Story by: Sara Thompson on December 28, 2021
Sports medicine’s focus on player health and prompt care for in-game injuries was highlighted in October when the University of Louisville’s Marshon Ford was tackled during a second-quarter play. Chad E. Smith, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician with Norton Sports Health, was on hand for an X-ray and a subsequent computed tomography (CT) scan, which got Marshon back in the game by the fourth quarter.
A tight end, Marshon took a hit to the low back during the second quarter of the game.
“He came off the field with significant pain,” Dr. Smith said. “We did an evaluation at the sideline and felt that with this injury, there was potential for a fracture.”
Most large university sports facilities have equipment to scan and treat a variety of training and game-related injuries, including X-ray machines.
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Norton Sports Health is the official health care provider of the Louisville Cardinals and the official sports health provider of the Bellarmine Knights.
“We didn’t see anything on the X-ray, but there was the potential for a small, non-displaced fracture. The area of injury is sometimes hard to see and diagnose. The only way to confirm it was to do a CT scan,” Dr. Smith said.
A CT scan takes multiple X-rays from many angles and combines them to show doctors a better picture of your bones and tissue.
The medical team, comprising team physicians and athletic trainers, coordinated with the radiology department at Norton Audubon Hospital, where Marshon was taken immediately. After doctors reviewed the CT, it was determined that Marshon had not sustained a fracture. He was taken back to the stadium, where he finished the game, a 34-33 loss to Virginia.
In a typical home football game for Louisville, there are two orthopedic surgeons, two primary care sports medicine doctors, an anesthesiologist and a radiology technologist present. This allows fast diagnosis and treatment of injuries during the game.
“Injured players are reassessed after the game, and advanced imaging such as MRI or CT typically occurs that night or the following morning. Being able to undergo a CT scan during the game, with return to full participation and only missing one quarter of play, is quite remarkable from a logistics standpoint. Injured players are reassessed the day after injury and then treated as needed until they recover,” Dr. Smith said. “But (Marshon) is a key part of (UofL’s) offense, and our goal is always to keep every player in as much as we can.”
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