New sports medicine program unites more than 30 university departments aimed at caring for “the athlete in all of us.”
In an exam area at Michigan Medicine's MedSport clinic, Asheesh Bedi looks at the knee of an Ann Arbor woman who is recovering from ACL surgery. She was injured when she slipped during a league volleyball match. Later in the day, Bedi will see an NFL player who is recovering from arthroscopic hip surgery.
These patients illustrate the range of a new program that Michigan Medicine is developing. Bedi (M.D. 2002, Residency 2007) has been named the director of the program, the Michigan Center for Human Athletic Medicine and Performance (MCHAMP). His vision is to build multidisciplinary partnerships across campus and with industry to develop programs in patient care, education, and research for elite and recreational athletes alike. The center's clinical hub will be at the East Ann Arbor health center and will treat all types of sports-related injuries.
Bedi is the head orthopaedic team physician for Michigan Athletics, and a team physician for the Detroit Lions. He is the head orthopaedic consultant for the NBA players' association, as well as a consultant for the NFL and NHL players' associations.
"We see MCHAMP as a way to care for the athlete in all of us," says Bedi, the Harold W. and Helen L. Gehring Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and chief of sports medicine, noting that half of all Americans will suffer a musculoskeletal disability at some point in their lives. "We have renowned providers in virtually every discipline: orthopaedics, cardiology, neurology, psychiatry, nutrition, and wellness. All of these specialties and more play an integral role in an athlete's overall sports health. By bringing the university's sports medicine enterprise under one umbrella we can provide comprehensive care to not only treat injury and disability, but even prevent it before it happens. This approach enhances learning opportunities for trainees and cultivates collaborative research environments that may not otherwise be possible." Bedi says that by realizing this vision, "MCHAMP will be one of the foremost sports centers in the world."
Partners in MCHAMP extend across campus in virtually every discipline, including those from the Ross School of Business, the School of Kinesiology, the College of Engineering, the School of Public Health, the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and the Medical School. It also encompasses partners in industry, peer institutions, and campuses around the world. Bedi and colleagues already are conducting collaborative research studies in ACL surgery with Peking University in China.
"The MCHAMP center creates a unique opportunity in our history at Michigan Medicine to coordinate and enhance all facets of sports medicine from cutting-edge clinical care, to athletic team health, research, and education," says James E. Carpenter (M.D. 1984), the Harold W. and Helen L. Gehring Professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. "With Dr. Bedi leading an internationally recognized faculty, the center will accelerate our growth as a destination for expert knowledge and care for athletes of all ages and abilities."
True to legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler's words, the strength of MCHAMP is in "the team, the team, the team," and bigger than any one individual, Carpenter says. The sports medicine group at Michigan Medicine — which was co-founded by Edward M. Wojtys (M.D. 1979, Residency 1984), the William S. Smith Collegiate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery — includes renowned clinicians who provide comprehensive care for athletic injuries in patients of all ages and at every level of sport, and are the team physicians for Michigan Athletics and Eastern Michigan University Athletics. "MCHAMP leverages what we have at Michigan Medicine that makes us unique: our tripartite mission of patient care, education, and research; our emphasis on precision health; a strong partnership with a top NCAA athletic program; top schools and colleges all around campus; and our tremendous alumni network," Bedi says. Alumni support already has been vital to MCHAMP; an early gift from Regent Ron Weiser — former ambassador to Slovakia, a Michigan alumnus, and the founder of McKinley Associates Inc. — has been instrumental in launching MCHAMP.
"Our 942 student athletes in 27 Division 1 sports are some of the most talented individuals in the world. The privilege to care for them and learn from their challenges is an unparalleled and unique platform to advance the care for each and every one of us," Bedi says.
This is "a particularly exciting time in sports medicine and joint preservation," Bedi says, citing minimally invasive surgical procedures that allow surgeons to repair tissues and fix bones across the body with great precision and accuracy. "We are also able to diagnose injuries sooner to allow for more expeditious treatment and recovery. New technologies are enabling us to identify at-risk conditions, sometimes preventing injuries or correcting abnormalities before irreversible damage occurs," Bedi says. "The scientists that are at the forefront of cell and molecular medicine at Michigan will help us to lead the way for benchtop-to-bedside medicine."
If the U-M Board of Regents approves the space plan in the fall, construction at the East Ann Arbor health center is expected to begin shortly afterward. A satellite clinic on the athletic campus is scheduled to begin construction in fall 2018, along with the official programmatic launch.
For Bedi and the growing staff of MCHAMP, though, the program is well underway. And not a moment too soon, he says. "In our society, pain and disability from joint, soft tissue, and other injuries affect our professional careers and recreational pursuits alike," Bedi says. "The preservation of an active lifestyle is of paramount importance and a common thread that unites all of us."
The prospects for the future are exciting to Michigan Athletics as well. Jim Harbaugh, the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach, invokes one of his most well-known quotes when discussing MCHAMP. Harbaugh has worked closely with Bedi and Bruce S. Miller, M.D., M.S., the medical director of MedSport and co-head orthopaedic team physician for Michigan Football, as well as many other physicians and therapists throughout Michigan Medicine.
"For many years, our Michigan Football program has been benefiting from the world-class medical care provided by Dr. Bedi, Dr. Miller, and all of our U-M team physicians. With the creation of MCHAMP, Ann Arbor will boast a medical campus where consolidated access to some of the most gifted medical minds, across a variety of disciplines, will be a reality," Harbaugh says.
"In the very near future," he adds, "the sports medicine community will be able to ask Who's got it better than us with MCHAMP? And the answer to that question will be nobody!"
MargaretAnn Cross contributed to this story.