USA Gymnastics appoints Medical Task Force
posted on 02/06/2013

© USA Gymnastics

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 6, 2013 - As part of its ongoing efforts to promote a safe environment for its athletes, USA Gymnastics is creating a Medical Task Force to review the organization's practices, procedures and protocols regarding athlete care.

"Athlete care has always been at the forefront of our efforts," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "USA Gymnastics is committed to improving our best practices throughout the organization, and this area is at the top of the list. We are blessed with talented, knowledgeable and dedicated medical professionals who work with us. This panel will create a roadmap for addressing any issues and concerns, along with establishing a network of resources for our community."

USA Gymnastics has selected some well-qualified members of the medical community to serve as the core members of the task force, along with an athlete representative.

  • Dr. Jay Binder of Mandeville, La., chairman. A member of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors, Binder has served on the International Gymnastics Federation's Medical Commission for eight years and has been the president of the FIG Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) Committee. A Board-certified and Fellowship-trained sports medicine orthopedic surgeon, Binder is the director of the Sports Medicine Center and a partner of The Bone and Joint Center in Metairie, La. He has served as the team physician for more than 20 years at numerous events for acrobatic gymnastics, including the World Championships, and on the artistic gymnastics medical staff for a variety of competitions, including the U.S. Championships, U.S. Olympic Trials, and World Championships. He also has provided coverage at the World Games and the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

  • Dr. George Drew of Three Rivers, Mich., vice chairman. A former member of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors, Drew is an emergency room physician at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth, Ind. He is also a trampoline and tumbling coach and a member of the national coaching staff. Drew has been a coach or a Brevet judge at a number of competitions, including five World Championships and three World Age Group Competitions. He is currently a managing partner and a member of the Executive Committee for the Valley Emergency Physicians Associates, and has served on a number of Boards. Drew is Board-certified in emergency medicine.

  • Dr. David Kruse of Huntington Beach, Calif. Kruse serves as the team physician for the U.S. Men's National Team. In his practice, he also serves as a team physician for the University of California, Irvine, and multiple local high schools and community colleges. Kruse has also provided care for USA Swimming and USA Water Polo. He is a primary care sports medicine specialist at the Orthopaedic Specialty Institute Medical Group of Orange County. As a competitor, Kruse was a four-time member of the U.S. Men's National Team and a three-time captain of the University of California, Berkeley, Men's Gymnastics Team, during which time they won the NCAA Championship. During the last five years, he has served with the medical staff for multiple USA Gymnastics events, including the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Kruse has board certifications in both family medicine and sports medicine.

  • Dr. Larry Nassar of Holt, Mich. Nassar is the USA Gymnastics medical director and has worked closely with the U.S. Olympic Committee on its medical network. He has served as the team physician at numerous World Championships and Olympic Games for the women's gymnastics team, as well as worked on the medical staff at many national events, including the U.S. Gymnastics Championships and U.S. Olympic Trials. Nassar also is the team physician for Gedderts' Twistars USA and the Michigan State University's women's gymnastics and crew teams; is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology, Division of Sports Medicine; and teaches sports medicine and physical exam skills at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State. Located at the Michigan State Sports Medicine Clinic, his medical practice is specific for osteopathic manual medicine and primary care sports medicine care of athletes. He also was a certified athletic trainer.

  • Ralph Reiff of Indianapolis, Ind. A licensed athletic trainer, Reiff is the executive director of St. Vincent Sports Performance, a program of St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital. He served as the manager of athlete care for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta for the organizing committee. Reiff started his career at Butler University, where he managed the athlete health care and was an assistant professor. He has worked or coordinated medical services for more than 25 elite events, including the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival, three Men's Final Four Basketball Championships, 1988 and 1996 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, 2004 World Swimming Championships, and 2006 USA Track Outdoor Championships. He is the co-author of the National Athletic Trainers Association 2000 Position Statement on Fluid Replacement for Athletes.

  • Alicia Sacramone of Winchester, Mass., athlete representative. A 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist, Sacramone won 10 World medals, the most by a U.S. gymnast. She won two individual World titles (floor, 2005; vault, 2010); helped Team USA to its first-ever team gold medal on foreign soil in 2007; and was a member of the 2011 gold-medal winning World Championships team. Sacramone also holds the U.S. record for the most individual event titles with her six vault crowns. She recently retired from competitive gymnastics and is planning to remain active in gymnastics through coaching, creating choreography and commentating at NCAA gymnastics competitions. She also is a co-owner of Sole Impact Socks, preventative apparel that absorbs up to 94.7 percent of all impact shock.

The areas the task force will review for best practices include:

  • "At risk" injuries and treatment, such as concussions, major long bone fractures and dislocations, major reconstructive surgeries, etc.;
  • Event and meet coverage;
  • Medical team members' responsibilities, including communicating with coaches and USA Gymnastics, obtaining appropriate referrals and follow-up care, and ethical obligations for addressing or reporting significant issues.

Other topics and initiatives the task force will explore are: developing a health care provider database to act as a resource for clubs across the country, as well as for elite athletes; identifying an educational platform for USA Gymnastics University that addresses first aid, etc.; and educating coaches and athletes specifically on U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and World Anti-Doping Agency policies and issues.

"It has been a while since we took a 360-degree look at this," said Penny. "The Medical Task Force will define the process and procedures that need to be in place for USA Gymnastics to move forward in this important area."