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Photo provided by MERCY
Photo provided by MERCY

Five Questions: Dr. Bernard Griesemer

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The American Academy of Pediatrics recently honored Dr. Bernard Griesemer, director of Mercy Sports Medicine at Health Tracks, with the Thomas E. Shaffer, M.D. Award for his cumulative contributions to the field of pediatric sports medicine. Active in a number of local and national organizations focused on children’s health, Griesemer has witnessed and participated in many of changes in the sports medicine field. A four-time Olympic doping control officer. Griesemer also helped kick-start Springfield’s Community Olympic Development Program, now serving as its board chairman.

National recognition
“The Academy of Pediatrics actually flew me up for the meeting, and the award was presented at the annual sports medicine meeting, which is part of the national Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Boston. It was (exciting) because I was the program director for that meeting for several years. ... I was one of the pediatricians who merged (the academy’s) scientific committee and the section into what is now the Council on Sports Medicine, and it represents all the pediatricians in the U.S. and Canada that are affiliated with or participating in pediatric sports medicine programs.”

Football babies
“Health Tracks … has three components to it. One unit is family medicine. … Our side is three, soon to be four pediatricians, and the front side office is a 15,000-square-foot training center. In pediatrics, we take care of a lot of kids, all the way from babies to the big football-playing babies. When you talk about sports medicine, in some scenarios, that’s basically injury management and muscular-skeleton medicine. But for us, we do a lot of work with concussion management, return to play, heat-related illnesses, sports nutrition – we are sort of the overall package.”

Changing times
“When we were growing up, if you were an eighth-grader and you blew out your knee, that was sort of the end of the road. Nowadays, our young athletes not only expect to come back after surgery, they expect to come back better with less risk of reinjury than before the original injury. … The intensity of sports at the middle school level is similar to what we had at the senior varsity level 20 or 30 years ago.”

Olympic training
“Jodie Adams, Linda Dollar and I were the three that started (the Community Olympic Development Program in Springfield). ... In the CODP program, (Springfield is) sort of a beta site. … For example, there are Olympic training sites in ice hockey and soccer, and those are owned by the national governing bodies such as U.S. Soccer. Their employees may or may not be (U.S. Olympic Committee) employees, but their programs are mainly for Olympic athletes. We are one step below that. Our properties are owned locally, … but the programs are from the United States Olympic Committee.  

Antidoping efforts
“My involvement with the Olympics spans from 1991 to around four or five years ago. My initial connection goes back to doping control. I have done four Olympics: Atlanta, Nagano, Sydney and Salt Lake City. (In Sydney), I had an appointment to the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission as a medical commission representative. ... They deputized about 10 of us, and I was one of two Americans. … After Salt Lake, the International Olympic Committee and the USOC externalized doping control (and) because I have a reporting relationship with USOC, I had to resign.”
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