Posts Tagged ‘atlanta falcons’

Q&A with Atlanta Falcons Team Physician

Dr. Spero Karas

Dr. Spero Karas at the Super Bowl

In addition to his duties as an orthopedic surgeon at Emory Sports Medicine Center, Dr. Spero Karas has served as the head team physician for the Atlanta Falcons since 2011. He provides sideline support and oversees the orthopedic and medical care for both the Falcons’ athletes and coaches.

Last Sunday culminated in one of the most exciting seasons in the history of Atlanta’s hometown team after making it to the Super Bowl for the second time in the team’s history.

We caught up with Dr. Karas as he returned home from Houston to talk about the season, working with the Falcons and going to the Super Bowl.

Q: How has it been working with the Falcons this year?  

A: Well, the season was a success on a number of levels. We won our division, our conference, and of course played in the Super Bowl — one of the most exciting and memorable games in Super Bowl history. From the professional side, we took great pride in the care we provided the team. We gave them early access to all of Emory’s outstanding subspecialties, as well as fulfilled all their sports medicine needs.

Q: What were some highlights on this journey to the Super Bowl?

A: Football is football in almost any context. Obviously, playing in the last game of the season does provide some unique challenges. A longer season means more opportunity for wear and tear on the body and subsequent injuries. As a medical staff, we took great care to monitor exertion and make sure the players were optimized physically in terms of nutrition, sleep and recovery.

The really unique thing about the Super Bowl is the actual pace of the game. The pregame happens an hour earlier than it does during the regular season. Halftime in the NFL regular-season is only 12 minutes, but at the Super Bowl halftime was 30 minutes long. There are also many more commercial breaks during the Super Bowl. In a medical context, this is actually advantageous because it allows more “down time” with the players and allows us to keep them hydrated. The negative is that same down time may allow the muscles to cool and the players may have a little bit more difficulty staying loose during the game.

Q: Tell me about the importance of caring for the team/the team’s health whether in the super bowl or playing on the field in general.

A: Any sports team has a unique set of important requirements for the health and safety of the player. The NBA’s requirements may be a little bit different than Major League Baseball’s or the NFL’s. But the most important thing is the health and safety of the players — whether it’s in practice, in games or even during the off-season. I think a lot of these lessons can also be transferred to collegiate, high school and youth sports as well.

Q: Leading up to the Super Bowl…how did you prepare for this exciting opportunity?

A: I don’t think there was any specific preparation required for the Super Bowl. But, we did have some unique situations in terms of player health management between the NFC championship game and the Super Bowl. We were able to pull this off with a multidisciplinary team of athletic trainers, therapists, and physicians so we had a full, healthy roster on the day of the game

Q: What a great season on the field overall! What are some of your takeaways?

A: I think a lot of people see the 16 games of the regular season and say, “Wow, that’s a really long four months.” But in reality, the football season can actually be much longer. It begins at the end of July with a month of training camp (which includes four preseason games) and then flows straight into the 16-game regular season. If you make the playoffs, your season extends by yet another month. So the main takeaway would be “It’s a long season — longer than most people think. It’s important to pace ourselves and watch our players closely for fatigue and over-exertion.”

Q: What’s one piece of advice you have for someone who aspires to become a health professional and to take care of an NFL team?

A: Well, it’s a long road — four years of college, four years of medical school, five years of residency and then a year of sports medicine fellowship. When you take care of a professional sports club, you really need to be available for the coaches, players and staff at any time. Having a great team, like we do at Emory Sports Medicine, obviously makes the job easier because you can have a number of excellent doctors helping out.

Dr. Karas is the Director of the Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program and an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University. He’s an internationally-recognized expert in the field of sports medicine, surgery of the shoulder and knee and arthroscopic surgery.  He was joined at the Super Bowl by fellow Emory Sports Medicine Center physicians Dr. Jeffrey Webb, Dr. Brandon Mines and Dr. Kyle Hammond.

Emory Healthcare Physicians Provide Care for Falcons as They Approach Super Bowl LI


Emory Healthcare Team Physicians for the Atlanta Falcons, Spero Karas, Jeffrey Webb and Brandon Mines, are pictured here on the Georgia Dome field following the Falcon’s historic win on January 22nd against the Greenbay Packers.

The atlanta falcons are on a historic run after a monumental win in the NFC Championship Game, advancing to the Super Bowl LI.

“We’re very excited to help take the team to the next level”, says Falcons head team orthopedic physician, Spero Karas.

Emory Healthcare, the most comprehensive academic healthcare system in Atlanta, treats the Atlanta Falcons on and off the field, overseeing the orthopedic and medical care for the Falcons’ athletes and coaches.

“Each player’s health and well-being is important. So if a player is injured, we’re here to keep them safely in the game and help them reach their dream- a Super Bowl win.”
Emory Healthcare physicians will care for the team as they chase the title.

The Falcons make their second Super Bowl appearance in the team’s 51 year history, seeking their first win, this time in Houston Texas, vs. the New England Patriots, Sunday, February 5th, 2017.

Emory Sports Medicine Center

The Emory Sports Medicine Center is a global leader in providing advanced treatments for patients with sports and orthopedic injuries. Whether you’re a pro athlete or weekend warrior, you want the best possible outcome and recovery after a sports injury. We cover many specialties and conduct research to keep sports medicine moving forward.

Emory Sports Medicine Puts Former Falcons Player Back in the Game After Jones Fracture

Atlanta Falcons Jones Fracture Sports MedicineA couple of years ago, a young recruit of the Atlanta Falcons football team was running during practice when his cleat got caught in the turf, a misstep that led to him both twisting and breaking his foot. The injury turned out to be what’s known as a “Jones fracture,” which is a very specific break in one of the bones in the midportion of the foot.

The Falcons recruit went out of state for surgery to insert a screw in his foot that would secure the bone while it healed, but his injury never healed properly, and on the first day of football practice the next year, he rebroke his foot. This time, he decided to find a surgeon in the Atlanta area and was referred to Dr. Sam Labib, director of the foot and ankle service at the Emory Sports Medicine Center.

During his time practicing at Emory, Dr. Labib has become very familiar with the Jones fracture. “As it turned out, at Emory, we had done extensive anatomic research on this particular type of injury and knew the ideal location for the screw,” he says. “When he came in for surgery, we removed the screw, cleaned up the bone, and replaced the screw in a better, more stable area.”

“Because we are a research environment as well as a surgical practice, we have a wealth of information and experience to bring to bear on injuries such as the Jones fracture,” Dr. Labib says. “Doing anatomic research is like drawing a map for surgery. With practice, we can effectively calculate the path of the screw and place it in the most solid position. Our patients benefit from this research and expertise.”

According to Dr. Labib, a Jones fracture typically takes a minimum of three months to heal. In the football player’s case, the fracture healed beautifully after his surgery at Emory, and he was back to training just three months later.

Have you had foot surgery, or would you like to learn more about foot surgery at Emory? We welcome your questions and feedback for Dr. Labib in the comments section below.

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Using Biomechanics & Motion Analysis to Enhance Athletic Performance & Reduce Injuries

For those people who participate in competitive sports, athletic injury and related pain are not uncommon. Even without being an athlete yourself, you’re likely no stranger to some of the worst injuries that have been sustained by professional athletes. Mary Pierce and her torn ACL, Willis McGahee’s broken leg post-collision on the field, or Tony Saunder’s (Devil Rays’ pitcher) breaking his arm while throwing a pitch are just a few noteworthy examples. More recently, we saw Peyton Manning sidelined with a neck injury that kept him from participating in this year’s NFL season.

It is injuries like these and research being conducted in the world of biomechanics that is helping today’s athletes make strides in improving their form and physical durability.

Research and evaluation into biomechanics has resulted in new technology that allows experts to capture the movements of an athlete and analyze those movements via specialized software. The takeaways from the analysis are used to help educate and train athletes to move in the most effective and efficient ways to reduce injury and maximize outcomes. While much of this technology is emerging from colleges and universities around the U.S. and in turn, helping keep college athletes operating at peak performance, the same technology is also being used by professional athletes and their trainers.

As Jeff Fish, director of athletic performance for the Atlanta Falcons explains in a recent article covering biomechanics, “You have to look at the movement. It’s so much bigger than just is this player strong, is this player fast.” And with the help of Emory’s Dr. Spero G. Karas, head team physician for the Falcons, the team has one of the lowest injury rates in the NFL.

To help keep injury rates low and enhance performance among the Falcons, a fairly scientific process is in place. More than once a year, each player from the Falcons goes through “functional movement screening,” during which their strengths and weaknesses from a biomechanical movement standpoint are evaluated and they are each given a healthy motion score. After each player’s risk factors are evaluated, a customized plan is developed for each of them. Plan success is determined based on changes in the healthy motion score gleaned from the functional movement screenings.

Dr. Spero Karas

Dr. Spero Karas

Furthermore, now when a Falcons player is injured, that healthy motion score provides a baseline for team physicians such as Dr. Spero Karas to use to measure improvement in the athlete’s range of motion after injury and rehabilitation.

As Dr. Karas explains, “I can use that objective data that was generated before the athlete was injured to help me evaluate the athlete at the time of return to play.”

These are some pretty amazing developments for the athletic and medical worlds. For years, we’ve seen players watch their own game footage/tapes for insight into how they can better execute each play on the field. Now, with the help of biomechanics, functional movement screenings, and experts such as Dr. Spero Karas, those same players can learn how to fine tune their movements before taking the field to ensure the outcomes once there are the best they can be.

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Not Just on the Sidelines: Emory Sports Medicine Doctors Work with the Atlanta Falcons On & Off the Field

Dr. Spero Karas Atlanta Falcons Team Doctor

Source: Atlanta Falcons Website

The Atlanta Falcons recently contracted Emory Sports Medicine physicians to help manage the team’s sports medicine needs. I am honored to now serve as the Falcons’ head team physician; my colleague, Dr. Jeff Webb, is the assistant team physician. Now that football season is finally upon us, we’re staying busy!

We’re excited to be bringing expert care to the Falcons in a three-prong approach that includes:

  • Athletic performance improvement – strength training and conditioning, biomechanical corrections, and injury prevention through corrective exercises and through training that improves flexibility, flexibility, posture, gait, and overall core strength and strength and balance.
  • Athletic training – the care and prevention of injuries through treatment, taping and orthotics, bracing, heat, ultrasound, muscle stimulation and similar methods.
  • Sports medicine – surgical and medical care of injuries and illnesses

As head team physician, I direct the sports medicine prong, working closely with Dr. Webb and drawing on all the resources of Emory Sports Medicine and Emory Healthcare so that, whatever the problem, I can rely on the finest specialists in the field. The Falcons play really hard and end up with many interesting injuries and illnesses. It’s my job to make sure that the Falcons are wrapped in a complete blanket of world-class care. Emory Sports Medicine offers comprehensive services and renowned experts who can cater to the needs of each player and his specific injury.

As you can see, our work will extend far beyond the sidelines of the games, but Dr. Webb and I will also be there on the sidelines for every game, assessing injuries, and providing care.

I’m really looking forward to being at the games with the Falcons, though it does require me to separate the football fan in me from the physician, taking a more analytic approach to the game. When the Falcons score a touchdown, I’ll be focused not on the elation of the moment or the guy who brought it into the end zone, but on all eleven guys who just contributed to that score. I’ll make sure they’re properly hydrated and that there are no issues arising from their ongoing injuries. I have to be more aware of the medical situation rather than getting too caught up in the excitement of the game.

I’m very proud to be the Falcons’ head team physician, but ultimately my job is to provide the best, most competent care in order to insure the health and safety of each athlete. I’ll save my own celebrating for later, when the job is done.

See how Dr. Karas and the team at Emory Sports Medicine is working with the Atlanta Falcons in this short video, “Meeting the New Team Physician,” on the Atlanta Falcons website.

About Dr. Spero Karas

Dr. Karas is the Director of the Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program and an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University. His specialties include sports medicine, surgery of the shoulder and knee, and arthroscopic surgery. He is Board Certified in Orthopaedic Surgery, with a subspecialty certification in Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. He currently serves as team physician for the Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Tech Baseball and Lakeside High School, as well as a consulting team physician for Emory University, Ogelthorpe University, Perimeter College, Oglethorpe University, Perimeter College, and Georgia Tech athletics. He cares for patients and athletes of all levels: professional, collegiate, scholastic, and recreational.