It’s a scenario no one likes to see, but it inevitably happens numerous times each season.
An athlete goes down and the home crowd falls silent. Nearby athletes gather first, with medical personnel arriving on the field or court shortly after.
While no athlete wants to go through this experience, having specialized medical experts on the scene means faster and more accurate diagnosis, better treatment and a quicker return to competition.
For the athletes at BYU, Dr. Darren Campbell and Dr. Dain Allred lead a team of professionals at Intermountain’s Utah Valley Orthopedics & Sports Medicine where they offer the best techniques in injury prevention and recovery. Dr. Campbell, a sports medicine specialist, and Dr. Allred, an orthopedic surgeon, work closely together as team physicians for the Cougars.
“Our skill sets are synergistic, which is how teams work on the field as well,” Dr. Campbell says. “The best basketball teams don’t have five point guards on the court at the same time. They have players who have different but complementary skills, each playing unique positions to make the team the best it can be. That’s how we look at our team, too. Additionally, we partner and coordinate with other community providers and specialists to ensure our athletes and patients receive the best care.”
Dr. Campbell’s role on the team is to oversee the non-surgical treatment of injury and assist with injury prevention. Dr. Allred becomes more involved when injuries require surgery. Truthfully, though, both doctors work together for the best results for the whole athlete.
These two teammates have been playing for the same team since meeting at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2008. Both doctors received training through the Air Force and met while deployed overseas. After that meeting, the two found themselves working together as team physicians at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“One of the things that drew me to this opportunity was the chance to work with Dr. Campbell again,” Dr. Allred says. “We’ve developed a strong working relationship, which makes it rewarding to work with athletes. Not only are we able to help them with their healthcare needs, but we mentor them in other ways, too.”
While at the Air Force Academy, the two were part of groundbreaking work in the field of concussions.
“Our body of knowledge concerning concussion management has significantly increased in just the past 10 years,” Dr. Campbell says. “Dr. Allred and I have been part of that through a partnership between the Department of Defense and the NCAA.”
The CARE Consortium was started in 2014 and provides infrastructure and scientific research into the study of concussive injuries. This includes diagnosis, multi-faceted treatment and long-term recovery.
“An injury to the brain affects everything,” Dr. Campbell says. “It affects balance, vision, emotional health.”
Working with athletes at the Air Force Academy, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Allred were on the front lines for both the DOD and the NCAA in studying concussions. Being part of the consortium has allowed the two to train others in best practices.
For example, there was a time when the common treatment for concussion was resting in a dark room. Now, research discourages that treatment. Also, the study is helping medical professionals understand that concussion symptoms may look different in different patients, due to the many areas of function affected by the brain.
One major improvement in concussion care, however, comes from the athlete’s self-recognition and quick reporting.
“When an athlete reports a concussion when it happens, they get better faster,” Dr. Allred says. “In fact, playing an extra quarter of football after the injury typically adds days to recovery. Athletes will actually be able to play again faster if they don’t try to hide symptoms.”
This paradigm shift has made its way to coaches, too.
“Every coach got into the profession because they care about the athletes,” Dr. Campbell says. “They also see that early reporting gets the athlete safely on the field sooner, so they are supportive of this approach, too.”
Research also suggests that healing fully from a previous concussion before engaging in athletics reduces the risk of brain damage.
“We think part of the long-term issues come from repetitive injuries before getting things all the way healed.”
While Dr. Campbell and Dr. Allred spend a portion of their time working with finely-tuned athletes at BYU, they take these best practices and put them to use in the treatment of other patients in their Provo clinic, where they spend about 80 percent of their time.
“When working with elite athletes, you have to be on the cutting edge of treatment and rehabilitation,” Dr. Allred says. “We have the techniques, equipment and information needed for that level of treatment, but we use it on all of our patients. Everyone who is active wants to get back to what they love to do, whether a collegiate athlete or the rest of us. We know how to do that.”
3 Tips for Avoiding Sports Injury
Despite understanding the leading treatments for sports-related injuries, Dr. Allred and Dr. Campbell know that the best way to avoid missing time on the field is to prevent injuries from ever happening. Here are a few tips from the pros to stay in the game.
Wear a helmet. Whether playing football, riding a bike or rock climbing, protecting the head with proper equipment is key to minimizing damage.
Know your body. Body awareness, including what it feels like when it’s not well, helps athletes know when something is “too much.” This includes incremental activity for “weekend warriors,” who often jump into heavy activity after a long period of no (or less) activity.
Use the right techniques. Every activity has best practices that are effective while minimizing the risk of injury. Whether it is using correct tackling strategies in football, proper footwork in basketball or running stride on the trail, getting good coaching will help in avoiding injury.
It’s not just Dr. Campbell and Dr. Allred who keep people on the playing field. Other physicians at Utah Valley Orthopedics & Sports Medicine serve teams at UVU and BYU. Below is a complete roster:
• Anthony Beutler, MD (Women’s soccer)
• Darren Campbell, MD (Football, men’s volleyball)
• Chris Gordon, MD (Women’s basketball)
• Claire Gross, MD (Women’s volleyball, gymnastics)
• Mitch Pratte, DO (Men’s basketball)
• Eric Robinson, MD (Football)
• Dain Allred, MD (Orthopedic surgery)
• Anthony Beutler, MD (Women’s basketball and women’s soccer)
• Chris Gordon, MD (Wrestling, men’s soccer)
• Eric Robinson, MD (Men’s basketball)
• Wayne Mortensen, MD (Orthopedic surgery)