Last week, with the sudden passing of Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, the UConn athletics family and athletes everywhere lost a compassionate physician and strong advocate for health and safety in sports. Dr. Anderson was head team physician for UConn from 1993-2014. He left that position to take on the challenges of directing student health services at UConn while serving as the impartial administrator for Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Dr. Anderson graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, where he did his residency in Family Medicine. This provided him with a broad medical background that he decided to apply to sports medicine. He did a fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine (PCSM) before taking the position at UConn.
PCSM, a relatively new field thirty years ago, has continued to grow and attract many bright young physicians. Prior to the increased involvement of primary care physicians, orthopedic surgeons managed most of sports medicine.
The increasing complexities of sports performance have resulted in the expansion of the sports medicine team. Dr. Anderson saw the need before others and invited a variety of specialists to join him including this writer.
PCSM fellowships are open to physicians who have completed residencies in family medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics or internal medicine. The principal focus of these specialists is non-operative orthopedic problems and general medical conditions.
Another crucial role of the PCSM physician is preventing injury. This often involves counseling athletes and creating an effective rehabilitation program.
Knowledge of performance enhancing drugs and how they are used has become another important facet to PCSM. In many of these situations athletes are trying to gain an edge by taking supplements that unknowingly contain banned substances. These circumstances can only be avoided by education.
Dr. Anderson was masterful at treating and protecting athletes while providing an example for other physicians.
Dr. Alessi is a neurologist in Norwich and serves as an on-air contributor for ESPN. He is director of UConn NeuroSport and can be reached at email@example.com.