UCSF sports medicine experts provide medical services at SF high school football games

By Maureen McInaney on October 30, 2002

UCSF physicians and athletic trainers are providing on-the-field expertise at San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) football games through an outreach program called PlaySafe.

In addition to providing physicians and athletic trainers at football games, the UCSF Sports Medicine Program is also sponsoring visits from athletic trainers several times a week to each of the eight SFUSD high schools with football programs.

Earlier this year, UCSF specialists conducted pre-season physical exams for players. With PlaySafe, local public high schools have access to team physicians and athletic trainers.

This means that the more than 1,000 athletes playing football each year have the benefit of experts uniquely qualified to determine when an athlete should play or be withheld from competition, said Marc Safran, MD, UCSF associate professor of orthopedic surgery and co-director of the UCSF Sports Medicine Program. He explained that recent deaths in high school, college and professional ranks have reinforced the importance of monitoring athletes more carefully.

“We hope that by providing physicians and trainers at the games and at various school sites during the week, we can help prevent injuries.  If injuries occur, we want athletes to return to play as soon as possible while avoiding re-injury,” said Safran.

As part of the PlaySafe Program, UCSF sponsors a free Saturday morning drop-in clinic for all Bay Area High School student athletes.

The clinic, located at 1701 Divisadero, Suite 240, is open every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. through November 23, 2002.

Physicians, athletic trainers, and physical therapists in the UCSF Sports Medicine Program offer expertise in treating injures to the shoulder, knee, elbow, hand, spine, foot and ankle.

Before coming to UCSF in July 2001, Safran served as the site physician for several U.S. Davis Cup matches, as physician for UC Irvine University of Pittsburgh intercollegiate athletics, and as the medical director of the Women’s Tennis Association Professional Tournament in San Diego. This summer, Safran was honored as Physician of the Year and received the Irving Glick Award for his service to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

Additionally, he has been a team physician or assistant team physician for many high school, college and professional teams, while also having served as a consultant to the United States Speedskating National Team.

He is the recipient of United States Tennis Association (USTA) grants to study tennis injury patterns in high-level, junior tennis players and in wheelchair athletes. Safran has a keen interest in sports injuries of the elbow, shoulder, and knee, including tennis injuries and their prevention, ligament injuries of the elbow, meniscus transplantation, knee ligament surgery, and shoulder surgery for arthritis and instability.

PlaySafe is funded by a grant from the Mount Zion Health Fund. The Fund provides support to programs that improve the physical, emotional and spiritual health of vulnerable populations. Formerly Mount Zion Hospital’s corporate parent, today the Fund preserves Mount Zion’s historical Jewish values and traditions through its philanthropy.

In the fiscal year 1999-2000 the Fund donated about $3.9 million to programs at Mount Zion for patient care, education and research.