December 19, 2013

St. Louis Review Story Details SLU-Archdiocese Sports Medicine Partnership

Partnership keeps student athletes safe and in game

Created 12/18/2013 - 6:11pm
Submitted on December 18, 2013
By: Zac Boesch |

St. Mary's and Bishop DuBourg high schools have teamed with St. Louis University in a three-year pilot program to provide on-site sports medicine for athletes during competition and practice.

"They're in the city. They're our neighbors. It makes sense to reach out," said Anthony Breitbach ATC, director of the athletic training program at SLU's Doisy College of Health Sciences. The program is provided to the schools free of charge by SLU Hospital through a grant. After the fall sports season, the program received positive reviews from students, parents and coaches.

"It is unquantifiable in words how much it helped," Alex DeMatteis, head varsity football coach at St. Mary's, said. He never went more than 24 hours without understanding his students' injuries.

Bridget Quirk ATC preps athletes before the Bishop Dubourg-St. Mary's football game.
"The ability to take it out of our hands as non-medical professionals and give it over to a medical professional, it just frees you of the anxiety," DeMatteis said of how decisions about things such as concussions used to be in the hands of coaches. When something goes wrong he tells students to go see "Coach Q," as Bridget Quirk ATC, athletic trainer for both schools, has come to be called. Quirk said students and parents are still learning all the services she can provide. Though people often think of athletic trainers providing only acute care, Breitbach said, the main task of athletic trainers is primary care as they see the athletes every day. Mark Hacker, athletic director at St. Mary's, said the importance of rehab also cannot be overstated as the previous protocol was to rest the injury. Now students are provided with exercises and stretches to aid recovery.

The partnership also provides accelerated access to care in orthopedic sports medicine clinic. Dr. Scott Kaar and Dr. Adnan Cutuk, both SLUCare orthopedic surgeons, were on the sidelines of home football games for the two schools. Previously, most students would go to general practice doctors, which would often take longer. DeMatteis said everything is expedited and the health professionals and coaches have the same goals of getting players back on the field as soon as possible in the safest manner.

Bishop DuBourg athletic director Daniel Borkowski said Quirk has been busy between the two schools sports programs, though he often tells her before games that he hopes she won't be busy. Borkowski said the expense of employing an athletic trainer had prevented them before but now they are very fortunate to be partnering with SLU.

When asked throughout the season which of the two rival teams she cheers for, Quirk said she does not show favorites, instead focusing on the welfare of the students.

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