Catalan group began providing care to Barcelona’s amateur soccer players in 1930

Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes orthopaedic teams deliver care to 124,000 players not otherwise able to have their soccer-related injuries treated.

In Spain, where all levels of soccer players are highly regarded, for the last 80 years the Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes organization has ensured the continuing health of non-professional soccer players throughout Catalunya.

“The mission is to treat soccer players’ injuries and to accompany the player to the safe return to soccer,” Orthopaedics Today Europe Editorial Board member Ramon Cugat, MD, PhD, who has worked with Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes (MCF) since 1965, said.

For decades, Spanish law has mandated that all active, federated Spanish soccer players have health insurance. Realizing that many players and their families may be unable to afford medical insurance covering sports-related injuries, in Catalunya it was offered by the non-profit MCF, established at the same time as the Catalan Football Federation.

Today, MCF is a delegation of the bigger, national Mutualidad de Futbolistas Españoles effort established under the Royal Spanish Football Federation in 1948, according to Cugat.

Pioneering idea

Cugat, of Barcelona, credited those involved in MCF’s early efforts with creating an organization that has remained successful and effective. “It is because of years of commitment, dedication and the vision of all the big names in Catalan orthopaedic surgery that the MCF is able to provide the service it does,” he said.

MCF orthopaedic pioneers include Emilio Moragas, MD, Juan Naves, MD, Joaquin Cabot, MD and Jose Garcia Cugat, MD, among others.

“The idea of creating the MCF at the same time as the Catalan Football Federation is a most pioneering idea, which lasted through the last century and will continue for years to come,” Cugat said.

Gilbert Steinbacher, MD, Ramon Cugat, MD, PhD, and Pedro Alvarez, MD
Performing a surgical procedure on an MCF soccer player the orthopaedic surgeons (left to right) Gilbert Steinbacher, MD, Ramon Cugat, MD, PhD, and Pedro Alvarez, MD.

Images: Cugat R

Treating all injuries

In Catalunya, approximately 124,000 soccer players are eligible for treatment and follow-up care through MCF. Annually they sustain about 17,000 new injuries and undergo about 80,000 rehabilitation sessions and 1,400 surgeries, most of which are arthroscopic.

Barcelona’s MCF reference center comprises four teams involving 14 orthopaedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists with rehabilitation, diagnostic imaging and sonography departments. Cugat’s team includes orthopaedic surgeons Pedro Alvarez, MD, and Gilbert Steinbacher, MD, two sports medicine doctors, and sonography specialists Marta Rius and Juan Manuel Boffa.

“We are doing more ultrasounds for diagnostic reasons,” because ultrasound shows more muscular conditions and is more dynamic than MRI, Steinbacher told Orthopaedics Today Europe.

Knee injuries

With approximately 1,600 clubs playing 4,000 matches in Catalunya on most weekends, reference center teams see a variety of injuries.

“Our requirements are flexible enough to treat all soccer injuries, but we must make sure the injury occurred during the practice of soccer, matches, training, etc.,” Cugat noted.

Injuries to the knee, which are most common, typically involve the ACL and/or the meniscus.

“I think we are lucky because we see a large concentration of very specific sports pathology here,” noted Steinbacher, who has worked with MCF nearly 7 years.

One advantage for MCF physicians is the opportunity to follow some athletes throughout their careers, sometimes until they become professional soccer players. Another is the chance to become experts at managing certain soccer injuries or to become knowledgeable about and skilled at treating such pathologies as osteochondritis of the talus that others rarely see, according to Steinbacher.

MCF medical and physiotherapy team
Members of the MCF medical and physiotherapy team attend a Catalonian National Team soccer match. MCF team members develop a special understanding of soccer injuries while treating players throughout their careers.

Furthermore, soccer players who are motivated to recover quickly are also a pleasure to work with, he said. “You don’t have to push them. You just have to stop them from maybe playing football with a cast.”

MCF orthopaedic surgeons, like Cugat, also train doctors from all over the world in sports medicine techniques, typically hosting 10 or 12 visiting fellows each year. This year, doctors from Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Portugal and France have come to Barcelona to observe his sports medicine practice.

“They want to come here because our focus is only on soccer; just injuries that occur in soccer players,” noted Cugat, who operates on 20 to 30 players per week.

Whether undergoing treatment of a meniscal tear, a meniscectomy or meniscal transplantation, repair of a torn ACL, PCL or MCL, or fixation of an ankle fracture, the MCF ensures that junior through senior level soccer players get the orthopaedic care they need.

“Players who are treated with surgery in Barcelona receive a very good quality of treatment,” Steinbacher said. — by Susan M. Rapp

Reference:

  • Ramon Cugat, MD, PhD, is an orthopaedic surgeon with Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes in Barcelona and is an Editorial Board member for Orthopaedics Today Europe. He can be reached at ramon.cugat@sportrauma.com.
  • Gilbert Steinbacher, MD, is an orthopaedic surgeon with Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes. He can be reached at gsteinbacher1@hotmail.com.

In Spain, where all levels of soccer players are highly regarded, for the last 80 years the Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes organization has ensured the continuing health of non-professional soccer players throughout Catalunya.

“The mission is to treat soccer players’ injuries and to accompany the player to the safe return to soccer,” Orthopaedics Today Europe Editorial Board member Ramon Cugat, MD, PhD, who has worked with Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes (MCF) since 1965, said.

For decades, Spanish law has mandated that all active, federated Spanish soccer players have health insurance. Realizing that many players and their families may be unable to afford medical insurance covering sports-related injuries, in Catalunya it was offered by the non-profit MCF, established at the same time as the Catalan Football Federation.

Today, MCF is a delegation of the bigger, national Mutualidad de Futbolistas Españoles effort established under the Royal Spanish Football Federation in 1948, according to Cugat.

Pioneering idea

Cugat, of Barcelona, credited those involved in MCF’s early efforts with creating an organization that has remained successful and effective. “It is because of years of commitment, dedication and the vision of all the big names in Catalan orthopaedic surgery that the MCF is able to provide the service it does,” he said.

MCF orthopaedic pioneers include Emilio Moragas, MD, Juan Naves, MD, Joaquin Cabot, MD and Jose Garcia Cugat, MD, among others.

“The idea of creating the MCF at the same time as the Catalan Football Federation is a most pioneering idea, which lasted through the last century and will continue for years to come,” Cugat said.

Gilbert Steinbacher, MD, Ramon Cugat, MD, PhD, and Pedro Alvarez, MD
Performing a surgical procedure on an MCF soccer player the orthopaedic surgeons (left to right) Gilbert Steinbacher, MD, Ramon Cugat, MD, PhD, and Pedro Alvarez, MD.

Images: Cugat R

Treating all injuries

In Catalunya, approximately 124,000 soccer players are eligible for treatment and follow-up care through MCF. Annually they sustain about 17,000 new injuries and undergo about 80,000 rehabilitation sessions and 1,400 surgeries, most of which are arthroscopic.

Barcelona’s MCF reference center comprises four teams involving 14 orthopaedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists with rehabilitation, diagnostic imaging and sonography departments. Cugat’s team includes orthopaedic surgeons Pedro Alvarez, MD, and Gilbert Steinbacher, MD, two sports medicine doctors, and sonography specialists Marta Rius and Juan Manuel Boffa.

“We are doing more ultrasounds for diagnostic reasons,” because ultrasound shows more muscular conditions and is more dynamic than MRI, Steinbacher told Orthopaedics Today Europe.

Knee injuries

With approximately 1,600 clubs playing 4,000 matches in Catalunya on most weekends, reference center teams see a variety of injuries.

“Our requirements are flexible enough to treat all soccer injuries, but we must make sure the injury occurred during the practice of soccer, matches, training, etc.,” Cugat noted.

Injuries to the knee, which are most common, typically involve the ACL and/or the meniscus.

“I think we are lucky because we see a large concentration of very specific sports pathology here,” noted Steinbacher, who has worked with MCF nearly 7 years.

One advantage for MCF physicians is the opportunity to follow some athletes throughout their careers, sometimes until they become professional soccer players. Another is the chance to become experts at managing certain soccer injuries or to become knowledgeable about and skilled at treating such pathologies as osteochondritis of the talus that others rarely see, according to Steinbacher.

MCF medical and physiotherapy team
Members of the MCF medical and physiotherapy team attend a Catalonian National Team soccer match. MCF team members develop a special understanding of soccer injuries while treating players throughout their careers.

Furthermore, soccer players who are motivated to recover quickly are also a pleasure to work with, he said. “You don’t have to push them. You just have to stop them from maybe playing football with a cast.”

MCF orthopaedic surgeons, like Cugat, also train doctors from all over the world in sports medicine techniques, typically hosting 10 or 12 visiting fellows each year. This year, doctors from Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Portugal and France have come to Barcelona to observe his sports medicine practice.

“They want to come here because our focus is only on soccer; just injuries that occur in soccer players,” noted Cugat, who operates on 20 to 30 players per week.

Whether undergoing treatment of a meniscal tear, a meniscectomy or meniscal transplantation, repair of a torn ACL, PCL or MCL, or fixation of an ankle fracture, the MCF ensures that junior through senior level soccer players get the orthopaedic care they need.

“Players who are treated with surgery in Barcelona receive a very good quality of treatment,” Steinbacher said. — by Susan M. Rapp

Reference:

  • Ramon Cugat, MD, PhD, is an orthopaedic surgeon with Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes in Barcelona and is an Editorial Board member for Orthopaedics Today Europe. He can be reached at ramon.cugat@sportrauma.com.
  • Gilbert Steinbacher, MD, is an orthopaedic surgeon with Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes. He can be reached at gsteinbacher1@hotmail.com.