SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — On Super Bowl Sunday, it’s not just the Carolina Panthers or Denver Broncos who will show jaw-dropping skills, incredible strength and super human speed.
A third highly trained team is waiting on the sidelines. The difference: they hope that they are never needed.
On game day, it’s bound to get physical – fast. Just ask the players.
“We’re here for business, ” explained Carolina Panthers Linebacker Shaq Thompson
“I’m looking forward to hitting everybody on the Panthers,” laughed Denver Broncos Safety T.J. Ward.
In football, a hit on the field can produce a lot of hurt to the human body: The average-sized defense back at full speed can tackle with the force of a ton of bricks.
That’s why at Super Bowl 50 – a third team – a medical team – will be watching and ready.
“We have it all here with the most advanced technology available,” explained Dr. Tim McAdams, head team physician for the San Francisco 49ers and an orthopedic surgeon at Stanford Medical Center.
The Panthers and Broncos will bring their own team doctors and medical staff to the game.
But Levi’s Stadium will also be manned with more than 40 medical health care professionals including emergency room specialists, paramedics, radiologists, certified athletic trainers and neuro-trauma experts.
A huge plus for these professionals: The stadium’s new medical technology
“The new Levi Stadium is phenomenal.” marveled Dr. Mitch Berger, who is chief of neurosurgery at UCSF Health.
He is also a member of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee.
At Levi’s Stadium , with a suspected injury, the medical teams get to use a top-of-the-line wireless digital imaging system.
“Let’s face it, I can see better on a computer monitor than on a hard copy plain film,” McAdams said.
Digital X-rays are taken and then streamed directly into a team’s training room — as well as to the electronic tablets handled by the team doctors on the sidelines. The images are taken in the same room, but streamed on a private channel to the individual teams.
“The Denver Broncos will be able to see just their images and the Carolina Panthers will see just theirs,” explained Eric Albert.
Albert, the manager of Outpatient Imaging at Stanford University Hospital and Clinics, explained how Stanford radiologists and physicians recommended this system to Levi’s Stadium. It uses cassettes instead of film.
“As opposed to old film where it took 90 seconds to process, this takes approximately 12 seconds and almost instantaneous,” said Albert.
The enhanced speed with better imaging can help team doctors more quickly assess an injury.
“They want to know is that person ready to go back in,” said McAdams, who along with a colleague will be on hand to help the Panthers and Broncos medical teams.
“We’ll be the liaison for managing any imaging needs, any types of medication needs since we’re licensed in the state,” said McAdams.
Also present on the field, two unaffiliated neuro-trauma consultants from UCSF including, Dr. Berger. This position is unaffiliated with either of the teams playing.
Berger explains that they will be watching for concussions
“It’s very important not only to see the play at eye level with the player, but to also hear the action and to hear the hits,” he said.
The medical teams will also get a big assist from CBS Sports which is providing an unprecedented view of the game — the network has mounted 36 extremely high resolution cameras around the rim of the stadium.
The system can freeze and revolve around any play, any hit for an instant replay
“Our production people are here picking the best shots,” exclaimed Ken Aagaard, who runs CBS Sports Operations and Engineering for the Network.
A special NFL concussion spotter known as the ATC Spotter or the Eye in the Sky is also positioned up high in the press box.
This ATC Spotter will have access to all the CBS camera feeds and in the case of a suspected injury, he can send instant replays down to the medical teams on the sidelines. The teams can then can view any suspected injury on the video replay monitor and better evaluate the injury.