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Orthopedic Surgeon Envisions Comprehensive Sports Medicine Program

Michael Justice, DO, orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedic Surgeons, Inc. (OSI), is in the early stages of building a sports medicine program with partners Matthew Daggett, DO, and Kevin Witte, DO. The three surgeons completed sports medicine fellowships developed by James Andrews, MD, and Larry Lemak, MD, founders of the two most widely known sports medicine programs in the U.S.

“Two important components of an authentic sports medicine program are maximum physician availability and physicians being present from start to finish.”

“We have a solid base to build from,” says Dr. Justice, referring to the number of sports medicine fellowship-trained surgeons on staff. “Two important components of an authentic sports medicine program are maximum physician availability and physicians being present from start to finish.” In a comprehensive team sports medicine program, team physicians conduct pre-participation physicals, collaborate with athletic trainers, attend scrimmages, practices and away games, hold Friday night or weekend clinics and have an open door policy for injured players.

Healthy vs. Torn ACL

“A solid sports medicine program caters to the athlete,” he adds. “Football and soccer account for the most sports injuries. If young people are going to play contact sports, we, as a medical community, must proactively take care of them.”

Focus on Injury Prevention and Return-to-Play

Evidence from ASMI, Stop Sports Injuries and Sports Safety shows proper conditioning and training can actually prevent many injuries. Some reports suggest upwards of 80% reduction in ACL injuries with a well-designed warm-up routine. “This is something teams or individuals can easily implement,” says Dr. Justice

Reconstruction SurgeriesIn addition to injury prevention strategies, a comprehensive sports medicine program should also treat both surgical and nonsurgical injuries, offer rehabilitation, and base return-to-play criteria on the best available data. “Determining RTP is an art, although we’re getting better at understanding the science behind it,” says Dr. Justice, who frequently treats adolescent injuries. He treats patients of all ages, from Little League to weekend warriors to professional athletes. “There are a lot of variables beyond time because not everyone heals at the same rate. We take many issues into consideration before making the call.”

Sports Medicine Team

Developing relationships with athletic trainers, local school district administrators and primary care physicians is the first step toward building a comprehensive sports medicine program in the Kansas City North area, and Dr. Justice encourages people to reach out to him with questions. “To build a good sports medicine program, we think it should start with an orthopedic surgeon,” Dr. Justice explains. “Then, we add primary care physicians fellowship trained in sports medicine to handle all non-orthopedic issues, and physical therapists to design a rehabilitation program. We already have many of those components in place at North Kansas City Hospital.”

Dr. Justice is currently the sports medicine provider for St. Pius and Odessa School District, and he is frequently on the sidelines at Excelsior Springs High School’s sporting events.

Michael Justice, DO

Michael Justice, DODr. Justice earned his medical degree from Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. He completed the St. Mary’s Medical Center Orthopedic Surgery residency program and an orthopedic sports medicine fellowship with Dr. Larry Lemak at the American Sports Medicine Institute.

To learn more, call 816.459.7500.