April 09, 2018
UH physician works behind the scenes at the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games
Innovations in Orthopedics - Spring 2018
Would you take a job that required international travel, 15-hour days and no pay?
If you're Team USA physician Shana Miskovsky, MD, Orthopedic Sports Medicine, UH Cleveland Medical Center, Head Team Physician, Case Western Reserve University Spartans Athletics and Head Team Physician, Lake Erie College Storm Athletics, and Assistant Professor, Orthopedic Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, you accept the role without question.
Working with the United States Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine Division, Dr. Miskovsky has served as a team doctor for the past three Paralympic Games, including the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. There, she served as team doctor for the Team USA ParaCurling team, a role she has held since 2010. She also treats athletes from numerous other sports.
“It is truly an honor to meet Team USA Paralympians and provide them with medical care,” Dr. Miskovsky says. “The Paralympic athletes embody the true spirit of the Olympic movement. They not only are amazing athletes, but amazing people. That's why I serve them.”
JOINING THE TEAM
Dr. Miskovsky learned about the USOC volunteer physician program as an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Fellow for Knee and Shoulder Surgery at the Hughston Clinic in Columbus, Georgia. Her mentor there, Dr. Glenn Terry, was the Olympic Stadium Head Physician for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. He encouraged her to apply.
She did. And in 2007 and 2008, the USOC selected Dr. Miskovsky to serve as a volunteer physician at U.S. Olympic Training Centers in Marquette, Michigan, and Lake Placid, New York, respectively. At the training centers, Dr. Miskovsky treated athletes ranging from developmental talent to current Olympians. She worked at the training centers and at high-profile events for three years before the USOC selected her for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics.
In Pyeongchang, Dr. Miskovsky provided general medical care with an emphasis on musculoskeletal injury treatment, treating both acute injuries caused by trauma as well as chronic overuse injuries.
Although Paralympic athletes experience strains and sprains like able-bodied athletes, they also develop injuries unique to their disabiity.
“Wheelchair athletes can develop upper limb overuse injuries from pushing their chair,” Dr. Miskovsky says. “If they don't have normal sensation in their limbs and pelvis, there is a risk of fracture and pressure sores. And spinal-cord-injured athletes can be more sensitive to heat illness or hypothermia because their body temperature regulatory systems don't work properly.”
Dr. Miskovsky says athletes with prosthetic limbs have a greater risk of falling due to ice, a pothole or a steep wheelchair ramp, all of which can cause serious injury. Residual limb breakdown or laceration can impact prosthesis fit, which affects the athlete's ability to compete.
COMMITTED TO CARE
As Head Team Physician for all sports for Case Western Reserve University Spartans Division III and Lake Erie College Storm Division II at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Dr. Miskovsky understands the nuances of team care. In Pyeongchang, she provided treatment morning, afternoon and evening, with between-venue travel and emergency care wedged in between. Her day often ended at 11:30 p.m., provided no athete needed her.
In addition to treating injuries, Dr. Miskovsky reviewed medications to make sure they contained no ingredients on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. If an athlete was selected for drug testing, she accompanied and helped them through the process.
At the Paralympic Village athletic training room, Dr. Miskovsky and her Team USA cohorts educated athletes on everything from proper nutrition and sleep habits to rehabilitation exercises.
“We have an excellent, diverse medical team made up of orthopaedic surgeons, primary care physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports psychologists, massage therapists and chiropractors,” she says. “We collaborate often to provide the athlete with the most effective, comprehensive care so they can continue competing at a high level.”
After serving this year at the Winter Paralympic Games, Dr. Miskovsky flew to Milan, Italy, to be the team doctor for Team USA figure skaters competing in the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships. As a former competitive figure skater and coach, working with these athletes is one more way Dr. Miskovsky gives back to her community.
Despite the long hours, and long-haul flights, she will most likely resume her Team USA role in Beijing in 2022, for good reason. Dr. Miskovsky says, “The Paralympians' incredible spirit, courage, dedication, humanity, grace and humor through all of the obstacles they have overcome serves as a great reminder to all of us to serve others, appreciate life to the fullest, and to get up after you have fallen down.”
To refer a patient to Dr. Miskovsky to discuss a sports-related injury, call 216-844-7200.