Each time a Wichita State basketball student-athlete thrills the crowd with a jumper or a blocked shot this season, a team from Via Christi is right alongside them, making sure they’re ready for the next play.
Via Christi Sports Medicine is the exclusive provider of athletic training and medical services for Wichita State student-athletes, a key role that helps keep the Shockers going strong on the court, field or track.
It’s the same quality of care that patients who seek treatment at the Via Christi Sports Medicine Clinic get every day.
“Winning or losing, weekend warrior or star athlete, it’s the same care,” says Mark Stovak, MD, medical director for Via Christi Sports Medicine. “We treat all athletes the same — it’s what they deserve.”
Though fans might notice athletic trainers or team physicians if there’s an injury on the court, the role of the sports medicine team goes far beyond those key, visible moments.
Todd Fagan, an assistant athletic trainer assigned to the WSU men’s basketball team, serves as a coordinator for the players’ healthcare needs. He performs treatment and rehabilitation in the athletic training room prior to practice, watches practices to detect possible injuries among players, assesses those injuries, treats student-athletes after practices and games, and is courtside for games in case there is an injury.
Fagan works with a team to make sure student-athletes stay healthy, including:
- Undergraduate athletic training students, who help with treatments and day-to-day operations.
- Via Christi physicians and physicians at Advanced Orthopaedic Associates, who perform preseason physicals, and diagnose and treat injured student athletes.
- WSU coaches, who seek advice on which student-athletes should sit out or have limited practice or game action.
- Strength and conditioning staff members, who can help student-athletes through injuries or limit their activities to reduce the chance of injury.
“We all must be on the same boat, rowing in the same direction,” Fagan says. “Communication is key. Everybody has to be on the same page.”
Dr. Stovak says ankle sprains, shin splints and bone bruises are the most common injuries he sees, both among elite athletes and among the patients at the Sports Medicine Clinic. Treatment options differ, in part, based on the athlete’s personal goals.
“Usually, there are multiple ways to treat an injury,” he says, noting that someone wanting to run a marathon the next week might opt for treatment different from someone willing to sit out a month to rest. “But either way, most everybody we see wants to get back to the activities they were doing before the injury.”
When it comes to the Shocker men’s basketball team, the health professionals looking after student-athletes say the team’s recent success — a Final Four in 2013 and an undefeated regular season in 2013-2014—doesn’t affect their day-to-day operations much.
“But if you love sports,” says Kenneth Jansson, MD, medical director for Via Christi Orthopedic Sports Medicine and an orthopedic surgeon at Advanced Orthopaedic Associates, “it’s a lot of fun to be around that level of a team.”
Adds Fagan: “You’re around these student-athletes every day. You end up being an ear for them — you hear about their successes and their troubles. These guys are highly competitive and your job is to keep them as safe as possible. You really want to help them find a way to succeed.”