Penn State team physician to be honored by Philadelphia Sports Medicine Congress

Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State Director of Athletic Medicine, talks about football coach Joe Paterno's recovery from Sunday's leg surgery during a news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006 in State College, Pa. Paterno was injured during the Wisconsin game on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2006. Penn State plays Temple, at home, this Saturday. (AP Photo/ Pat Little)

Before Adam Taliaferro became an inspirational story for patients with spinal cord injuries, his story appeared headed for a tragic ending. Thanks to his determination and the support of people like Penn State director of athletic medicine Wayne Sebastianelli, M.D., Taliaferro turned tragedy to triumph.

Next Friday, June 6, the duo will be reunited at the 15th Philadelphia Sports Medicine Congress, to be held at the National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East, Philadelphia. Dr. Sebastianelli will be presented with the Joe Torg Award, while Taliaferro will serve as the event’s keynote speaker.

Taliaferro was a Penn State freshman when he was injured in a game against Ohio State in September 2000. Initially given only a miniscule chance of walking again, Taliaferro’s inspirational recovery took place right here in Philadelphia at Magee Rehab.

During Adam’s darkest days, Dr. Sebastianelli was there for him every step of the way—travelling from State College to visit Adam in Philadelphia at least once a week.  

It’s that commitment to his patients and profession that made Dr. Sebastianelli a natural choice for the 2014 Joe Torg Award, created to honor individual orthopaedic surgeons primarily in the greater Philadelphia area who devote their careers to the care of athletes, who participate in the educational process and who have made significant contributions to the body of knowledge of orthopaedics.

“Adam’s case is just one example of Dr. Sebastianelli going above and beyond for his patients,” says Justin Shaginaw, M.P.T., A.T.C., Sports Doc panelist and Course Director for the Sports Medicine Congress.

Shaginaw says there was no formal plan to have Dr. Sebastianelli and Taliaferro both on hand, but admits that the reunion seems poetic.

“Dr. Joe Torg was sort of the grandfather of sports medicine,” explains Shaginaw, “developing the physician/athletic trainer relationship between himself and Ted Quedenfeld.”

That relationship, Shaginaw continued, is paramount to the successful practice of sports medicine. Not coincidentally, a top athletic trainer in the area is recognized each year with receipt of the Ted Quedenfeld Award. This year’s recipient is Tanya Dargusch, the head athletic trainer at Washington Township High School since 1988. Over the years, Tanya has worked with the United States Olympic teams through the USOC, traveling internationally with women's team handball and women's volleyball.

Other speakers will include James Bradley, M.D., head orthopaedic surgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dr. Bradley recently published an article on quantifying the duration of hamstring injuries in NFL players through the use of MRI. Other presentations will focus on swimming, hockey, running and general conditioning. A full list of presenters and topics is available at

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.