of the conference is Joe Gieck, former U.Va. head athletic trainer and Curry School professor emeritus. Gieck noted that the event is the longest-running sports medicine conference in the country, which he attributes to the high-level practitioners who present and attend– "a who's who in sports medicine throughout the country," he said.

This year's lineup is no exception.

Andrews, who will speak on the "Perspectives of the Team Physician" on Friday at 11:30 a.m., is a household name among sports junkies. He has performed surgery on such athletes as Super Bowl MVPs Drew Brees, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Doug Williams; Hall of Fame golfer Jack Nicklaus; NBA MVPs,Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson; and leading Major League Baseball players, including John Smoltz, Andy Pettitte and Jim Thome.

In addition to his work aiding athletes in their recovery from injury, Andrews also spends a great deal of effort to prevent them from occurring. He is co-chair of Stop Sports Injuries, an organization that is putting a great deal of emphasis on youth sports injury prevention.

According to the organization's website, "professional-level" injuries among youth sports participants are on the rise, and adolescents are experiencing overuse injuries at younger and younger ages. These types of injuries can have long-term impacts on the youth who sustain them.

"Anyone's list of the most influential international experts in sports medicine would include Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz," Hertel said. "Through their clinical, research and educational work, they have influenced the health and well-being of athletes across the globe."

Guskiewicz, a 1995 graduate of U.Va.'s Kinesiology Program, is an expert on sports-related concussions. With the number of concussion-related lawsuits filed by former players against the NFL increasing to 80 as of May 22, according to NFL's Paul Anderson, head trauma is gaining more and more attention.

That is also the case in youth sports, where concussions are among the most commonly reported injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Guskiewicz, who will speak on "Concussions in Sport" on Thursday at 8:50 a.m., has played an important role in raising awareness about the prevalence and dangers of sports-related brain injuries in professional and youth athletics. He is the founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and research director of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes. He currently serves as Kenan Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

"Having speakers of this quality return to U.Va. to present at our conference provides our students and conference attendees with an unparalleled educational experience in sports medicine," Hertel said.

Conference attendees include students at the Curry School and other institutions, professional and collegiate athletic trainers, physical therapists and other sports medicine-related personnel. Participants can receive course credit for attending.

A full schedule of the pre-conference and conference is available here.


Media: If you would like to speak with a presenter, including Andrews or Guskiewicz, please contact Audrey Breen at 434-242-5291.