If you know OrthoCarolina, you know that we’re passionate about sports, including our local and regional college teams. It’s our honor to have been chosen as the official team physicians for many of these schools, and our providers spend countless medical service hours on and off the field caring for student athletes and managing musculoskeletal care.
Dr. Ranjan Maitra, an orthopedic surgeon with OrthoCarolina Gastonia, serves as Head Team Physician and Medical Director for Athletics for Belmont Abbey College. He works closely with Dr. Michael McCartney and the Belmont Abbey athletic training staff to take care of more than 400 athletes in sports including soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, volleyball, lacrosse, tennis, track & field, golf and cross country. Dr. Maitra shared some insight into how orthopedic providers interact with the college and university student athletes they treat and contribute to a more successful season.
How do you prepare teams for the school year and upcoming season?
Dr. Maitra: Beginning in August, Dr. McCartney and I complete pre-participation physicals for all athletes (returners, new freshman, and new transfers). This usually involves 4-6 sessions of 4 hours each, completed on a weekend during fall athletes’ arrival to campus and then on weekdays during the next 2 weeks for winter and spring athletes. By NCAA rule, all athletes are required to have a pre-participation physical each year before being able to participate in team practices; and coaches want athletes ready to practice as soon as possible.
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How do you work with the teams once the academic year begins?
Dr. Maitra: Once practices are in session, Dr. McCartney and I alternate weekly visits to the training room at Belmont Abbey. We see athletes who have orthopedic and medical needs that can include screening pre-participation physicals, acute injuries, medical complaints, post-surgical follow-ups or follow-ups from previous training room visits. As a sports medicine specialist,I also take care of non-orthopedic issues, which are common in the college-age athletes such as chest pain, shortness of breath, skin disorders, mononucleosis (mono), abdominal pain, and heat-related illnesses.
Have you ever seen any scary injuries?
Dr. Maitra: I once treated a female soccer player who had 3 rib fractures and a collapsed lung from taking a knee to the chest during a match. I’ve had a 20-year old wrestler who had an arthroscopic repair of a complete rotator cuff tear after he dislocated his shoulder as he was violently thrown to the mat during a wrestling match.
Do you see college players in the OrthoCarolina office?
Dr. Maitra: I do see student athletes the office for scheduled appointments for a variety of appointment types including test (MRI) follow-up, surgery scheduling needs, routine follow-up and post-operative appointments. Usually a trainer will accompany our student athletes to optimize communication about the athlete’s condition with other members of the medical team that cares for or interacts with that patient.
Do you take care of any coaches or athletic staff?
Dr. Maitra: I see coaches and college administration as patients either in the training room or in my office, and have even operated on them on occasion. Working with coaches who need treatment helps me understand and care for problems/injuries/conditions in athletic and non-athletic post-college age patients. Many still remain active at a very high level despite the wisdom of age telling their bodies to take it easier, and many still remain “weekend warriors” participating in regular athletic endeavors.
Why do you make student athletes and the Belmont Abbey athletics program such a high priority?
Dr. Maitra: I really enjoy caring for college-level athletes. Sports medicine is a part of my practice that inspires me, it keeps me involved in athletics, and it’s really fun to take care of motivated, talented athletes and individuals. The competitive nature of athletes helps me be competitive in my practice by pushing the envelope in surgical techniques, rehabilitative techniques, and by striving to provide the best, efficient, and safest care so athletes can get back to the field, court, or training environment.
What else do you enjoy about your role?
Athletics teach character, teamwork, competition, camaraderie, commitment and sacrifice. All these skills are necessary and present in orthopedic surgery. I enjoy working with my athletic training colleagues, coaches and athletic administrators to improve the processes involved in care of athletes. This “teamwork” approach for care assists me in other facets of my practice, such as total joint replacement. I’m part of a team that provides total joint replacement care to older individuals. The team approach clearly improves outcomes, patient satisfaction, and, ultimately, quality of life for these patients. Therefore, I can provide orthopedic care across the whole continuum of humanity. What a great job we have!