Beginning on Saturday after the first football game for area schools, Seton Medical Center Williamson hosts a Fall Sports Medicine Clinic to support young, injured athletes in our community. The clinic offers comprehensive care, including treatment provided by an orthopedic specialist and on-site imaging.
Clinic physician, Erik J. Bruce, MD, is a Board-certified orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training in sports medicine. He developed an interest in Saturday sports clinics in medical school, when he volunteered in area clinics around New Orleans.
"The basic premise of the Saturday clinic is that it covers the football season. Football is an aggressive sport where many athletes sustain injuries. Sometimes the injury is not severe enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room the night of the game, but the next day, the player may still need to be examined. This is where coaches, parents and players can have the injury evaluated by a qualified sports medicine physician," says Dr. Bruce.
He played football himself, beginning in the 7th grade and finishing up as captain of the Tulane University football team, so he understands the value of Saturday morning sports clinics.
"If a player gets injured, it helps to have a physician evaluate him. Athletes want to return to the game. Quicker diagnosis and treatment if necessary helps them get back on the field."
The Saturday clinic is open to all athletes from any sport in grades 7 through 12. "I even treated a tuba player from the band who took a spill down the bleachers," remembers Dr. Bruce. "I also often see soccer players or cheerleaders in addition to football players during football season."
A survey by the Centers for Disease Control conducted during the 2005 - 2006 school year estimated that 7.2 million students now participate in some form of athletics in high school. From those student athletes, about 2 million injuries occur which result in half a million doctor visits and 30,000 hospital visits annually. Although school-based sports programs promote many positive things, including increased exercise and team participation, injuries sometimes will occur. Few parents would discourage their children from athletics. But they can watch out for signs and symptoms that would indicate a player should be evaluated.
"Shoulder, ankle and knee problems are the most common injuries we evaluate," says Dr. Bruce. "A separated shoulder is not unusual. Knee problems can include sprains or tears of ligaments or damage to cartilage of the knee. I also see lots of sprained ankles, broken bones in the hand or feet, and occasionally broken leg bones or forearm injuries."
"It's not uncommon for an ankle to be so painful an athlete can't walk. Our job is to figure out whether it is a sprain or a break. Parents should watch out for signs that the injury should be checked that can include: swelling, redness, bruising or heat in addition to the pain. If your athlete has trouble sleeping secondary to pain, that may also indicate an injury."
Playing And Pain
"The Saturday clinic is here to take care of young athletes," reiterates Dr. Bruce. "Sometimes players get hurt. It's helpful that there is someone available who understands and can treat the injury and get the player back to the sport. We can consult with players, parents and coaches and tell them what is involved."
Dr. Bruce believes in teaching athletes how to recognize signs of injury in their own bodies.
"An important aspect is for a player to be taught the difference between injury and pain. It's not always clear. If you continue to play on a serious injury, this situation can result in permanent irrevocable damage. That's where sports medicine comes in differentiating season ending injuries from those that can be surgically repaired after the end of the season."
Erik J. Bruce, MD
201 Seton Parkway
Round Rock, TX 78665
Dr. Bruce completed his undergraduate, medical degree and orthopedic residency at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He then completed a fellowship in sports medicine with Dr. Michael Brunet.
Board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, he is a member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America, Texas Medical Association, Texas Orthopaedic Association and the Williamson County Medical Society.
His practice specializes in sports medicine, arthroscopic surgery of the knee and shoulder, as well as knee reconstruction.