VIEWPOINT: The Power of Sports

Dr. Ross Zafonte

As we all welcome the warm weather it’s always a reminder of new beginnings. June is an exciting time for the Department for many reasons. First and foremost, because we as a department celebrate our 16th graduating class at the Harvard Club in Boston. It’s always gratifying to welcome our distinguished alumni, current faculty, residents and fellows and of course, our proud graduates and their families.

While there is no telling what the road ahead holds for this next generation of physiatrists, I have no doubt that their mix of dynamic talent and intellectual prowess will only serve to enrich our field and the communities we serve.

With these warmer and longer days in every corner of the country, the roads, trails and fields see every type of athlete from youth sports to the weekend warrior. One of our critical areas of focus in rehab is sports medicine and looking for novel ways through care and research to ensure people can stay active over the course of their lives. In this issue, we focus on sports medicine in several areas, from the addition of the talented Dr. Irene Davis to our Department and her investigations into new approaches in running mechanics to our resident profile of Dr. Cheri Blauwet, a two-time Boston Marathon wheelchair division champion and rising clinician.

Sports is such a unifying thread throughout so many aspects of our society, allowing us as clinicians and scientists to have a wide breadth of research and impact. The power of sports can be seen in cases such as Ryan Westmoreland, a touted prospect for the Red Sox who faced a brain tumor that caused a significant TBI. His story and care at Spaulding were featured on ESPN and showed just how sports can be used in tandem with clinical care to help a patient stay motivated and active in their recovery. We were also extremely proud to partner with the Red Sox on the recent Run to Home Base event, raising over $2.5 million to support care and research for our returning heroes.

Perhaps there is no better metaphor from sports than that of the team. I’m proud to say that at the recent AAP conference, our team was recognized in several areas from poster and paper submissions to presentations for their innovative work on the academic, research and clinical fronts. In this season of celebration, I can think of nothing more gratifying than this recognition by our peers.

Truly, by always challenging each other to advance our collective knowledge, the most important person on each one of our teams is the one who wins; our patients that depend on us to continually improve the biology of recovery.

Dr. Ross Zafonte is Professor and Chairman of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Vice-President of Medical Affairs, Research, and Education at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network

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