Katherine Bartush, MD, and Kenneth Kenneth-Nwosa, MD, sports medicine physicians at UT Health San Antonio, were young basketball athletes who traded their jerseys for white coats in college.
But they returned to the court this weekend to experience March Madness 2022 — from the sidelines. For this sports medicine duo, it’s a courtside dream come true.
The AT&T Center hosted three NCAA men’s basketball tournament games this year. While each of the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight teams traveled to the Alamo City with their own doctors, a group of local experts — including from UT Health San Antonio — were on call in case of an emergency.
“We were courtside as a point of reference for the teams if they needed us. We know the lay of the land in terms of medical protocols,” said Dr. Bartush, director of sports medicine at UT Health San Antonio and head orthopaedic surgeon at The University of Texas at San Antonio. “We were chosen because we can provide not just orthopaedic care, but also broad-based multispecialty care. It was definitely a group effort.”
The athletes competing in the tournament require around-the-clock care, said Dr. Bartush.
“Every minute counts. These athletes are playing at the elite level. They’ve prepared for this their entire lives,” she said. “Any difference that we can make, not just on game day, but also beforehand is important. It’s the level of care that they deserve, but it’s also the level of care that they expect.”
Drs. Kenneth-Nwosa and Bartush are no strangers to pressure. UT Health San Antonio is the official health care partner for UTSA Athletics, and the doctors have been treating athletes all season.
“Dr. Kenneth-Nwosa and I represent our Department of Orthopaedics and particularly sports medicine,” said Dr. Bartush. “We rely on a larger team, which encompasses our relationship with UTSA and some of our other sports medicine physicians.”
The goal before and during the game is to reduce the risk of injury.
“There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. One of us is essentially always on call or present to help with any situation,” said Dr. Bartush. “With basketball, we typically see ankle sprains, dislocated fingers, knee injuries and anything facial such as an eye injury.”
Dr. Bartush and Dr. Kenneth-Nwosa, who is also the head team physician for UTSA Athletics and an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at UT Health San Antonio, said treating athletes courtside can be daunting.
“You have to pay attention to see how the injury occurred and access the athlete as they’re on the court coming to you,” Dr. Bartush explained. “We treat the athletes on the spot and do an exam in a split second with no imaging or background. You’re integrating all of your clinical skills in one setting and going on the fly.”
Either way, they said, it was a memorable experience they won’t soon forget.
“We’ve done multiple tournaments in the past. To be on the sidelines is incredible,” Dr. Kenneth-Nwosa said. “We can relate to the players and we’re giving back to the sport. It’s gratifying and we’re proud to represent our city on a national level."