Caring for local athletes, on or off the hill
Vail-Summit Orthopaedics physicians — the official medical providers for Team Summit and Team Breckenridge — are committed to serving athletes of all ages in Summit County
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As youth athletes on Team Summit and Team Breckenridge prepare to compete in skiing and snowboarding competitions around the state and beyond, they have peace of mind knowing that world-class orthopaedic care is there for them on the sidelines.
Vail-Summit Orthopaedics has been working with Team Summit for the last two years as its official medical provider, and recently began working in the same capacity for Team Breck. These competitive ski and snowboard clubs are the home base for so many local athletes looking to pursue competitive snow sports success, which means they’re often pushing their bodies to the limit.
“We feel that organizations like Team Summit and Team Breckenridge are the foundations for the development of lifetime outdoor athletes,” said Dr. Erik Dorf, a Vail-Summit Orthopaedics surgeon who specializes in shoulder, hand, elbow and wrist injuries, as well as knees and orthopaedic trauma. “Integrating into their development is essential for our continued support of not just these athletes, but Summit County as a whole.”
The role of team doctors
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Vail-Summit Orthopaedics provides free clinic evaluations for the athletes after ski and snowboard-related injuries, but acting as official medical providers for these athletes also includes preseason injury screening and evaluations.
“Additionally, we provide a comprehensive concussion evaluation and management program for athletes who have suffered head injuries while participating in ski and snowboard related events,” Dr. Dorf said. “Our staff provides on-hill evaluation of athletes during bigger events, and we provide medical coverage for events such as the under 16 national championships coming up this weekend in Breckenridge.”
Injury prevention care occurs through education, Dr. Dorf said, as well as recommendations regarding physical fitness and clearance for return to a sport.
“We are excited about expanding this role in the future, to include specific fitness oriented programs that will occur in the summer,” he said.
Vail-Summit Orthopaedics can provide preseason concussion testing and physicals for any athlete in Summit County, not just limited to Team Summit and Team Breckenridge athletes.
“We are dedicated to Summit County and athletes of all ages in our community,” Dr. Dorf said. “We provide exceptional care with fellowship-trained subspecialists in every field.”
Vail-Summit Orthopaedics has seen a significant improvement in the consistency of its evaluations and management of concussions over the last two years of this collaboration. Because the partnerships are relatively new, Dr. Dorf said they can’t yet analyze data about the impacts the partnership with these snow sports clubs has on the athletes, but that is a long-term goal.
Dr. Dorf points to medical studies that have shown a decline in anterior cruciate ligament injuries — which happen to be extremely common for young skiers — with specific fitness programs. While fitness programs can’t totally prevent these injuries, Dr. Dorf said there are appropriate equipment adjustments that can be made throughout the season that are critical for preventing knee-related injuries.
“Other injuries, such as fractures to the clavicle or the wrist are still very common, and are more likely dependent on snow conditions than actual preventive measures,” Dr. Dorf added.
These team athletes in Summit County tend to have exceptionally good fitness in the fall because of their summer activities, but Dr. Dorf said it can be hard to maintain that fitness throughout the winter due to athletes’ busy winter schedules. Vail-Summit Orthopaedics physicians try to recognize drops in performance due to decreases in fitness in order to recommend ways to improve physical fitness.
“We recognize these young athletes as a critical component of our community, and we are proud to be involved in their successes,” Dr. Dorf said. “We feel that organizations like Team Summit and Team Breckenridge are the foundations for the development of lifetime outdoor athletes.”
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