January 26, 2018

Keeping UNC Asheville Athletes Healthy On and Off the Court

Being at your best is important when you’re an athlete. And now, with the partnership between the University of North Carolina – Asheville (UNCA) and Mission Sports Medicine, student athletes will be even better.

“I am extremely excited about this new partnership,” said Marc Haro, MD, MSPT, an orthopedic surgeon with Asheville Orthopaedic Associates, an affiliate of Mission Health, and surgical director for Mission Sports Medicine. “We have built an outstanding team of specialists in what is the only true comprehensive sports medicine program in western North Carolina. This includes access to fellowship-trained orthopedic sports medicine, primary care sports medicine specialists and the Mission Health system as a whole.”

Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick, head coach of the UNCA women’s basketball program, agrees. “Partnering with Mission Sports Medicine will ensure our student athletes have consistent and quality care from physicians who are some of the best in their fields, and are excited to work with our students on a daily basis,” she said.

“Caring for the student athlete begins with making sure they are thriving mentally, physically and emotionally on and off the court,” she added. “This is something our coaches and administration at UNCA prioritize above winning championships. We can achieve this goal much easier with Mission Sports Medicine as an invested partner.”

Collaborations in Care

This partnership is part of a larger initiative between Mission Health and the university. “The goal is for UNCA and Mission Health to promote health and wellness in the Asheville area,” said Dr. Haro.

Other components include establishing the Healthy Campus 2020 Initiative intended to improve health and wellness of students, faculty and staff, provide internships in health science and administration for undergraduate students, and offer scholarships to students going into healthcare professions.

“As part of the Mission Sports Medicine team, our outstanding affiliated specialists stand ready to help care for student athletes,” said Dr. Haro. “UNCA student athletes now have a whole health system behind them. We will help elevate the care of these student athletes by using evidence-based practices and developing policies and procedures to optimize their care and treatment. We are adding to the on-the-field emergency response team and resources available to UNCA.”

Avoiding injury is a priority for the UNCA men’s basketball program. “Having doctors and therapists present in our training room on a day-to-day basis will benefit our program in the short and long run. The constant oversight and care from Mission athletic trainers and doctors allow our athletes to stay healthy and get back on the floor quicker after injuries,” said Nick McDevitt, UNCA men’s basketball head coach.

Treating and Preventing Injuries

Kirkpatrick, a former Division I student athlete, can attest to the rigors of playing college-level sports on the body and mind.

“It is critical to have a support team capable of addressing all aspects of the total person, not just the athletic development piece,” she said. “When student athletes have resources at their fingertips, if an injury does occur knowing they have assistance means they can focus on their obligations and perform at high levels in all areas.”

“It’s about our student-athlete care and student-athlete welfare,” said McDevitt. “I think being able to partner with a hospital and hospital system like Mission and the talented doctors, physicians and therapists who are now at our disposal only continues to push our program forward as well as the things we can do here as an athletics department.”

“By providing access to timely primary and orthopedic care, we plan to not only treat injuries but prevent them too,” said Dr. Haro.

Dr. Haro hopes to translate this model into care for all athletes and active individuals within western North Carolina, including athletes from area high schools and youth organizations to weekend warriors. “We want all area athletes to have to access to the same team of specialists our partners at UNCA have,” he said.

Marc Haro, MD, MSPT, is an orthopedic surgeon with Asheville Orthopaedic Associates, an affiliate of Mission Health, and surgical director for Mission Sports Medicine.

To learn more about how you can receive the same care as student athletes at UNCA, the Mission Orthopedics AOA Walk-In Clinic at Biltmore Park, located at 310 Longs Shoals Road in Arden, is open Monday – Friday and holds a Concussion Clinic every Friday afternoon. To schedule an appointment, call (828) 782-9330 or visit mission-health.org/boneandjoint.