When I graduated from medical school in 1977, sports medicine did not really exist as a career. There were a couple of prominent sports medicine docs around in Olympic teams but they were trained in rheumatology (Brian Corrigan) or orthopaedics (Howard Toyne).
After 18 months hospital work in Melbourne I headed over to the UK to “practice on the Poms”. This involved initially an orthopaedic job in Kingston-on-Thames in the south west of London. My first exposure to sports medicine was a half day seminar held at Kingston prior to a rugby international at Twickenham which was just down the road. At that seminar I met Peter Sperryn then secretary and driving force behind BASM and co-author of the then sports medicine bible, Sperryn and Williams. He told me about a BASM one week introductory course to be held at Loughborough and I subsequently attended that.
On returning to Melbourne in 1982 I undertook the combined RACGP/ASMF sports medicine course in 1983. This involved one afternoon a week and was an excellent course. It was there I first came across Dr Fred Better who was to be a major influence and supporter of my sports medicine career. Sadly Fred passed away some years ago, but I was honored to give the eulogy at his funeral and initiate the annual FC Better lecture at Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre.
Two significant things happened in the years after that that changed my life and led to the development of sports medicine as a medical specialty in Australia. In 1985 a meeting was held to form the Australian College of Sports Physicians, and in 1986 the Victorian Government invited tenders to open a sports medicine clinic at Olympic Park.
In 1986 the Olympic Park Trust called for tenders for a sports medicine centre to be established on the ground floor of the Administration building in the Olympic Park complex. At that time Olympic Park consisted of an athletics track, a greyhound stadium, and the former Olympic pool then known as the Glasshouse which was used for basketball.
At that time the Australian Sports Medicine Federation (ASMF now SMA) was running a sports medicine clinic at the City Baths in Swanston Street.
The clinic was in financial difficulty so a group of us (Peter Brukner, Fred Better, Peter Harcourt) proposed to ASMF that we would tender for the Olympic Park site then privatise the City Baths clinic and move the practice there.
We were successful in our tender and the clinic opened in February 2007 with ASMF retaining a 10% share in the clinic. The other shareholders included myself, Peter Harcourt, Fred Better and the physiotherapist from the City Baths Mary Kinch who became our first full time practitioner. The Clinic was initially staffed by a number of part time doctors, Mary Kinch and Clive Lipinski (physios), Nick Massaro (massage), Karen Inge (dietitian) and Clare Harding (admin). The clinic grew rapidly and I gave up my general practice in McKinnon and commenced fulltime as Director of the clinic in July 1987.
Some of the doctors in the early years of OPSMC were Fred Better, Chris Bradshaw, Karim Khan, Sue White, Paul Blackman, Andrew Jowett, Karen Holzer, Tim Barbour, Bruce Mitchell and Paul McCrory.
OPSMC has played a major role in training sports physicians on the Australasian College of Sports Physicians training program. Among the registrars who have trained at OPSMC are John Orchard, Sue White, Paul Blackman, Andrew Jowett, Peter Baquie, Greg Hickey, Karen Holzer, Tim Barbour, Bruce Mitchell, Leesa Huguenin, Lorenzo Masci, Greg Harris, Tony Page, Michael Makdissi, Adam Castricum, Neels du Toit, Lari Trease, Drew Slimmon and Ruben Branson
Physios included Mary Kinch, Kay Crossley, Paul Coburn, Craig Bosworth, Henry Wajswelner, Ian MacIndoe, Simon Boag, Dave Sagar, Gary Nicholls, Tony Ward and Anthony Schache.
Massage has always been a very successful part of OPSMC and we have had a large number of massage therapists over the years. Masseurs include Nick Massaro, Rob Granter, Leigh Baker, Gerhard Hechenberger, Anne Davies, Narelle Davis, Jo Yeoman-Hare, Maria di Michelle, Lily Chiu, Pablo Tymoszuk, Clare Burrows and Rosalie McLeish
Karen Inge was our first dietitian and she was followed by Lorna Garden, Susie Parker, Kylie Andrew, Emma Rippon and Katherine Shone
Jason Agosta joined us as our first podiatrist in 1989 and was subsequently joined by Kathy Harding (van Kuyk), Bec Morarty, Sally Child, Nicki Quigley, James Pope and Ben Holland
Sports psychology has been largely carried over the years by Anthony Klarica and Jacqui Louder
We have always had a heavy emphasis on research and OPSMC has made a significant contribution to sports medicine in that area. Some of the areas of research have been:
Stress fractures (Karim Khan, Peter Brukner, Kim Bennell)
Injury survey (Peter Baquie)
Compartment syndrome (Paul Blackman, Larissa Trease, Drew Slimmon))
Exercise – induced asthma (Karen Holzer)
Anterior knee pain (Kay Crossley)
Concussion (Paul McCrory & Michael Makdissi)
Biomechanics (Anthony Schache)
Knee rehab (Randall Cooper)
Dry needling (Leesa Huguenin)
Teaching has always been a prominent part of life at OPSMC. We have run
FC Better Lecture
Soft Tissue Injury Forum (STIF)
The OPSMC Careers Night has been going for 20 years now and always attracts a large crowd of secondary school students and their parents
OPSMC has been at its Olympic Park site now for 15 years. In 1997 we opened another clinic at Albert Park.
This site closed in 2006 and we opened our East Melbourne campus adjacent to the Mercy Hospital in 2007
With the building of the new rectangular stadium now known as AAMI Park at the Olympic Park precinct in 2009, the “white” building which had been the home to OPSMC for 20 years had to be demolished and arrangements were made for OPSMC to move to the new stadium.
OPSMC has always had a strong commitment to servicing elite sporting teams. Soon after we commenced in1987 we entered into a contract with Melbourne Football Club to provide all their medical and physiotherapy services. This was the first time that a multidisciplinary clinic had a contract with a football club, previously it had just been individuals with contracts. Melbourne who had not played finals football for 23 years prior to1987 then embarked on a successful periods, famously losing the 1987 Preliminary Final when Jummy Stynes gave away a 50 metre penalty, and then playing in a losing Grand Final in 1988.
We looked after Melbourne for four seasons.
Our AFL contracts have been
Richmond 1992 – present
Collingwood 1996 – present
Hawthorn 2004 – present
Plus our doctors are currently working at Geelong and St Kilda.
For a number of years our first AFL premiership involvement proved elusive with a number of heart breaking grand final losses.
Then Chris Bradshaw finally cracked it in as club doctor for the 2007 Geelong premiership
To be followed by our first contracted club Hawthorn in 2008
Then Bradshaw again with Geelong in 2009
Followed by Collingwood in 2010 defeating Tim Barbour’s Saints
And Geelong again in 2011 defeating Collingwood
So the OPSMC drought is well and truly broken
Our practitioners have always been encouraged to become involved with national teams and major championships. National teams staffed by OPSMC practitioners include:
Athletics, Basketball, Swimming, Softball, Baseball, Soccer, Hockey, Rowing, Cycling, Netball, Skiing, Gymnastics
Major games attended by OPSMC staff with national teams include:
Australian/World University Games
Not surprisingly we had a huge involvement in the 2000 Sydney Olympics
A number of our practitioners ran with the Olympic torch