KICKOFF! HSS and IMG Academy begin collaboration with the NFL Combine Training Program

1.17 Blog

On December 29th, HSS and IMG Performance began an exciting, new partnership that commenced with on-site sports physical therapy services. Rob DiGiacomo, Director of the HSS Sports Rehabilitation and Sports Performance program, oversees the HSS rehabilitation operations at IMG Academy.

While most of the country was enduring an unprecedented deep freeze, the activity at IMG Academy (IMGA) was getting heated up with the arrival of top-level former collegiate football players with their intent on training for the upcoming NFL Combine in February.  The new HSS-IMGA Sports physical therapy team, consisting of physical therapists Jorge Giral and Matt Morgan, joined HSS physical therapist Peter Draovitch to provide thorough musculoskeletal and functional assessments of these elite athletes.  These objective analyses formed the foundation of the player’s training program by identifying key areas of weakness and potential injury that need to be addressed during their 4-6 week stay.  Our PT team would then interface with a world-class multidisciplinary team of athletic trainers, strength and speed training specialists, position coaches, and many others to come up with the most effective success plan for these athletes.

The NFL Combine Training program is one of many at IMGA programs that highlight the importance of the new partnership between HSS and IMG Performance.  HSS is an internationally recognized leader in the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of the injured athlete. IMGA is a world leader in maximizing athletic potential through their physical and mental performance training programs. The alignment of these two organizations offers athletes a complete experience at a magnificent 450-acre facility in Bradenton, Florida. The proud academic grounding that both institutions embrace will yield co-branded education programs and clinical research around such important topics as optimal return to sports following injury, identifying factors that pre-dispose to athletic injury, and maximizing athletic performance.

Image OneHSS clinicians and physicians will have the opportunity to share expertise with our IMGA colleagues in treating other elite athletes of the NFL, MLB, NBA, MLS, NCAA, and Olympic/Para Olympic athletes from around the world. In addition, HSS’ extensive experience with the young athlete is critical with care delivery to IMGA’s 900+ on-site boarding school and the perpetual camp populations that frequent the campus. The bottom line is the HSS-IMGA partnership provides a platform for applying the best medical, surgical, and rehabilitation practices with the best performance and athletic development practices on the field with some of the world’s established and emerging elite athletes.

The weather may be cold, but the future for the HSS-IMGA partnership and the benefits to athletes of all ages is red hot.

Robert DiGiacomo, Doctor of Physical Therapy and NATA Certified Athletic Trainer, is the Director of the James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Rob provides oversight of all sports rehabilitation and performance based programs at HSS, and will also be providing operational oversight of sports rehabilitation services for HSS at IMG Academy. He served as an isokinetic testing assessor for the 2008 NFL Combine, medical co-chairman for the 2002 and 2012 JCC Maccabi Games – Philadelphia venue, athletic training services coordinator for the 2005 Philadelphia Women’s Triathlon, and medical staff of the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York City Marathons.

Topics: Performance
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


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  1. I was diagnosed with SLE in 2003. Over the past few years my lupus has progressed and caused damage to my digestive system and heart along other things. I had to go on chemo and a lot of prednisone. A year and a half ago I lost my ability to walk completely. I had a muscle and nerve biopsy done and it showed that I had large amounts of prednisone in my system and that’s what damaged my muscles and nerves in my legs. I was in a wheelchair for several months and with rehab and therapy I went from the wheelchair to a walker to now I can walk with leg braces. This is going to be permanent. Right now I’m very sick with a bad lupus flare and they want to try the prednisone again but I won’t let them in fear I will have a relapse and start back to square 1. Do I have other Choices?

    1. Hi Kelli, thank you for reaching out. Dr. Michael Lockshin, Rheumatologist, says: “I am sorry to hear that. I am guessing that ‘large amounts of prednisone in my system’ means steroid myopathy, or weak muscles due to steroids. Prednisone does not damage the nerves, so if nerve damage was a problem, it was more likely due to lupus. Prednisone is the fastest acting and most reliable of treatments for flares, but there are many other options. You do not say what your chemotherapy was. For patients in similar situations here, we would consider use of cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate, azathioprine, tacrolimus, and sometimes methotrexate and leflunomide and other medications. Benlysta is also an important option; although not approved for use in lupus, rituximab is also an option. Bottom line, many options, but the choice will depend on what you have had before, what side effects occur, and what your kidneys and bone marrow are like at this time.” If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.