As the landmark law Title IX celebrates fifty years this year, disparities in research investment and care options for female athletes still lag far behind male counterparts. A major commitment from Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine is to not only invest in offering focused services for the female athlete, but also advance the research and science in the area with one of the most robust portfolios in the nation. Led by a dynamic group of leaders in the field, the goal for the division is to elevate the standard of care and introduce novel studies to improve treatments available.
The Mass General Brigham Women’s Sports Medicine program is led by Dr. Cheri Blauwet, Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, Dr. Kelly McInnis, Dr. Miho Tanaka and Megan Bobinski, PA. Each physician leader brings a broad range of expertise to their practice and research including treating elite athletes in a variety of sports at all levels from professional, college, high school and amateur. They also work on events on a global scale such as the Olympics and Paralympics supporting athletes of all abilities.
“We have a passion for ensuring that all athletes have equitable access to world-class sports medicine care. Female athletes are all too often an underserved population in sports medicine and at Mass General Brigham, we are coming together as a multidisciplinary team of physicians, physical therapists, sports dieticians, sport psychologists, and many others to provide them comprehensive and exceptional care,” said Dr. Blauwet.
For female athletes of all levels looking for specialized care, Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine has invested to address conditions and offer services focused on the unique needs and physiology of women. “Understanding risk factors specific to the female athlete can be important in determining the best prevention or treatment plan. Female athletes, for example, can have 8-times the risk of an ACL tear and a decreased rate of return to sport after surgery compared to male athletes. Some of our research focuses on ways to get more female athletes back in the game,” said Dr. Matzkin.
One example of this through care and research is Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) which consists of many interrelated conditions including but not limited to energy availability, irregular menstruation, and bone loss. “Examining injuries in an interconnected way with an understanding of the biology impacts is critical to successful care.” says Megan Bobinski, PA. For a traditional ACL tear requiring surgery there is coordination of all aspects of care which is pivotal for strong outcomes and the Women’s Sports Medicine division takes all the athletes’ needs into consideration.
“Mass General Brigham’s Women’s Sports Medicine Program is a unique collaboration that brings together the highest level of expertise across disciplines to care for female athletes. In addition to providing comprehensive care that focuses on sports-specific treatments, we are continually researching and educating others on ways to optimize the prevention and treatment of injuries for all female athletes,” said Dr. Tanaka. The division looks to take a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive approach to care with involvement across the system including but not limited to physical therapy, sport psychology, endocrinology, sports dietetics/nutrition, and primary care.
Training physicians to understand what is required to adequately support female athletes through training and education is vital to improving the approach to care and research across the field. The program includes women’s medicine and understanding aspects such as impact of pregnancy, age, nutrition and injuries unique to the female athlete.
“The field is relatively new, with a bright future. We plan to lead the advancement of Women’s Sports Medicine in clinical care, research, education and community engagement. Women continue to make significant strides in participation and performance in athletics. We aim to advance our care, in parallel, and ultimately provide the highest level of comprehensive, multidisciplinary care,” said Dr. McInnis.
For more information visit the Mass General Brigham Women’s Sports Medicine webpage or patients can call 617-726-0500 and request an appointment with Women’s Sports Medicine. The call center is available seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Learn about Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine services