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Boston Public Schools Sports Medicine Initiative
Coleen Sabatini, MD, MPH and Brian Fitzgerald BSN , ATC , LAT

Boston’s inner-city high school athletes have historically not had direct access to professional sports medicine health care providers during high school sporting events like their suburban counterparts. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) mandates that a physician, licensed athletic trainer or an emergency medical technician must be on the sidelines for all high school football contests. Due to the lack of consistent resources for inner-city high school sports programs, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), not trained in sports medicine, was assigned to cover the majority of these contests. Games must be postponed or cancelled if appropriate medical coverage is not available on site. With EMTs covering games, coaches became responsible for making critical and potentially harmful decisions whether or not an injured athlete should return to play. The lack of providers with training in sports medicine puts the inner-city athletes at a significant disadvantage and at risk compared to their colleagues in suburban schools who often have direct access to licensed athletic trainers and sports medicine trained physicians.

In response to this problem, the Children’s Hospital Division of Sports Medicine implemented an innovative program in 2002 designed to enhance the quality of health care for inner city athletes from the Boston Public Schools. The Children’s Hospital Inner City Sports Medicine Initiative, now the Boston Public Schools Sports Medicine Initiative, was created to provide these young urban athletes the important specialized medical care they deserve by bringing specially trained doctors directly to them. Through this program, residents from the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program provide full medical coverage during the games and pre and post game sports medicine training needs. Additionally, there are now many more licensed athletic trainers than EMT’s providing contest coverage alongside the orthopaedic residents.

In its inaugural year in 2002, fourteen residents signed up for the program and 21 games were covered. This past 2005 season, again fourteen residents signed on and a record 40 games were covered! Residents who participate in the program have the opportunity to provide on-the-field management and acute care of sports injuries, educate young athletes in injury prevention and be a positive force for young people in the community. Research has demonstrated that participation in sports is associated with decreased involvement with drugs, violence and sexual activities. This program has helped prevent and treat sports injuries that have the potential to rob young athletes of the important opportunities inherent in playing organized sports.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lyle Micheli, director of Children’s renowned sports medicine division, Dr. Mininder Kocher, assistant director, and Brian FitzGerald, BSN, ATC, LAT and the commitment of residents from the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program, this program will continue to grow and positively impact young people in Boston’s inner city. This wonderful program has been made possible by generous funding from The Roger and Michele Marino Foundation.

If you would like any information on the Boston Public Schools Sports Medicine Initiative

Please Contact; Brian FitzGerald, BSN, ATC, LAT
Division of Sports Medicine, Children’s Hospital
Tel : 617-355-6534
Email : brian.fitzgerald@childrens.harvard.edu