Clinical experience during COVID-19 showed that a combination of sports medicine and pediatric cardiology would be beneficial for young athletes.
Written by: Emma Harchanko
Media Contact: Bob Shepard
Clinical experience during COVID-19 showed that a combination of sports medicine and pediatric cardiology would be useful for young athletes. Athletes, especially young athletes, want to play. A new clinic at the University of Alabama in Birmingham aims to help young athletes return to the playing field quickly and safely.
UAB Sports Medicine, a partnership between the UAB School of Medicine Departments of Orthopedic Surgery, Family and Community Medicine and the Division of Pediatric Cardiology in the Department of Pediatrics, has established a multidisciplinary sports medicine and cardiology clinic.
The highly specialized clinic is for the athlete who needs simultaneous cardiology and sports medical treatment. It is designed to treat adolescent and young adult athletes with problems such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) – a circulatory disorder – as well as athletes with certain post-COVID cardiological conditions, such as myopathy and post-COVID fatigue.
Sara Gould, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery, and Camden Hebson, MD, assistant professor of pediatric cardiology in the department of pediatrics, lead clinical efforts. They are supported by an athletic trainer and various support staff to optimize the patient experience. Gould says the clinic is the perfect partnership.
“We realized there was a great need for young athletes to be able to see a sports doctor and a cardiologist on the same clinic visit,” said Gould. “This is a very collaborative effort, and our patients will greatly benefit from our shared experiences. Our goal is to get these children and young adults back into sports. “
Ultimately, the clinic aims to return athletes to their performance level prior to COVID-19 or higher. Since COVID-19 cases are sometimes associated with serious cardiological conditions, all athletes who have had a symptomatic COVID-19 case should be medically approved, especially for cardiomyopathy.
To free athletes to return to their sport, the clinic will order and assess an electrocardiogram or EKG, which records the heart’s electrical signal. After an EKG, the clinic will perform an echocardiogram to confirm if the patient has cardiomyopathy, which can be induced by COVID-19.
Sara Gould, MD
(Photo by: Steve Wood) The clinic also treats athletes who experience fatigue after COVID. Specialists can test the patient to determine his current condition, set goals with the patient, and then create a treatment plan with training prescriptions to achieve his goals.
Although the clinic does treat athletes with selected post-COVID symptoms, it is not a post-COVID clinic due to its highly specialized care. For patients seeking a treatment option for other persistent COVID-19 symptoms, UAB has established a post-COVID treatment program.
The sports cardiology clinic, which will open at the end of May, will be located on the UAB Highlands Campus. Call 205-930-8339 for more information or clinic appointments.