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Week of 1 April 2005· Vol. VIII, No. 25
Special Edition: Fitness and Recreation Center

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Ryan Center: sports medicine, rehabilitation, and other health programs all in one setting

By Brian Fitzgerald

Bill Pesanelli, director of the Sargent College Clinical Centers, next to the SwimEx aquatherapy pool at the Ryan Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Photo by Vernon Doucette


Bill Pesanelli, director of the Sargent College Clinical Centers, next to the SwimEx aquatherapy pool at the Ryan Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Photo by Vernon Doucette

For Bill Pesanelli, director of the Sargent College Clinical Centers, the new Ryan Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation is a dream come true.

For those rebounding from an injury, the Ryan Center, which opens later this spring, means relief and recovery.

“This is a milestone in the evolution of the Sargent College Clinical Centers,” says Pesanelli. “The Physical Therapy Center, for example, has become a leader in the region in the provision of orthopedic and sports injury rehabilitation. By bringing together under one roof the services offered by Sargent College, along with our sister organization, the orthopedics department at Boston Medical Center, we will be able to provide a single destination for those who have been injured or have conditions of the musculoskeletal system.”

Staffed by health-care and exercise professionals, the 4,500-square-foot Ryan Center will offer patients and clients a full continuum of care. The programming will include:

  • Orthopedics and sports medicine: Streamlined patient care with onsite diagnostic testing and treatment by board-certified physicians, including BU varsity team physicians Anthony Schepsis and Timothy Foster, both MED assistant professors.
  • Physical therapy: Patients will benefit from advanced treatment techniques from experienced clinicians. The facility’s resources include a recessed therapeutic pool. “We will be one of the only facilities in the city to provide aquatherapy with a SwimEx pool,” says Pesanelli. “Someone with a weight-bearing restriction on a leg joint can continue to train in the pool, using the buoyancy of water to avoid putting stress on muscles, joints, and bones.”
  • Postrehabilitation training and injury prevention: Both rehabilitation and exercise specialists will help patients maintain the gains they have made during rehabilitation and return them to their normal state of activity. Individual and group injury prevention programs will be offered in specialized areas, such as the back and lower body.
  • The Athletic Enhancement Center: The center will provide advanced strength-and-conditioning programs for more than 300 competitive athletes throughout the Boston area. This integrated approach includes strength and conditioning, sports psychology, and sports medicine. Special center programs have attracted national attention, including an article in Newsweek magazine on Women’s Jump Training, designed to prevent knee injuries.
  • Nutrition programs: Programming will be offered at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. For beginners, counseling will focus on realistic lifestyle modifications. Advanced programming will be geared toward competitive athletes striving for peak performance.

Pesanelli says that the Ryan Center, named after donor and BU trustee Sharon Ryan (SAR’70) and her husband, Robert, is the result of the vision of former SAR Dean Alan Jette and several administrators, including Joseph Mercurio, executive vice president, and Richard Towle, senior vice president. “They felt that this facility would serve to not only showcase the excellent medical services offered by Sargent College,” Pesanelli says, “but also provide a valuable service to the University population.”

As an example of the exceptional care that will be available at the Ryan Center, he points out that it will be one of the only facilities in greater Boston to offer cold laser therapy, which involves the application of low-power light to stimulate healing. “Cold laser therapy can be more effective than traditional methods, such as ultrasound, to treat tendonitis,” he says.

Pesanelli also sees advantages to the Ryan Center being in the same building with the department of physical education, recreation, and dance (PERD). “When we have a patient who has been injured, and she is serious about remaining injury-free after her physical therapy, we can transition her into a PERD program,” he says. “We can introduce non-gym-goers to a weight-training class. We’re also working with PERD on nutrition initiatives to address particular health problems, as well as facilitate lifestyle changes. We’ll be promoting the overall health of the entire campus.”

As the reputation of the Ryan Center grows, Pesanelli predicts, the clinics’ popularity will further support the academic missions of Sargent College and MED’s orthopedics department. “As we flourish,” he says, “there will be more academic and clinical opportunities for medical and Sargent College students here.”

“In the future, we hope to have a clinical residency program in orthopedic physical therapy at Sargent College,” says SAR Dean Gloria Waters. “The Ryan Center would play a vital role in that initiative. It’s also going to attract more students to our college.”

The Ryan Center will also have a separate patient entrance, as well as an internal connection to the rest of the Fitness and Recreation Center.

“We will be able to take patients from injury to rehabilitation to reconditioning to full activity,” says Pesanelli. “I hate to use a cliché, but this will really be a one-stop shop.”



1 April 2005
Boston University
Office of University Relations