Dr. Dunne and USA Hockey

August 02, 2017

Dr. Laura M. Dunne of OAA’s Sports Medicine Institute recently came back from her yearly involvement with Dr. Laura Dunne, Sports Medicine InstituteUSA Hockey’s Sled Hockey Camp in Buffalo, NY. For the past 10 years, Dr. Dunne has served as the team physician for USA Hockey’s Sled Hockey Camp. The team is coached by current gold medal winning Paralympians as well as other USA Hockey officials. The goal of this yearly developmental camp is to ultimately form the next set of Paralympians. After being involved for ten years, Dr. Dunne has seen the level of play improve significantly as sled hockey increases in popularity and competitiveness.  
About Sled Hockey
Sled hockey, also known as sledge hockey, is a variation of ice hockey that was designed to allow participants that have a physical disability to enjoy the sport of hockey. Invented in 1960, sled hockey follows most ice hockey rules, but with modified equipment. Players sit in specially designed sleds that sit on top of two hockey skate blades. Two sticks are used by each player, and the sticks have metal picks to allow players to propel themselves. Sled hockey provides opportunities for many types of disabilities and is one of the most popular events in the Winter Paralympic Games – the next set of Paralympians will take part in the Winter Paralympic Games in 2018 in South Korea.
Q & A with Dr. Dunne:
What kind of injuries do you typically treat at development camp?
“Every year brings new medical issues, but typical injuries range from rotator cuff tendinitis, to the never-ending skin injuries. Cuts from picks and hand blisters from the sticks and wheelchairs are very common. This year was dominated by the need for my family medicine skills as opposed to my sports medicine background. A lot of players had bouts with gastroenteritis during this year’s camp, but we were able to make sure they were all hydrated and in shape for trial for the national team.”
How did this year differ from past years?
“I continued to build upon the intake visits that I began last year. The intake visits allowed me to get to know the athletes and their unique disability before the action started and they needed medical attention. The intake visits include basic health history, and this year I added a workout history to see what each athlete was doing to prepare and stay in shape. There were those that trained hockey and just hockey and those that recently completed a triathlon or a Warrior Dash – so much variety! Like in my practice at OAA, having an understanding of the athletes’ health and workout histories allow me to provide better care.”
“As far as the difference in the camp, as each year passes, the athletes get better. After ten years, the current skill level has progressed immensely and it is truly amazing to watch. I used to be around just in case they needed me. Now, I am on the bench during the entire game because the medical coverage requires that level of attention.”

Why do you enjoy being involved with USA Hockey?
“The opportunity to watch and help the best athletes in their sport! It is such a privilege to be a part of. These athletes are literally the best in the world, and it takes a lot to get there and even more to stay there. It’s also great to see involvement from the national hockey players and coaches at the camp. I could really go on and on, but to sit in the USA Hockey pride lecture and hear stories and motivation from players that have already won gold medals, or to see players who lost a limb serving our country now serving in a different capacity… it just can’t be put into words. The smiles, the hard work, the pranks, the friendship, the teamwork; this and so much more makes it a great experience that I am honored to be a part of.”

Dr. Dunne is a primary care sports medicine physician working at OAA Orthopaedic Specialists since 2003. An athlete herself, Dr. Dunne enjoys promoting healthier lifestyles, providing injury prevention tips, and caring for athletes and patients of all skill levels and abilities.  Dr. Dunne looks forward to her continued involvement with USA Hockey in the future.

Interested in seeing more photos from camp? Watch this: YouTube video