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Rochester Sports Medicine Keeps Pace with Best in World

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Michael Maloney, M.D.

After touring 12 different European cities in 25 days, orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine expert Michael Maloney, M.D., is a satisfied – if not – tired man.  As one of only three orthopaedic surgeons in North America awarded a Traveling Fellowship by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), Maloney recently completed a whirlwind month-long tour of Europe’s top sports medicine and Olympic training centers to observe and share best practices and advances in research.

In almost every instance, Maloney, who directs the University of Rochester Medical Center’s University Sport Medicine division, said the state of U.S. sports medicine is in great shape.

“It was an incredible opportunity to interact with peers in Europe and to see the similarities and differences in our practices and our medical education system. In general, we are at the cutting edge in diagnosis and treatment, and I believe the world still looks to what is being done in the United States as the standard of care for most conditions,” Maloney said. 

A world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication, and fellowship, AOSSM annually awards traveling fellowships to three orthopaedic surgeons in North America deemed to be the future leaders in sports medicine by their peers.  Maloney’s travels took him to major academic sports and Olympic training centers in Oslo, Norway; London, England; Amsterdam, Holland; Nijmegen, Netherlands; Brussels, Ghent and Aalst, Belgium; Lyon, France; Geneva, Switzerland; Milan, Italy;Kitzbuhe and Innsbruck, Austria. While in each center, he “scrubbed in” to witness surgeries, reviewed patient cases, and gave presentations and instruction on clinical treatments and research being performed in Rochester.

Different Continents, Different Treatments

Maloney said he was a little surprised to see that “what we’re doing here from a clinical and research standpoint is in some cases more advanced than in Europe.” Without a major oversight government agency like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration operating in most European countries, the continent is often considered to be a testing and proving ground for many new clinical treatments.

Arthroscopic surgical techniques, particularly for shoulder conditions, was one specific area where he feels Rochester is superior to any of the sites he visited, and attributes this to our national pastime, baseball. 

“With the amount of baseball played in America, it makes sense that we see a lot more injuries to the shoulder and rotator cuff, and therefore are more advanced in our understanding of the common injuries and how best to treat them,” Maloney said. “Likewise, with the popularity of soccer and handball in Europe, where the knee is more exposed to repetitive cuts and turns, I saw some areas where Europeans are aggressively pursuing preventive measures to diminish knee injuries.”

Maloney said he plans to work with USM’s athletic trainers and physical therapists to incorporate knee injury prevention techniques he learned while in Oslo into the organization’s ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) Injury Prevention program.

On the research side, Maloney said that both continents seemed to be focused on similar subject areas like use of growth factors to help restore cartilage, and other therapies to stimulate and accelerate soft tissue healing in meniscal and ACL surgery.

“It was gratifying to see that physicians and scientists are asking the same questions we are here in Rochester,” he said, adding that in the near future, he can foresee a collaboration on clinical trials with some of the sites.

Maloney also expects to reciprocate when the European fellows come through the United States. “There was great enthusiasm and interest to visit Rochester and see firsthand the groundbreaking research being done in Center for Musculoskeletal Research and the advances being translated into patient care in the clinic and operating room.”

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