Alex Diamond, DO, MPH, FAAP, FAMSSM, associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Pediatrics and Neurological Surgery at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt; director, Vanderbilt Youth Sports Health Center; and team physician: Vanderbilt University and Nashville Predators
Q: Monroe Carell recently opened the Youth Sports Health Center. Tell us more about this endeavor.
A: The Center is an opportunity to provide comprehensive, collaborative and innovative care for the child and adolescent athlete at all levels (recreational and competitive) and is the only one of its kind in the region. Through a partnership between Vanderbilt Sports Medicine and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Center brings together the same specialists who care for our elite sports teams like the Predators, Sounds, Nashville SC, Vanderbilt athletics and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association with nationally and internationally recognized care teams from the No. 1 children’s hospital in Tennessee and the Southeast. This allows us to offer a holistic approach to care for and to help the young athlete compete at their best.
Q: How did this Center come about?
A: I’ve had this vision for a very long time. For most of my career, I’ve focused on societal-level sports-related population health issues and community-based interventions that impact current and future generations of children when it comes to their physical, mental and social-emotional well-being. We have amazing people here at Vanderbilt. I’m so impressed every day by the knowledge, skill and level of caring by my partners, colleagues and staff across the Medical Center. I love collaboration. There is tremendous power as to what can be accomplished when we harness all of that into one room looking at the same problems together but with different vantage points. I believe Vanderbilt is uniquely situated for this Center because it is so naturally collaborative, and when you combine that with our academic foundation, research curiosity and evidence-based clinical expertise, we are going to be able to develop treatment pathways, diagnostic evaluation and an overall health and wellness model that is better for patients and their families.
Q: Why is this level of care needed?
A: Sports matter to kids, and sports also matter for kids. We know that sports offer a pathway for children to engage in physical activity. We know that physical activity affects morbidity, mortality and quality of life. When children are physically active, they do better in school, work and multiple health measures. Kids who are physically active tend to become adults who are also physically active. Sports are a stepping block to healthier lifestyles, and I believe, are a fundamental part of child development. When you think about the child and teen athlete, you have to think about the whole kid. We have created a Center that focuses on physical, mental and social health. Establishing a comprehensive approach to care is key to providing the most advanced, personalized care possible. We are here to serve all children who want to be physically fit and active through sports at all athletic levels — elite, high school, club-level or recreational. We also want to engage in community advocacy work to help impact the future health and safety of young athletes.
Q: How will the Center work?
A: We have physicians and surgeons from more than 25 different specialties represented in the Youth Sports Health Center. All team members involved understand the special needs of athletes whether the injury or illness is a result of sports involvement or an underlying condition. The Center is geared toward treating the pediatric and adolescent school-aged athlete. There will be multiple access points for convenience for families and referring providers.
Q: What are your expectations for the Center?
A: My goal for our Center is to continue to improve the lives of children and teens along with their families not only here in Middle Tennessee but across the Southeast and the country. We want to be on the forefront of innovation while upholding our commitment to our local community, but also create societal-level change to implement policies that make sports safer, healthier and as injury-free as possible. Patient care, education, research and advocacy are at the center of what we do.
For more information about the Center, visit the website at: childrenshospitalvanderbilt.org/yshc