The University of South Carolina has opened a new Sports Medicine Center in Columbia. The new facility has a concussion testing center, and also features special extremity MRI.
The school opened the center in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.
The extremity magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, the first of its kind in South Carolina, is meant to keep patients more comfortable while providing higher-quality images for physicians diagnosing a soft-tissue injury.
Unlike a traditional full-body MRI system, which can require patients lay motionless in an enclosed tube for up to an hour or more, the extremity MRI only scans a person’s arm or leg. The patient sits in a padded chair beside the scanner and slides the necessary joint— an elbow, wrist, hand, knee, foot or ankle — into the device.
“This is really situation where it’s a true win-win environment,” said Dr. John Walsh, chairman of the school’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, “The patients enjoy it. It’s easier and more comfortable… and the image quality that we get is really excellent.”
During the scan, patients can tilt the chair back, read a book and enjoy the mobility not offered to them in a traditional full-body scan. Walsh says it’s the most powerful scanner of its kind in South Carolina.
The new facility is located at the University Specialty Clinics, near Palmetto Health Richland hospital in downtown Columbia. It is an expansion of the existing sports medicine facility on site.
Walsh said the new facility was paid for by clinical revenues and did not require any tuition or state money. “As our outreach expands throughout central South Carolina, and really across the state, we needed larger facilities and availability for that kind of specialized testing here in-house.”
While the Sports Medicine Center is meant for athletes, Walsh said anyone in the public can undergo tests there. Any other area physician can also schedule MRI studies at the facility.