Javelin throwers, speed skaters, runners and Olympic athletes of all kinds might find that their injuries are treated in a more uniform fashion over the next two years, thanks to a deal struck between a local medical facility and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
In recent weeks, D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center in Marina del Rey became the first official medical services provider of the USOC, launching a pilot program to provide consistent care and worldwide access to athletes’ medical records. The center, which specializes in sports medicine, orthopedics, and spinal care, will not only care for Olympic and Olympic-hopeful athletes at no cost to the athletes, but will also create a centralized medical records system with the aim of keeping athletes healthy throughout their careers.
The 20 physicians at D.I.S.C. are no strangers to treating top-notch athletes. D.I.S.C. is the official medical center of the Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Dr. Robert S. Bray, Jr., a preeminent neurological spinal surgeon, is the CEO and Founding Director of D.I.S.C. He says the new partnership will ensure that some of America’s finest athletes get the care they need in order to excel.
“I wanted to create an avenue for American’s top athletes to get top health care, no matter what their insurance situation is,” Bray said. “I’m not talking about the guys who are already insured by the N.B.A., but the athletes who are still considered amateurs, even though they compete at high levels.”
On a recent trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, Bray talked with a bobsledder suffering from a bad shoulder. He was astounded at the lack of meticulous medical attention the athlete reportedly received.
“When I asked him where he got his surgery, he said ‘oh, somewhere in New York’,” Bray said. “Then I asked where he did his physical therapy, and he said he hadn’t had any. I realized there was no centralized system for tracking the medical care of these athletes, or making sure they are getting the care they need.”
Still in the early stages, the partnership between D.I.S.C. and USOC puts records tracking center stage. Every U.S. Olympic athlete will be registered on a web site, so their records can be pulled from anywhere around the world at any time. In the past, many U.S. Olympic athletes have had to carry their own health insurance and keep track of their records, which has meant some of them carry no insurance at all.
The program will be up and running for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and will extend through the Summer Games in London in 2012. It will be reassessed at that time.
At least one athlete, weightlifter Melanie Roach, has high hopes for the partnership, having received care at D.I.S.C. in the past.
“Thanks to the incredible talent and skill of Dr. Bray and the unbelievable care I received at D.I.S.C., I was able to live my dream of making the 2008 Beijing Games and then going on to set an American record,” Roach said. “This partnership is a fantastic opportunity for America’s Olympic athletes to have world-class medical care that will help them return to full training and competition in the quickest possible timeframe so that they too can achieve their dreams like I did.”
For more information, visit www.discmdgroup.com. The centralized web site for medical records tracking will be up in the next few weeks.