OHSU Physician Gives His Time for Young Athletes

01/23/02    Portland, Ore.

Joe Bozikovich, 16, sat hunched over in his chair next to his mother. He looked like an athlete forced to sit on the sidelines during a game.

Kimberly Chacaj, 16, walked around the waiting area at rebound, an orthopaedics and sports medicine clinic at the Rose Garden complex.

The two teens were waiting for appointments with Jim Chesnutt, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine and board certified in sports medicine. Joe had an elbow injury. Kimberly needed a sports physical.

Chesnutt, a family practice physician at OHSU Family Health Center at Gabriel Park, volunteers at the rebound clinic every Wednesday afternoon. School of Medicine students also perform part of the family practice rotations at the clinic. Chesnutt also volunteers as team physician for the Wilson High School sports teams and attends all of their home football games.

Many of the students he sees every week at the clinic have inadequate or no health insurance. They come to be checked for sports injuries, to get their required sports physical so they can play on a team, or for second opinions regarding an injury. The rebound clinic sponsors this sports injury clinic, making it possible to provide the evaluation and any needed x-rays and casting for a reduced cost to the students.

The students Chesnutt sees are mostly from northeast Portland high schools such as Jefferson, Benson Madison and Roosevelt.

"I wanted to make sure that student athletes on the northeast side of town had access to physicians for their needs," he said. "There are few, if any, physicians or trainers to help out in these schools."

Kimberly, a sophomore at Benson High School said she heard about this clinic at school." I need a physical because I'm getting ready for basketball tryouts. I don't know if I'll make the team, but I thought I would try," she said.

At 6 feet 2 inches tall, 260 pounds, Joe plays defensive tackle on the Wilson High's varsity team as a sophomore. Chesnutt diagnosed his elbow injury as a possible torn ligament and referred him for an MRI and special bracing.

"I would have played this Friday if it hadn't been for Dr. Chesnutt. From what I've been told, there would have been a good chance I could have torn it even more if not dislocated it," Joe said.

His mother, Sheila Bozikovich, was thankful for Chesnutt's expertise. Her son has dreams of playing college football and doesn't want to be seriously injured while still in high school.

"If they love the game enough, they'll play through it, injured or not. It's guys like Dr. Chesnutt that make them sit it out," she said.

Chesnutt said he believes that helping these young athletes is important. He played basketball, soccer, baseball, and ran track and cross country in high school.

"For a lot of these kids, playing sports is the one thing that's keeping them in school. We need to make sure these athletes are healthy," he said.

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