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Mississippi Sports Medicine wraps up expansion

Jackson — The burgeoning demand for sports medicine prompted Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center to double its one-stop shop for people with sports injuries.
Mississippi Sports Medicine recently completed a 20,000-square-foot expansion to its facility on Fortification Street, devoting 7,500 square feet to its physical therapy department. It is now the largest all-in-one sports medicine clinic in the state, featuring new therapies for patients.

“We thought it would benefit patients in the community and us so we could take better care of our patients and hopefully improve their clinical outcomes,” said staff physician Dr. James O’Mara, who specializes in lower extremity injuries. “It was also convenient for patients who only had to go one place to see their physician, get X-rays and MRIs and their physical therapy.”

In 1984, three Jackson-area physicians opened Mississippi Sports Medicine specializing in the treatment of orthopedic problems and athletic injuries using the latest technology and state-of-the-art equipment. Drs. J.O. Manning, Walter Shelton and Gene Barrett established the practice near River Oaks Hospital and moved to the renovated State Farm Insurance building on Fortification Street in 1987. The next year, the group narrowed its focus to subspecialties.

In the early years, Mississippi Sports Medicine contracted space to a physical therapy group, but as the practice grew, the clinic took over the space and began providing physical therapy services in-house, said Bob Lodes, clinic administrator.

“Then it became the best of all worlds,” he said. “As progressive as the field had gotten, it worked well to know physical therapists were right next door. And for them, knowing physicians were down the hall allowed rehabilitation to be more productive.”

The physical therapy department now features some of the newest equipment on the market, including the Hivamat 200, a therapy machine that applies deep oscillation on targeted tissues. A unique traction table provides access to cervical lumbar and carpal tunnel traction. An indoor pool has space for shallow and deep-water therapy, and features an underwater treadmill, bike and other amenities.

“Mostly, we’re seeing a lot of weekend warriors, the Baby Boomers who are still trying to be as active as they once were, and they’re developing some problems because their bodies aren’t holding up as well, and when they injure themselves, they’re not recovering as quickly,” said Alan Whitfield, athletic trainer and physical therapist and clinical director. “We’re also seeing a lot of high school and college athletes. Last season, two basketball starters tore their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) within two weeks of each other, which ended their season, so we focused on getting them back on the court this year.”

About 60% of physical therapy patients are non-surgical or pre-surgery, Whitfield pointed out.

“We’re always trying, and the staff physicians are good about this, to take a conservative approach first,” he said. “I just worked with a lady that may have a torn rotator cuff. They’re doing an MRI on her, but the doctor sent her here first, prior to going under the knife. If physical therapy isn’t working, there’s a significant problem.”

Non-contact ACL injuries are more common in women, with shoulder injuries being common ailments among Baby Boomers playing tennis or golf, noted Whitfield.

“Much of that has to do with posture,” he said. “We’re not doing as much manual labor as our forefathers. We sit behind a desk. We’re sedentary. And our shoulders start to slide forward. When the shoulder’s not lining up correctly, it’s prone to injury.”

Most young athletes report strains, sprains or tears in their ankles or knees, Whitfield said.

“The biggest reason for injury is a lack of flexibility,” he said. “Before participating in a sport, athletes should stretch. A lot.”

Through Mississippi Sports Medicine’s community outreach program, three athletic trainers work with area schools’ athletic departments.

“If an injury occurs during a game, we can evaluate it to see if the player can return,” said Whitfield. “It’s icing on the cake when we have a doctor on the sidelines. To help prevent injuries, we go to some practices, too. Coaches are going to have the players stretch, but working with them allows us to provide some education, not only making sure they’re doing the correct stretches, but also that they’re doing them correctly. Hydration is important, too, especially in the Deep South in August, when they’re doing two-a-days.”

The expanded facility also features a six-station wet lab learning center for teaching surgical procedures on cadaveric specimens, where orthopaedic fellows and surgeons from around the world visit to learn leading edge surgical practices. A high-tech media center includes a 37-seat auditorium with Internet access, and features the ability to broadcast surgical procedures from local hospitals and to healthcare centers nationwide. It’s also the first clinic of its kind in Mississippi to highlight digital X-rays.

“For a private practice to have teaching facilities normally associated with a university is very unusual,” said O’Mara.

Mississippi Sports Medicine’s yearlong dual sports medicine and orthopaedic fellowship program has garnered attention worldwide from physicians seeking subspecialty skills. Some of the 40 fellows who have completed the program represent Italy, Australia and the Philippines. Every August, four fellows begin the 12-month program rotating every six weeks with five physicians. Before the program is completed, each fellow will have participated in 400 knee surgeries, 500 shoulder surgeries and numerous elbow, wrist and ankle procedures. Fellows for 2006 have already been selected, and more than 100 applicants have applied for the 2007 program.

“With our expanded facility, interest in the fellowship program has gone through the roof,” said Lodes.

When a new doctor joins the staff next July, 10 physicians will comprise Mississippi Sports Medicine’s medical staff. The expansion bumped clinic employment to more than 100.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

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