Dec 8, 2015
USC Turns to Professors For Prehab Help

Sixteen years ago, University of Southern California Head Athletic Trainer Russ Romano asked one of the school’s adjunct associate professors in its division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy to examine a football player who had been sidelined by a chronic ankle injury. The professor, who uncovered a significant dysfunction in the player’s ankle, then crafted a training regimen that prevented surgery.

The player went on to complete his senior season and later in the NFL. For Romano, it was the beginning of a long-standing partnership between the USC athletic department and the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

According to an article in USC News, following the football player’s success, the professor, Stephen Reischl, was asked to examine other injured student-athletes. Now, Reischl serves as a bridge between the two departments. Romano has also hired four of the division’s physical therapy doctoral students to work with the student-athletes.

Currently, the physical therapy team is focusing on a preventive approach to injury. Along with having their movements studied during practices, the student- athletes undergo extensive pre-season screenings to make sure they are not returning with strained muscles or joint pain. If potential problem areas are identified, an athletic trainer works with the student-athlete to address the issue before an injury occurs.

“USC is a special place and one of the ways it is special is there are smart people in many departments who can help us provide the absolute best health care for the student-athletes,” Romano told USC News.

The practical experience created by the partnership has also benefited students like Brian Lee, who is completing a third-year, full-time clinical affiliation at USC Athletic Medicine.

“No classroom or textbook could replicate the real-life, hands-on experience I have been getting during this clerkship,” said Lee, who plans to do a sports residency after completing his doctor of physical therapy degree. “There is no better place to start to become an expert in sports rehabilitation than at USC Athletic Medicine.”

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