The University of Kansas Health System

From recreational to elite, team keeps athletes healthy

The athletes participating in the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships and the sports medicine professionals at The University of Kansas Hospital have much in common: after years of training and dedication to their craft, they consistently perform seamlessly and tirelessly under pressure. 

The University of Kansas Hospital is the official healthcare provider of the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships, returning to Kansas City for the first time since 1985. Each day from Saturday, January 14, through Sunday, January 22, a team of 93 volunteers will provide nearly round-the-clock healthcare to more than 600 competitors. Made up of physicians, nurses, physical therapists, athletic trainers and other specialists, the team will be rink-side from practices starting at 6 a.m. through competitions ending at 11 p.m. They’re also on call overnight if an athlete needs attention.

“It’s really exciting to participate in a great event like this,” said Lisa Vopat, MD, medical director of the event. “I was attracted to The University of Kansas Hospital because I can help athletes at all levels – from world-class to recreational.”

As figure skating and hockey grow in popularity, the incidence of injuries grows as well. “Most injuries come from chronic overuse, such as ankle sprains, stress fractures or tendinitis,” she said. “Skaters who compete in pairs tend to have more acute injuries from trauma like concussions, fractures or lacerations.”

During the competition, the pressure is on – for the medical team as well as the athletes. “There are many rules for treating an athlete on the ice, mostly about timing,” said Dr. Vopat. “Medical decisions must be made in a matter of minutes.”

Serving the region

Recently coming to Kansas City from Boston, Dr. Vopat also provided medical expertise at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships, the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships, the Boston Marathon and many other elite events.  

To draw such world-class events, a city must have a world-class hospital. “Having a medical partner that can easily manage very specific requirements – and that has earned such positive recognition regionally and nationally – certainly helps us as we work to attract more sporting events to our city,” said Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission.

Indeed, the second day of the championships coincides with a Kansas City Chiefs home playoff game. As the official healthcare provider of the Chiefs, the sports medicine experts at The University of Kansas Hospital will care for two groups of world-class athletes – figure skaters and football players.  

“This is a great way for us to support Kansas City,” said Charlie Rozanski, executive director of sports medicine at The University of Kansas Hospital. “We love to give back to the community that has given us so much.”

Learn more about the Sports Medicine & Performance Center team partnerships here.