Doctor brings knowledge of injuries to larger student population
By Rebekah Friedman
Dr. Jason Stacy is right at home as Student Health Services director for sports medicine and physical therapy.
He started working full-time at the Thomson Student Health Center after 10 years as team physician for Gamecock athletes. His stint as team physician also included one day a week at the health center seeing injured students.
With Stacy full-time and able to treat more patients, the health center saw a 69 percent increase in the number of visits for the sports medicine department this past school year compared with the year before.
“I’ve seen a number of people these last couple weeks doing more walking than what they’re used to and developing pain in different places,” Stacy says. “It doesn’t have to be a sports-related thing. It could be an overuse injury. Sports medicine is not just for athletes.”
Students seeking help for a sprained ankle, can see memorabilia from his time caring for the University of South Carolina’s top football, basketball and baseball players. But Stacy thinks the mementos put students at ease.
“They see the stuff I have in my office,” he says, “And that gives me a little bit more credibility that I used to take care of the athletes. I say, ‘You know, look at that picture, those basketball players are all wearing an ankle brace like I’m giving you.’ ”
A native of Wisconsin, Stacy didn’t grow up cheering for the Gamecocks. But working one-on-one with the school’s athletes helped him develop a different kind of loyalty.
“You want them to succeed almost like they’re part of your family, because you see them as people,” Stacy says. “You know that they’re trying, you know that they’re doing their best. They’re your patients and you care about them personally as much as you do the outcome of the game.”
Switching from basketball players to English majors full-time means Stacy can offer students more than a once-a-week visit.
“It’s nice having some continuity and being able to see somebody today and have them come back tomorrow if they need to, or the next day, and not having to say come back next week,” Stacy says.
His new job also includes supervising the athletic training graduate assistant in the health center. Jessica Koller, who served as the graduate assistant for 2013-14, said Stacy’s guidance was an invaluable part of her experience.
“I learned so much from Dr. Stacy in the one year I worked with him,” said Koller. “I learned more about athletic and nonathletic injuries, different treatment options and evaluation techniques. Also, my ability to educate patients has improved a lot because Dr. Stacy was very good at interacting with the students and teaching them about their injuries.”
Stacy says the increase in patients coming to the health center – 2,114 total visits in 2013-14 – was not completely unexpected.
“If you’re a young person, why do you go to the doctor?” he asks. “Either you’re sick or you’re hurt. I get the hurt ones. I think there’s a big need for it.”
When students do get hurt, Stacy says the college lifestyle often serves as motivation for recovery. “They want to get better,” he says. “They’re interested in being active.”
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