One Stop Shop

Orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist team up to keep athletes active

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NEW ALBANY, IN Young athletes deserve top-notch prevention and treatment interventions for sports-related injuries that can be provided by a multi-disciplinary team. Floyd Memorial Medical Group – Orthopedics in New Albany, Indiana provides these services for the Kentuckiana area.

Kris Abeln, MD, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Floyd Memorial, describes their practice as a “one stop shop” for sports medicine. “We provide all levels of service from evaluation, surgery, and non-surgical treatment to rehabilitation and prevention,” he says. Abeln describes his practice as 80 percent sports medicine with most patients in the young teen to middle age range. “Our clients include high school and college athletes, as well as recreational athletes,” he says. A graduate of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Abeln completed his sports medicine fellowship in Santa Monica, California, where he worked with high school, college, and professional athletes. He is board certified in sports medicine and orthopedics.

Team Physician

Abeln is a team physician for the University of Louisville and Indiana University Southeast and works with several local high school sports teams. In this role, he is involved in athletic training, injury clinics, advising coaches and players, and treating sports-related injuries. “Common sports injuries include sprains, strains, fractures, and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and rotator cuff tears,” says Abeln.

Philosophy of Prevention

“My guiding philosophy is prevention of sports injuries,” says Abeln. Prevention includes educating coaches, players, and parents on such issues as stretching, strengthening exercises, and rest. “I’m a strong believer in injury prevention clinics for all athletes and trainers,” he says. Abeln’s training included a fellowship in the PEP (Prevent Injury – Enhance Performance) program, developed by the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation to reduce risk of ACL injury in organized sports (1).

Treatment: Avoiding, Minimizing Surgery

Abeln utilizes non-surgical treatment whenever possible, including rest, physical therapy, rehab, and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. “If surgery is required, I can perform surgeries such as no-incision ACL reconstruction and minimally invasive hip arthroscopy. These procedures have a faster recovery time with reduced blood loss, pain, and swelling,” states Abeln.

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

“Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is a way to harness the body’s own healing power,” says Abeln. This short procedure involves collection of blood, centrifuge to concentrate platelets and growth factors, and injection of the autologous PRP into the area of injury. PRP, used by many famous athletes, has shown promise in recovery from sprains, strains, and tendonitis of knees, elbows, shoulders, and heels, as well as other applications (2). “PRP can be a good alternative to arthroscopic surgery, especially for meniscus tears and partial rotator cuff tears,” says Abeln.

Role of Physical Therapy

The physical therapist (PT) plays an integral role in sports medicine practice by performing evaluation, injury prevention, and rehabilitation post injury/surgery. Nate Nevin PT, DPT, has provided these services at Floyd Memorial Physical Therapy – Highlander Point for five years. Nevin, who received his doctorate in physical therapy from Bellarmine University, enjoys treating a multitude of orthopedic injuries by implementing an evidence-based approach to rehabilitation. “I treat each patient on an individual basis,” says Nevin, who starts with a full body exam to identify underlying issues, such as weakness of the core or other areas of the body that can lead to sports injury. “Rest and strengthening can be the main treatment as players become more specialized in sports, repeating the same movements versus playing multiple sports that develop overall athleticism,” states Nevin.

Baseball Physical Therapist

As a former starting pitcher for the Bellarmine Knights, Nevin receives great satisfaction from treating young athletes. He’s known as the “Baseball PT,” focusing on pitching and overthrowing injuries. Nevin has worked numerous baseball camps and assisted local and traveling teams with prevention and screening. “I receive many referrals of high school baseball players for injuries, such as shoulder and elbow pain, and rehab post-Tommy John elbow surgery,” states Nevin. He feels pitching injuries are becoming more common due to overuse and repetition. Nevin encourages education of players, parents, and coaches, saying, “Kids need to be active in multiple sports and avoid over- repetition.”

Message for Healthcare Providers

Nevin advises pediatricians and primary care providers to evaluate young adolescents for growth plate injuries in the presence of shoulder or medial elbow pain. He recognizes the risks associated with overuse of imaging studies, but says, “X-rays may be needed to rule out stress fracture in this population.”

Individuals can schedule a physical therapy screening by calling any Floyd Memorial Physical Therapy location. Primary care providers and other specialists can refer patients for evaluation of injury and physical therapy. Orthopedic surgeons with Floyd Memorial Medical Group -Orthopedics and physical therapists then team up to provide treatment for sports injuries and get players back into action.

(1) Santa Monica sports Medicine Foundation website on PEP www.smsmf.org.

(2) Foster TE, Puskas BL, Mandelbaum BR, Gerhardt MB, Rodeo Sa (2009). “Platelet-rich plasma: From basic science to clinical applications”. AM J Sports Med 37 (11):2259–72.