A provider at the clinic with diagrams in the background.

GVSU Injury Care Clinic adds virtual appointments to its services

The Grand Valley Injury Care Clinic has opened and is offering both in-person and for the first time, virtual appointments for students, faculty and staff.

While virtual appointments are useful during the pandemic, they also signal further growth for the clinic that has expanded in scope from its original intent of offering athletic training to students playing club or intramural sports to treating injuries for anyone in the campus community.

"We are glad to have the opportunity to help patients either in person or virtually, especially with the pandemic and different comfort levels and accessibility for patients," said Amy Campbell, associate director of Recreation and Wellness who helps lead the clinic. "With these virtual connections we can really provide services to many people, anywhere."

The clinic is a collaboration among Recreation and Wellness, the Movement Science Department and Metro Health. It offers free services that include injury evaluation and prevention, stretching techniques, acute injury care and, if necessary, a professional referral to another medical provider.

Franki White, sports medicine coordinator with Metro Health, does a virtual exam for Grand Valley State University’s Injury Care Clinic.
Franki White, sports medicine coordinator with Metro Health, does a virtual exam for Grand Valley State University’s Injury Care Clinic. The clinic is located in the Fieldhouse.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

As for conducting an injury evaluation virtually, a patient's injury history -- when did the problem start, what activities produce pain -- provides crucial insight for treatment options or referral, no matter the format of the appointment, said Shari Bartz-Smith, associate professor and athletic training program director. Those in the clinic can also draw information over a screen by observing such factors as a patient's posture.

While the clinic initially focused on providing athletic training services to the athletes in GVSU's robust club sports and intramural programs who didn't have the same access to such help as varsity athletes did, its potential benefit to the entire campus community became apparent, Shari Bartz-Smith said.

It wasn't unusual for a student in Bartz-Smith's class to ask her about a twisted ankle. That got her, Campbell and others to also think about how anyone on campus dealing with a tender knee, a sore back or a stiff shoulder could benefit from an evaluation at the clinic. It doesn't matter how patients sustained the injury -- it could be anything from lifting weights to stepping awkwardly off a curb.

"The more we examined this and got it up and running, we realized this is such a good addition to the health center on campus," Bartz-Smith said. "If you're walking across campus and you twist your ankle or you fall down in a living center, the Injury Care Clinic is a great place to get your injury evaluated.

"There are so many times when people with an injury don't know if they should see the doctor, so they just want someone who is knowledgable to look at it and find out: Do I need to go to a doctor or is it something I can work on at home?"

A virtual exam.
Virtual exams, offered for the first time, will give patients more flexibility when seeking services.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills
An in-person exam at the clinic.
Franki White, sports medicine coordinator with Metro Health, left, examines Grand Valley State University student, Kaitlyn Koster, right, after she checked into GVSU's Injury Care Clinic.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills
An ankle is taped.
Taping is one of the services offered at the Injury Care Clinic.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

Problems with knees, ankles, backs, hips and shoulders are the most common complaints, Campbell said, adding that last year there also seemed to be an uptick in concussions.

Another trend emerging recently is the number of performing arts students seeking evaluations. Campbell said treating those injuries has in turn been a learning tool for those providing services at the clinic, allowing them to understand the unique demands those disciplines put on the body. 

Other services include renting medical equipment such as crutches at an affordable price, Campbell said, adding the clinic team want to ensure students, especially, know about this option on campus.


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