First Sports Med Fellowship Established

Pittsburgh, September 12, 2019 -- In what is considered the first such program of its kind in the nation, the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery has created a three-month sports medicine fellowship for residents. Fifth-year resident Enyinna Nwachuku, MD, will serve the first fellowship that will include rotations with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and other area sports programs.

Sports medicine and brain and spine injury expert Vincent Miele, MD, clinical associate professor of neurological surgery, was the driving force in establishing the fellowship with input from renown health and sports medicine expert Joseph Maroon, MD, Heindl Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh and long-time team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fifth-year resident Nima Alan, MD, also played a critical role in the development of the program.

“Because of the Department of Neurological Surgery’s close connection to sports and the area’s teams and athletes—our department currently has five faculty with direct involvement in professional sports teams in the city—the opportunity to develop a fellowship in sports neurosurgery was a perfect fit and the next logical step in training and care,” Dr. Miele said.

“This fellowship will provide an excellent opportunity for interested residents to spend a dedicated period of their training with neurosurgeons that subspecialize in sports and would be the first such program nationally. Residents would also have the opportunity to rotate with other specialties such as neuropsychology, orthopedics, and athletic training. These rotations would allow the participant to experience how these specialties approach mutual pathologies that we treat as a team. 

“For over a century, neurological surgeons have been involved in the medical management of athletes. This includes the direct treatment of injuries to the brain, spine and spinal column, and peripheral nerves. Our specialty, unlike any other, has the ability to address pathology in all of these areas.

“The City of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh has been the epicenter of much of this marriage of neurosurgery and sports. From the development of modern neuropsychological testing to the first diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, our institution’s physicians have led the way.”

Dr. Miele and Daniel Wecht, MD, are the fellowship’s directors, and Dr. Maroon will provide funds for research, a mandatory part of the fellowship