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Gamecocks Sports Medicine Staff Hosts Successful Youth Injury Mini-Seminar

Feb. 7, 2008

Columbia, S.C. - The USC Sports Medicine Department recently hosted the 26th annual Injuries in Baseball Course presented by the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) here in Columbia, S.C. The mini-seminar featured Dr. James Andrews, one of the nation's premier experts on sports medicine and a renowned member of the USC faculty as well as current South Carolina team physicians including Dr. Jeff Guy and Dr. Chris Mazoue as well as several members of the South Carolina Athletic Training staff.

"For us, here in Columbia, to be able to have this conference was really tremendous," said University of South Carolina director of sports medicine John Kasik. "We had speakers and doctors coming in from all over the country to speak. Not only was it good for us to host it as USC Sports Medicine and to have our involvement and to have some of our people speaking, but also it was good for the city. We had over 200 people come in for this conference. It was good for everybody. I think it went over really well."

The prestige of the conference was a coup for the University of South Carolina and Columbia and as Kasik pointed out, a tribute to the work of the USC Sports Medicine Department and the University of South Carolina Athletic Training staff. Kasik mentioned the influence of Dr. Jeff A. Guy, and Dr. Christopher Mazoue, in helping to bring the conference to Columbia. Both Guy and Mazoue serve as team physicians for the University of South Carolina.

"Dr. Mazoue and I trained with Dr. Andrews and did a sports medicine fellowship for a year," said Dr. Jeff Guy. "He's a very close mentor of ours and a consultant here at the university with athletics and he holds a clinical position here in our department in orthopedic surgery. We're very close with him and he came and talked at our local sports medicine conference that we put on two or three years ago. We had a conversation with him at that point in time and we expressed interest in him bringing it here and so we spent the last two years elbowing him into it. They were really excited about it, and they actually said that this was one of the best places they've ever had it."

The purpose of the seminar and the course presented by Dr. Andrews and the ASMI is to provide education concerning pitching and the serious injuries in adolescent pitchers. One alarming statistic that the ASMI points out is that during the last five years of the 1990's, 21 of the 190 "Tommy John" surgeries at the center were high school age pitchers or younger; however during the first five years of this decade, 124 of 627 "Tommy John" surgeries were high school age pitchers or younger.

The negative trend toward injuries in young players brought the ASMI together in study with USA Baseball, Little League Baseball and Major League Baseball. Education has become essential and the conference served as an important part of getting the word out on adolescent injuries.

"It's important because of the types of injuries these kids are getting," said Dr. Guy. "A lot of it's coming from overuse and that's the biggest portion of it. The only real people that are in control of that overuse are the parents. If a child is playing on three different teams, it's hard to put the responsibility of that overuse on the teams. It's the fact that they're playing on three teams that's the problem. You can follow the rules as far as not playing them too much on each individual team, but if they're playing on three teams; the overuse is coming from that. Unless you hold the leagues responsible, which is hard to do, you can hopefully educate the parents because that's where the responsibility lies. Unfortunately right now the education process comes in after the injuries already occurred so we're trying to give preemptive education to keep the kids from getting hurt."

Unlike in past years and in past cities, USC decided to try something a little different during the conference and that was to open it up to the general public and not just to physicians and athletic trainers. With the goal of education and teaching about the injuries to kids in youth baseball, the staff at South Carolina decided the forum could be more beneficial with public involvement.

"I think it's more of the healthcare professionals learning to teach their patients, their athletes, and that trickles down," said Kasik. "We did a really neat thing at this conference to open it up to the general public and hear about "Tommy John" surgeries and hear what's happening in youth baseball. It was free for them. They advertised it pretty well. I think it was good for us to invite the general public because at most conferences that you go to, especially medical conferences, the general public is not encouraged to come. It's usually a moneymaking thing, for one thing, but it's also an educational thing. You have to target your talks to the people that you're talking to. If you have a physician in the room and a mother of three that stays home and is a soccer mom, there's a big level of gap there knowledge-wise so you have to trigger your talks to those people. This worked out pretty well from what I understand."

"A little over 150 people came to view the session," said Dr. Guy. "We then had a community panel, which had the people that spoke in the session, USC head baseball coach Ray Tanner, and a couple of the other physicians to just sit down and it was a great setting that the community could come in and ask the experts questions. We got everything from when should kids start throwing curve balls to should I hold them out during the year, should I not let them play on more than one team. We had really good discussions."

Along with Dr. Guy, Dr. Mazoue, and Kasik, other speakers throughout the week and the seminar included current USC athletic trainers for baseball and softball, Brainard Cooper and Erin Thomas. Also involved were USC primary care physicians Dr. Brian Keisler, and Dr. Jason J. Stacy. Current Gamecock nutritionist Deborah Zippel, M.S., R.D. also spoke on nutritional supplements.

"I am very happy to tell people about what I have learned through the years," said Brainard Cooper, athletic trainer at South Carolina. "I have been going to these conferences for years learning new things, so I was very excited to get to speak this year. I was talking about how to manage shoulder pain in a college thrower, and the throwing athlete. It had seemed like all the presentations the days before lead up to what I was going to talk about. On Friday, Dr. Andrews made a couple of points I was going to talk about but did not expand of them. Then, on Saturday somebody else said a little more and on Sunday morning the presenters said even more stuff, and it fell right into place on what I was going to discuss. I wish I could get to do this every year. It was just such a great experience for me."

In general, the University of South Carolina medical staff was pleased with the event and excited about how it was received throughout the medical community and with the ASMI. Along with that, happy for the opportunity for the students at South Carolina and graduate assistants to be a part of the conference and to learn in the education process of protecting young pitching arms.

"We were very well represented at the conference," said Kasik. "Every day we had at least 10-12 people there (representing South Carolina). Even with the schedules that they have around here with sports and practices and so forth, they were able to get in there and listen to conferences. I think it was great for us to have our people there to be able to list because it is such an important conference."

"The event exceeded our expectations," said Dr. Guy. "It's a big deal putting on this conference on the national level but Kevin Herod and Kenyon Foster, our two athletic trainers in our office were tremendous help. They were our local resources and they did a tremendous job with the outreach in the community and plus setting things up with the hotel and the convention center."

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