Mercy Health Orthopaedic Specialists Attend NFL Scouting Combine and Bring Back Elite Athlete Best Practices to Benefit You!

(CINCINNATI; March 19, 2014) – Recently, Mercy Health Physicians and Cincinnati SportsMedicine arthroscopic surgery and sports medicine specialists Marc Galloway, MD, Head Team Physician for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Bengals Team Physician Matthew Busam, MD were among the medical staff representing the Bengals at the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The annual NFL Scouting Combine is an intensive, five-day event where the country’s top college football players and NFL prospects have the opportunity to display their physical prowess, football intellect and talent. Coaches, owners, scouts and the medical staffs of all 32 NFL teams evaluate the players, who hope to the Combine will lead them to fulfilling their dreams of playing professional football.

Drs. Galloway and Busam help in performing the orthopaedic evaluation of each participant. This is a key component of the Combine. Many prospects have seen their draft status fall precipitously after an unfavorable medical report following the evaluation at the Combine. The team physicians will evaluate up to 80 players daily, conducting a battery of tests to determine each athlete’s potential to withstand the rigors of the NFL.

The physicians work closely with the Bengals Head Athletic Trainer, Paul Sparling, ATC who coordinates the evaluation process as well as the care that the team receives throughout the year.

“We perform a comprehensive medical evaluation of every athlete. Depending on the player’s medical history, this can include MRIs, CT scans, nuclear medicine studies, nerve conduction tests, strength tests, X-rays and more,” says Dr. Galloway.

The Combine is also a great educational experience for the teams’ physicians.

“There are very few settings where sports medicine specialists get to evaluate hundreds of elite athletes, almost all of who have had some type of injury. Injury treatment plans vary across the country and by evaluating so many high-level athletes year in and year out, we gain insight into the results of those treatment methods and learn which are most successful,” says Dr. Galloway.

“It’s one thing to hear about treatment outcomes at meetings or to read about them in journals. It’s another thing entirely to personally examine these players and learn the lessons that they can teach first hand. Our goal is to bring this knowledge home and to apply it while working to help recreational, school aged and collegiate athletes that we care for in Cincinnati achieve their recovery goals after an injury.”

In addition to being Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Fellowship trained and holding Certificates of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Sports Medicine, both doctors are members of the National Football League Physician Society (NFLPS). The NFLPS holds its scientific meetings at the Combine every year. Here, doctors review lessons from the previous season, learn the results of research aimed at decreasing the risk and extent of football injuries and identify areas for future research.

“This meeting, together with other professional association meetings, keeps us on the cutting edge of sports medicine advances available to our players and patients. They also help separate proven treatments from passing fads, such as platelet rich plasma therapy for torn hamstrings, which was all the rage a few years back but may not have been all that helpful in treating this common football injury,” says Dr. Galloway.

Doctors at this year’s NFLPS meeting reviewed guidelines for the management of concussions in addition providing updates on the prevention and treatment of knee, ankle and shoulder injuries. They took a look at field-related injuries like turf toe - a debilitating injury to the connective tissue between the foot and big toe - and the role shoe design might play in preventing these injuries. They also took note of a study that examined players with posterior instability of the shoulder and found that arthroscopic treatment provides a predictable and successful return to football in these high demand athletes.

“The Bengals medical team is currently using data derived from the Combine to determine which surgical technique for shoulder instability are most effective in helping players begin rehabilitation sooner and recover more quickly,” says Dr. Busam. “We have found that arthroscopic surgery and open surgery both repair shoulder instability, but arthroscopic surgery leads to shorter and more productive rehabilitation periods, meaning that player is healthy and available to play sooner than if we use another method.”

Dr. Galloway relates that, “Tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are common knee injuries that are not unique to football but represent one of the most common causes for surgery that we see in the athletes at the Combine. In 20-plus years of treating athletes with ACL tears, I have seen many advances that have contributed to the improved outcomes we have now come to expect following this procedure, one of which is the timing of surgery. The standard of care among the majority of NFL physicians is to not rush patients to surgery following the initial knee injury. Doing so increases the risk of knee stiffness and makes for a more difficult recovery.

“Another is the choice of what type of tissue to use as a substitute for the torn ACL. It is very clear that in an athletic population, results obtained by using the patient’s own tissue are superior to those in which a doctor uses tissue obtained from an organ donor. It’s also important to understand that the majority of NFL players will rehabilitate and train for up to nine months before returning to full competition after an ACL surgery. These facts are helpful when counseling our patients and their families about what to expect after their surgery.”

“Football is a collision sport and injuries will always be part of the game,” notes Dr. Galloway. “Our goals are to distinguish between injuries that place a player at risk for permanent injury and those which, while painful, do not and can allow the athlete to continue to play. For those athletes with season-impacting injuries, we strive to institute treatment plans that give our players and patients the best chance to get back to their game as quickly and safely as possible.”

Dr. Galloway practices from Mercy Health – Cincinnati Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center locations in Mason (7423 South Mason-Montgomery Road, Ohio 45040), Montgomery (10663 Montgomery Road, Ohio 45242) and Crestview Hills (328 Thomas More Parkway, Kentucky 41017). Dr. Busam practices from Mercy Health – Cincinnati Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center locations in Western Hills (6350 Glenway Ave., Suite 415, Ohio 45211) and Crestview Hills (as noted previously). Call 513-347-9999 to schedule an appointment with Drs. Galloway or Busam.

To find a Mercy Health physician in your neighborhood, or to learn about the services provided at Mercy Health, please visit or call 513-981-2222.