Dr. Brian Shafer works with a patient at the HMG Sports Injury Clinic. Photo by David Grace.
If your student-athlete sustains an injury during his Friday night football game, you now have the option of having him evaluated the very next day by a team of specially trained sports medicine providers.
HMG recently opened a sports injury clinic within the HMG Urgent Care building on West Stone Drive in Kingsport.
This new clinic is open from 9 a.m. to noon, every Saturday through the conclusion of football season.
Dr. Brian Shafer is one of the clinic’s primary care providers.
“For the athlete who may have had a severe ankle sprain from earlier in the week, we have the distinction of being able to have an athletic trainer on site who can immediately get the (student-athlete) started on the rehabilitation process and maybe also start some physical therapy that day. I don’t think this is something that’s been offered around here before. Starting treatment early may assist with getting them back on the field as soon as possible,” Shafer said.
In addition to Shafer, the other medical experts who round out the HMG Sports Injury Clinic’s care team include primary care provider, Dr. Emily Campbell; orthopedist, Dr. Greg Purnell; and athletic trainer, Mike Larkin.
“If parents have any questions at all about whether there’s been an injury sustained, and they don’t want to wait to bring their child in on Monday morning to see a physician, we will be there every Saturday morning to see their child,” Shafer said.
Any kind of sports-related injury — from ankle sprains to concussions — can be evaluated at the clinic, Shafer said.
And it is concussions, in particular, that have been in the news a lot lately, with much of the focus on the long-term effects of these head injuries. Several former professional and college football players have filed suits against both the NFL and NCAA, claiming the organizations failed to educate players about the risks of concussions and did not do enough to prevent, diagnose and treat brain injuries.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine reports that high school football is consistently shown in studies to be the sport with the greatest proportion of concussions. In a 2011 study, concussions accounted for nearly 15 percent of all sports-related injuries that were reported to athletic trainers in high schools across the nation.
Shafer says he and Campbell will be the providers at the clinic who can diagnose and treat an athlete’s concussion.
“The key is going to be rest, especially in the initial weekend after they’ve sustained a concussion,” he said. “There are several signs that someone has sustained a concussion — headache, confusion, sleeping more or less frequently, noise and light sensitivity, and difficulty with balance.”
Besides rest, early treatment for a concussion includes acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the headache.
“Rest is the main treatment, but don’t just sit around and watch TV. That can actually make the headache worse. Limit TV time, computer time and texting. Any type of increased mental function can actually make the symptoms last longer,” Shafer said.
Even though this is just the first year of HMG’s sports injury clinic, Shafer hopes it will be well-received and perhaps be available during other sports seasons in the area.
“With this being the first year, we targeted it to open in the fall because that’s when, especially with your contact sports like football, you have a much higher rate of injuries. We’ll see how it plays out, though. It may be something we continue,” he said.
The HMG Sports Injury Clinic is located at 105 W. Stone Drive. Patients should check in at the Urgent Care office and request a sports injury doctor. No appointment is necessary.
For more information, call (423) 230-2420 or visit holstonmedicalgroup.com.