California group joins FIFA fold
© FIFA.com

Following the strategy implemented with the first opening of the FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence at the Schulthess clinic in Zurich in May 2005, the world governing body of football has decided to set-up further FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence across all continents to ensure that players have access to high quality football medicine. In a first phase, five more selected centres have received the official accreditation after careful evaluation of their application by the FIFA Sports Medical Committee.

On 10 December 2007, Jiri Dvorak, FIFA's Chief Medical Officer and Chairman of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), officially presented Dr Bert Mandelbaum, director, with the official accreditation certificate for the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group.

"This is an incredible honour for our multidisciplinary centre to be recognized as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence," said Dr Mandelbaum. "Having the opportunity to be part of FIFA's focus on research and education for prevention, injury care and rehabilitation, and performance optimisation in soccer players here in the U.S. is a mission we are excited to be involved in." Dr Mandelbaum is a member of US Soccer's Sports Medicine initiatives since 1990, working with thousands of athletes and virtually every U.S. National Team in that time. In this capacity he worked at four FIFA World Cups for the men's and two for the women in that period.

The vision behind creating a network of medical centres across the world is to ensure that players on all continents know where to go for expert care in football medicine, such as the prevention of injuries, early detection of risk factors for sudden cardiac death, as well as state-of-the-art diagnosis and therapy services. For more than twelve years, Santa Monica Orthopaedic has depended upon a multi-disciplinary approach to sports medicine. The football athletes treated there have medical issues that exceed any one medical provider's expertise. In order to optimise the athlete's physical, mental and emotional health, advice of specialty consultants hand picked from a metropolitan area rich in first rate clinicians and scientists is sought.

Prevention efforts of Santa Monica Orthopaedic have addressed two common injuries present in the male and female game. Their first effort was focused directly on the prevention of ACL injury in the female athlete. Due to the increasing incidence in football, the research team developed the PEP-programme, a twenty-minute alternative warm-up programme to actively address the some deficits present in high risk female footballers with the ultimate goal of decreasing the incidence of ACL injury.

Approximately 2000 PEP videos/DVDs have been distributed worldwide. The second focus of their collective prevention efforts has been devoted to the male football athlete and the high incidence of groin related injuries. The clinical multi-disciplinary approach is equally applied to the research of Santa Monica Orthopaedic. "Research can be awkward without good clinical input and vice versa", says Dr Mandelbaum.

"The accumulated body of knowledge in football medicine needs to be practically implemented so that players can fully benefit from state-of-the-art prevention, treatment and rehabilitation," said Prof. Dvorak. "FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence like the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group ensure this. In addition, they educate and train the next generation of clinical specialists and scientists committed to football medicine."

On 14 December, the St Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Japan will be inaugurated as the third FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence by Michel D'Hooghe, MD, Chairman of the FIFA Sports Medical Committee. The adidas Sports Medicine Centre in Auckland/New Zealand, the Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg/South Africa and the Orthocentre of the Technical University Munich will follow in early 2008.