Dr. Zachary Maass on the football sideline

Athletes have access to sports medicine doctors, athletic trainers, physical therapists and other kinesiology specialists

This fall sports season, athletes at Woodstock Academy have UConn experts on their team.

Designed to bring together sports medicine expertise within UConn Health and injury prevention and rehabilitation services within the Department of Kinesiology at the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, the UConn Institute for Sports Medicine and Woodstock Academy have established a new partnership of focused on providing the next level of resources and care for these high school athletes.

Having just one team of people invested in our school and our students, and coming to our school with that attitude, has been really great. – Woodstock Academy Athletic Director Sean Saucier

In his role as team doctor, Dr. Zachary Maass, one of UConn Health’s sports medicine specialists, will be present for the football games, as well as the basketball games and home games of the other teams. But his service goes beyond the border.

“What we’re offering, first of all, is effective access for all their athletes to step in and get the care they need if an injury occurs,” Maass says. “Furthermore, we are offering training rooms for doctors in the country. I go there every Thursday afternoon and see any athlete who needs to be seen. Further, as needed, we will mobilize various resources from the Institute of Medicine. “Sports, whether it’s a dynamic heat education or a throwing program for baseball players, based on what the school wants.”

Justin Bolton, one of the athletic trainers at the UConn Institute for Sports Medicine, works with the school’s athletic training staff and covers games when needed, and helps facilitate care when an athlete needs to be seen.

“Depending on his injury and its severity, being seen quickly in an orthopedic office can be very crucial to the athlete’s recovery,” says Bolton. “Our relationship with Woodstock Academy enables an effective service for that athlete to receive the care he or she needs.”

The UConn Institute for Sports Medicine and the Woodstock Academy, a private high school northeast of Connecticut with 25 campus teams and about 300 athletes per season, have worked together in a less formal capacity for more than a year, on a limited due to the slowdown in pandemic-related high school athletics.

“We are fortunate to have two athletic coaches on staff, but with so many teams and athletes, they are constantly overloaded,” says Sean Saucier, athletic director of the Woodstock Academy and football coach. “When it comes to athletes, some high-level athletes, access to care — getting an MRI within 48 hours, for example — is a tremendous resource.”

This summer, Maass brought other UConn Health doctors and athletic trainers to the Woodstock Academy campus to perform dozens of pre-season physical exercises.

“We are excited to be joining Woodstock coaches and athletic trainers to provide best practice care from prevention to safe return to sport,” says physical therapist and athletic trainer Laurie Devaney, co-chair of the UConn Institute for Medicine Sports. “This partnership offers great opportunities to expand access to care for student-athletes and is relevant to our research mission at UConn.”

Other elements of the UConn-Woodstock partnership include emergency action plans and injury prevention programs. And if an injury is such that surgery is recommended, it is a natural gateway for UConn Health orthopedic surgeons and a rehabilitation best practice program for safe return to play.

“They are clearly passionate about what they do,” Saucier says. “Having just one team of people invested in our school and our students, and coming to our school with that attitude, has been really great.”

Learn more about the UConn Institute for Sports Medicine.

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