USA Rugby National Team Doctor from ONS

March 27, 2014; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; USA Men's Eagles training session before the second leg of the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier game against Uruguay at Life University
KOWALSKY, MD: March 27, 2014; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; USA Men’s Eagles training session before the second leg of the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier game against Uruguay at Life University

Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, with a 33% annual increase in participation among youth athletes. In part, the popularity of rugby in the US can be attributed to an increased visibility of the sport at the high school and collegiate levels, and the recent success of the USA Rugby National Team. The US fields a “7s” and a “15s” team, characterized by the number of players on the field during competition. The 7s team recently qualified for participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics. This will be the first time the sport is featured in Olympic competition since 1924. The 15s team, otherwise known as the Eagles, is currently ranked 16th in the world, and qualified to compete this fall at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists have a long-standing tradition of providing orthopedic care for young rugby players. ONS doctors have served as team physicians for the Greenwich High School rugby team, one of the strongest high school teams in the country. Currently, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Dr. Marc Kowalsky is the team physician for the USA Rugby National Team. Having played rugby himself at Dartmouth College he understands the game from a medical and player’s perspective. He also serves as team physician for the Iona College Rugby Team and the White Plains Rugby Football Club.

“Injuries that are typically encountered in rugby encompass the entire spectrum of injuries treated in any collision sport.  As with American Football, there has been a significant increase in attention to concussion and traumatic brain injury in the sport. World Rugby, the governing body of international rugby, and USA Rugby, have devoted a significant amount of time, energy, and resources to optimize the prevention, detection and care of concussion and traumatic brain injury among rugby players.

Two of the important measures to prevent concussion from occurring are, avoiding contact in the sport at a young age, and proper instruction about safe tackling as contact is introduced.  At the elite level, techniques for safe tackling are certainly reinforced. From the perspective of the medical team, all members of the USA Rugby medical staff are required to complete the IRB Level 2 Immediate Care in Rugby Course to prepare for the management of catastrophic injuries during training and competition.  Physicians and trainers are additionally required to complete extensive training in the assessment and management of concussion in particular. 

Another key tool is a baseline neurocognitive exam to measure an athlete’s cognitive function, or the ability to process information. All players complete neurocognitive testing once they join the team, to establish baseline values for each athlete, which become important in the assessment of an athlete who may have sustained a concussion.”

Rugby,calcioWorld Rugby and USA Rugby continue to improve the medical team’s ability to assess injured athletes during competition. Clear guidelines have been established to guide treatment and determine an athlete’s ability to return to play.  All of these measures will be in place as the USA Rugby National Team prepares for competition in the Pacific Nation’s Cup, July 18, 2015. Dr. Kowalsky will accompany the team and serve as team physician.

Shoulder Pain? (Part II)

Shoulder_Pain_blogRemember last week’s post? Dr. Kowalsky ended the last installment with listing a multiple options one could take to repair a rotator cuff tear due to the fact that it is very unlikely for the condition to heal on its own. The following is a more in depth description of what makes up this part of the body and what to do after the symptoms of arthritis of the shoulder appear.

The glenohumeral joint of the shoulder includes the humeral head, or ball, and the glenoid, or shallow socket.  Both joint surfaces are coated with articular cartilage, the pearly-white, smooth surface that allows near friction-free, painless movement of one surface on another.  Typical wear-and-tear osteoarthritis occurs due to the degeneration of the joint surface.  As the articular cartilage erodes, the underlying bone can become exposed, change in shape, and create symptoms.  Patients typically present with pain deep within the joint.  The pain can be associated with mechanical symptoms, such as catching, clicking, or grinding, as well as loss of motion.  For some patients, typically those with mild or moderate arthritis, there is a role for conservative management.

However, the most reliable means for pain relief, improved motion and function for patients with moderate or severe arthritis is shoulder replacement.  This procedure is performed by removing and replacing the arthritic ball with a metal implant, and by resurfacing the socket with a plastic implant, restoring low-friction, pain-free motion. Implant design and surgical technique for the treatment of both rotator cuff tears and shoulder arthritis continue to evolve.   These innovations empower shoulder and elbow surgeons to individualize the treatment plan to a specific patient and problem.

Tonight, March 12 at 6:30 pm at Greenwich Hospital,  Dr. Kowalsky will give a health talk on “Common Causes and Solutions to Chronic Shoulder Pain” will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of rotator cuff tears and shoulder arthritis.  The event will highlight important recent advances in the management of these conditions that have been associated with improved long-term outcomes.

The program is free and open to the public.
Registration Requested. Call (203) 863-4277, or register online at www.greenhosp.org.