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The Catalyst

Expertise, collabration and experience define MUSC's Sports Medicine program

By Mikie Hayes
Public Relations

MUSC Sports Medicine program coordinator Michael Barr, a physical therapist, works on throwing mechanics with an athlete.
photos by Brennan Wesley, Business Development & Marketing Services

As thousands watched from the stands and millions more on television screens around the world, MUSC’s Alec DeCastro knelt courtside evaluating a player with a possible concussion at the 2014 Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

With ESPN commentator Pam Shriver providing live commentary directly behind DeCastro and the clock ticking off every second of the three minutes he had to assess her condition, the only thing on his mind was whether or not the player was safe to return to her doubles match in the tournament’s semi-finals.

Fast–paced courtside calls are nothing new for the three tournament physicians who provided the 65 Family Circle Cup players with round-the-clock medical coverage during the nine days they were in Charleston. DeCastro, M.D., chief of Primary Care Sports Medicine, Shane Woolf, M.D., chief of the Sports Medicine program, and Jana Upshaw, M.D., pediatric sports medicine specialist, were on site to ensure the players had the care they needed related to the tournament and to arrange routine and specialty health care services when necessary. Due to the fact the players travel the majority of the year, they often sacrifice getting the care they need.

Woolf said, “The players are traveling constantly, literally all year, all over the world, and many either don’t have a home base or the time to be seen by a doctor. We make health care accessible for them by setting up appointments with MUSC physicians who are able to see them while they’re in town. It’s that level of attention to the players’ welfare that has deepened our relationship with the tournament and the World Tennis Association.”

Over the past nine years, MUSC Sports Medicine has built a strong reputation as being one of the region’s top programs for its ability to deliver superior care, training and educational programs across the full spectrum of athletic needs. The program has evolved more recently into a cohesive network of specialists experienced in caring for elite competitors, as well as aspiring athletes and sports enthusiasts throughout the Lowcountry. Together the team works to address all aspects of an injury or condition with the ultimate goal of returning the patient to peak performance as quickly and safely as possible.  

DeCastro credits Woolf with coalescing the team and advancing the reputation of the program.

“Shane has brought great energy to the program and continues to expand its reach. He has the vision it takes to create an elite sports medicine program. We simply wouldn’t be where we are right now without him,” DeCastro said.

Woolf takes great pride in the growth of the program in such a short amount of time and the team’s ability to meet the ever-growing demand for top-notch sports medicine.

“This academic year, I stepped into a greater role with the program. What I’ve seen in this period of time has exceeded my expectations and fulfilled what I came here to do. Our unique team approach, an intricately interwoven system of delivering care, is what distinguishes this program from others. We continue to expand our reach and the cutting-edge, individualized services we are able to offer our patients,” he said.

The sports medicine team consists of nationally recognized specialists including orthopaedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, emergency medicine physicians, sports psychologists, cardiovascular specialists, adult and pediatric neurologists, radiologists, dieticians, physical therapists, rheumatologists, ENT and facial surgeons, women’s health physicians, gynecologists, and numerous other specialties that may be necessary to treat a particular injury or physical complaint.

An outstanding team of athletic trainers serves on the front line of the MUSC Sports Medicine program, regularly communicating with Woolf, DeCastro and Michael Barr, DPT, MSR, who serves as both the MUSC Sports Medicine program coordinator and the Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention coordinator.

This level of specialized care was not lost on Family Circle Cup organizers and trainers who were candid about the level of confidence they placed in MUSC’s sports medicine team this year.

On behalf of the Women’s Tennis Association, Reshma Rathod, MSTP, MBA, consultant with the WTA, said, “We were impressed by the expertise of the sports medicine team during the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, SC. Drs. Woolf, DeCastro and Upshaw provided optimal healthcare, including excellent diagnostic and medical management, to our professional tennis athletes. They ensured continuity of a high quality of care for any player requiring assistance. We look forward to working with the physicians from the MUSC sports medicine program next year.”

It’s no wonder. In the course of just one week this spring, in addition to providing 24–hour coverage to elite Family Circle Cup athletes, the MUSC Sports Medicine team was responsible for providing any necessary medical treatment to the 31,089 athletes competing in the Cooper River Bridge Run during their time in Charleston. They also tended to the Charleston Battery players during practices and opening night home game.

Bobby Weisenberger, head athlete trainer for the Charleston Battery assess an ankle injury.

MUSC’s Bobby Weisenberger, ATC, serves as the head athletic trainer for the Charleston Battery soccer team and can be seen alongside the players’ bench at all games. Andrew Bell, president of the Battery, S.C.’s only professional soccer team, shared the confidence he has in Weisenberger and MUSC’s ability to deliver the type of care for his club.
“As a professional soccer club, it’s critical that we are able to provide our athletes the best possible care available and to make sure they have all the resources available to them to continue to win on and off the field. MUSC Sports Medicine has been our partner for a number of years and they do a fantastic job of not only keeping them healthy but also bringing them back quickly when they do suffer injuries, which is an inevitable part of our job.  Our team trainer, Bobby Weisenberger, is a key member of our staff and we rely on his expertise along with the rest of the medical team. We wouldn’t have had the success we have enjoyed without their support.”

During that same week, while attending practices and providing consultations and care for spring sports such as baseball, soccer and lacrosse teams for five local high schools, Woolf’s comprehensive team also oversaw sports–related care for the 75 participants in the Healthy Charleston Challenge.  

To accomplish this level of precision coordination requires an experienced organizer and Barr serves as the program’s air traffic controller. He manages the daily operations of the athletic training facilities, the trainers, coordination of sports medicine clinical services and the sports performance program. Having coordinated the program for eight years, he prides himself on being accessible 24/7 and available whenever he is needed.

“It’s one thing to have a stellar orthopaedics department,” said Barr. “It’s another thing entirely to have a comprehensive sports medicine program. Our team is stronger now than it has ever been and the quality of care is second to none. There is no dabbling in sports medicine here; this is a sports medicine team of experts. The strength of the program is in the team approach and the expert level of experienced care.”

The key to the success of this program is the close coordination of care throughout all specialties and the seamless communications between affiliated specialists.

By definition, sports medicine is much broader than an orthopaedics department or single specialist. When a comprehensive team approach is deployed, it allows for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries for athletes of all levels: from a weekend warrior to a world–class superstar such as Serena Williams, MUSC has the particular specialist at the ready to serve the needs of any and all injuries and conditions related to sports participation.

“We truly care about the athlete. We are not satisfied until they are back at play doing what they do on the field, court, or track. We work and work and work with the patient to get them back in the game as quickly as possible,” said Barr. 

In the past, a torn anterior cruciate ligament or a rotator cuff injury could signal the end an athlete's career or at the very least a lost season. Today it’s not unusual for athletes to be assessed, treated, rehabilitated, and back on the field playing before the season's end.  At other programs, Barr has seen athletes wait days, even weeks, to get an MRI or in to see a specialist. Not with MUSC Sports Medicine.

“Any delay in assessing a player can end a season. Our goal is to get them in within the first 24 hours to avoid career-ending injuries. Because of the expertise of this team of specialists, I’ve never had to tell someone they would never play again and I have seen major injuries.”

MUSC’s sports medicine group also support area teams including the Lowcountry High Rollers women’s roller derby team. photo by Louis Keiner

In addition to working regularly with the Charleston Battery, the Lowcountry High Rollers women’s roller derby team, the Outlaws men’s rugby team, the South Carolina Scholastic Ice Hockey Association and the College of Charleston ice hockey teams, the team also provides care or training to several clubs and leagues.

This fall, two fellowship–trained sports medicine specialists who have served as team physicians for major league programs including the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox will be joining the MUSC Sports Medicine program.

“We are excited about the addition of Drs. Harris Slone and Marc Haro to our team. These specialists have more than ample experience with professional-level team coverage and will increase our areas of expertise even further,” said Woolf. “We are proud to be a regional resource for athletes of every age, every skill level, and every sport,” he continued. All the pieces are in place for us to push MUSC Sports Medicine to the forefront as a national referral center while we continue to deliver the highest level of care and conduct cutting-edge research. I am thrilled to be partnering with Alec, Mike, and the many affiliated clinicians to accomplish this.”

For information or to schedule an appointment, call 792-1414 or visit


May 9, 2014



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