Duke Health Sports Medicine Providers Give Back to Athletes in the Community

By Larissa Biggers
September 27, 2021
A football team huddles on the field

When children, teens, and college athletes play sports, there’s always a chance of injury. Fortunately, Duke sports medicine experts are on the sidelines at many schools and sports clubs across the Triangle. They donate their time and expertise to ensure your child is learning how to prevent sports injuries that can occur on the field and during practice. They’re also there to treat those injuries quickly when they happen. That’s important, because the faster an injury is treated, the faster your young athlete can recover and get back to the sport they love.

Twenty Years of Community Service

Every year when high school, college, and club sports swing into gear, Duke Sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers are on the sidelines to keep athletes safe and healthy. They have been working with young people throughout the community -- from gymnasts to soccer players -- for the past 20 years. “Many of our providers are former athletes themselves, so they understand the frustration of being sidelined with an injury,” said Alanna Baker, a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Duke Health. “We do it to help young athletes stay at the top of their game and to give players, coaches, and parents one less thing to worry about,” she said.

Partnering with Local High Schools

“Our partnership with local high school athletes and their families is the core of our community outreach,” said Baker. She and her colleagues -- who are certified in both physical therapy and athletic training -- spend up to 15 hours a week at area high schools to ensure the health and well-being of athletes. They attend home and away football games where they assist the school athletic trainers. They also cover practices and games for a range of sports, oversee athletes in the training room, and help with baseline concussion testing. When injured athletes require additional care, the Duke providers help them get seen right away. “We help parents navigate the Duke Health system to make sure their child sees the doctors they need in a timely manner,” Baker said. 

Making Preventive Health Care Convenient for Athletes and Their Families

Duke sports medicine providers understand that student athletes -- and their parents -- have busy schedules. That’s why they make getting preventative care and injury treatment convenient. School athletes can get annual low-cost sports physicals as they prepare for their seasons. They can also attend Saturday-morning injury clinics to receive a professional injury assessment and get referred to other specialists for additional treatments, as needed.

Supporting College Athletes

In addition to being the official team doctors for all sports at Duke University, Duke sports medicine specialists offer on-field injury management during games and training room consultations to college football teams at Elon, North Carolina Central, St. Augustine’s, and Shaw Universities.

Expert Care Helps Athletes Stay at the Top of Their Game

Having sports medicine doctors and providers certified in both physical therapy and athletic training at practices and games makes a big difference, said Baker. Because they are experienced in evaluating the full range of sports conditions -- including concussions, orthopaedic injuries, cardiac emergencies, and heat illness, they can provide the care athletes need when they need it. “It’s important to have someone there, not just for emergency care but also treatment and rehab. That’s what we do. We’re really invested in the community.”

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