Dolphins training


Baptist Health Team Physicians Help Dolphins Prevent, Minimize Pre-Season Injuries

Baptist Health Orthopedic Care

The Miami Dolphins 2023 training camp opens July 30 for fans to start watching practices at the Baptist Health Training Complex. Team physicians from Baptist Health Orthopedic Care will be there primarily for fully padded scrimmages and whenever needed.

Looking after injured Dolphin players at training camp, and along the sidelines during the regular season, are team trainers and three physicians from Baptist Health Orthopedic Care: John Uribe, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and chief medical executive; orthopedic surgeon Gautam Yagnik, M.D.; and Michael Swartzon, M.D., primary care sports medicine physician. They lead a medical team that conducts physicals and oversees preventative care for both the Dolphin players and staff.

Gautam Yagnik, M.D., orthopedic surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care.

"As orthopedic surgeons and physicians, we'll be there -- particularly during some of the padded practices or the scrimmages,” explains Dr. Yagnik. “We're not involved with the day-to-day, except if there is an injury. But there's a whole athletic training staff, strength and conditioning staff, and performance staff that get together to map out, along with coaches, how training camp is going to go.”

The trainers and physicians always have a game plan of their own to help mitigate or outright prevent injuries.

“All these elements are developed beforehand and scripted,” adds Dr. Yagnik. “So, when players show up to training camp, it's a balance between getting ready to play football and getting as many practice reps as possible -- while decreasing the risk of injuries."

Treating or preventing injuries in the NFL is a bit of an evolving science, requiring brainstorming among team physicians across the league and focusing on both young players and potentially more vulnerable older players.

Earlier this year, Dr. Yagnik served as one of the co-chairs at the Youth to the NFL Sports Medicine conference held in New Orleans. Every three years, team physicians from across the nation gather to analyze trends in football injuries and Integrate prevention strategies to improve musculoskeletal and medical health for professional, collegiate and younger football players.

“The idea is to bring team physicians together every three years who care for football athletes from all over the country,” explains Dr. Yagnik. “We then share some of the information and the latest -- in terms of understanding some of the major injury patterns, or the epidemiology of the injuries we see and at what frequency. We cover trends that affect everyone, from our youth football players up to our NFL athletes.”

The team physicians conferred about both the non-surgical and surgical injuries. The non-surgical covered concussions and different types of traumatic abdominal injuries that can occur. And, of course, they covered orthopedic or musculoskeletal injuries.

Dr. Yagnik said one of the more interesting discussion topics focused on issues that physicians and trainers previously didn’t see as a big hinderance for players: Lower extremity strains. 

“One of the biggest emphases was on lower extremity strains -- like hamstrings, quad strains, calf injuries,” said Dr. Yagnik. “As it turns out, these types of injuries result in a significant amount of missed time. There's not much we can do for it on the treatment side, other than letting the players kind of heal from it, and then gradually ramp them up. Over the last several years, there's been a big emphasis on how we can reduce these lower extremity strains. And the NFL has done a good job of being able to track this injury data and identify this as a major injury burden.”

In addition to lower extremity strains (hamstring, quad and calf), the NFL identified ACL tears, shoulder instability, and high-ankle sprains as major injury burdens, he said. ACL refers to the anterior cruciate ligament, a primary ligament that helps stabilize the knee.

Last year, the NFL initiated a five-day acclimation period at the start of training camp, explains Dr. Yagnik.

“They gradually increase the length of practice and the intensity of practice over this five-day period,” he said. “And what they found is that it resulted in a 25 percent decrease in pre-season, lower-extremity injuries in 2022. So, it was very tangible. This is probably something that we'll once again see in 2023 in training camp – and, again, it's not noticeable to the general public. It’s a big change that they're making, particularly in that first week, in order to hopefully prevent those type of injuries during pre-season.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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