Helping Athletes Achieve Their Highest Potential
Sports medicine, sports performance programs offer treatments and solutions
Professional and elite athletes from around the region, including members of many area professional sports teams, rely on Lehigh Valley Health Network's (LVHN's) and Coordinated Health's sports medicine and sports performance services for injury prevention and treatment, rehabilitation and sport-specific training programs. These same services and deep level of expertise are available to athletes of any age or skill level.
Faisal Al-Alim, MD, treats a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Al-Alim, with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine–Muhlenberg, is a family medicine physician who is fellowship-trained in sports medicine.
"We aim to pinpoint the source of the problem, understand the athlete's goals and offer customized treatments, which may include cortisone injections, medication and rehabilitation," Al-Alim says. "We're able to get injured athletes up to their baseline, where they're painfree, and then refer them to the sports performance team, who can work with them to prevent future injuries and help them achieve their goals."
Al-Alim works closely with the Concussion and Head Trauma Program at LVHN–One City Center to provide baseline concussion testing and administer postinjury impact evaluations. These tests determine the extent of the concussion, helping to decide when athletes are ready to return to their sport.
For athletes who require surgery, LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine offers orthopedic surgeons and a sport-specific rehabilitation team of physical therapists.
The surgical team includes orthopedic surgeon Neal Stansbury, MD, with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, who is fellowship-trained in sports medicine. Stansbury offers procedures including anterior cruciate ligament repair, hip arthroscopy, fracture treatment, rotator cuff repair and many others. He combines 20 years of experience with a passion for exploring the latest technology and techniques.
"Orthopedic sports medicine is a very dynamic field," he says. "Every procedure I do is dramatically different from the way I did it 20 years ago. There's a constant demand for better outcomes and decreased disability times."
The sports performance program at LVHN Sports Academy helps athletes address weaknesses, prevent injuries and reach maximum on-field performance. Athletes are put through a series of tests to measure mobility, strength, motor control, stability and any faulty or compensatory movements that could lead to future injury.
“If you’re consistent in working with us, those baseline numbers will improve,” says sports performance specialist Daniel Knappenberger, with LVHN Sports Academy at Breinigsville. “But numbers are just one indication. I like to hear from an athlete, ‘I’m playing better’ or ‘I’m getting more playing time.’ That’s what ultimately tells us we’re having a positive impact.”
Athletes work with certified strength and conditioning coaches to design a cross-training program to maximize proper movement patterns unique to their bodies. They then apply those patterns to enhance sport-specific skills.
“Ultimately athletes feel more explosive on the court or field,” says Richard Vance, sports performance specialist. “They often feel they’re a step faster, find it easier to separate from defenders and just move a lot better. You can see confidence levels go through the roof. It’s like a different person playing.”
Sports performance offers leading-edge training technologies, including:
- Dartfish video analysis – This system provides immediate visual feedback and in-depth movement analysis of angles, speed and trajectory to remediate, restore and maximize performance. By capturing video and breaking it down frame by frame, experts can analyze everything from a runner's gait to a pitcher's throwing technique. The videos can be stored and viewed for side-by-side comparisons to track an athlete's progress.
- Zephyr™ Technologies BioHarness – This instrument provides real-time physiological and biometric feedback, including heart rate, breathing, posture and peak acceleration, to gauge intensity and duration of a training session.
- Wattbikes – These indoor bikes replicate the feel of the road while providing cycling-specific performance data, including cadence, power and pedal technique.
These training technologies are available to any athlete, including professionals, amateurs and "weekend warriors." The staff regularly collaborates with athletic trainers of local high school and college teams to design rehabilitation and training programs for student athletes.
"We understand and appreciate passion at all levels of athletic performance," says Stansbury, himself a former elite cyclist. "We have a fully integrated sports medicine program offering treatment, rehabilitation and training resources for a complete continuity of care."
LVHN Serves the Region's Sports Teams and Venues
LVHN serves as a health care partner for numerous professional and scholastic sports teams and venues, including:
- Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the top minor-league affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team. LVHN providers work with the Philadelphia Flyers medical staff in following protocols for treating Phantoms player injuries. LVHN also is the medical provider for all events held at the Phantoms home arena, the PPL Center in Allentown.
- Valley Preferred Cycling Center, the epicenter of cycling in the United States and home to the Velodrome, one of the fastest outdoor cycling tracks in the world.
- Pocono Raceway, host of NASCAR and IndyCar races.
- Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (EPC) and Colonial League – LVHN provides physician and athletic training services, plus medical supplies, at scholastic championship playoff events.
- Nearly three dozen regional colleges, high schools, youth leagues and sporting tournaments.