America’s Doctor for America’s Pastime: Rothman Orthopaedic Surgeon Serves for USA Men’s Baseball Team in 2020 Olympic Games
As the world prepares to tune into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games from our living rooms, our own Dr. Daryl C. Osbahr, Managing Director and Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rothman Orthopaedics - Florida, will be headed to Japan as the official physician of the USA Men’s Baseball team.
That’s right – the same surgeon who may have repaired your ACL or restored your shattered elbow will be in the dugout with the greatest of the great as they battle to become champions of the world.
We sat down to find out more about how Dr. Osbahr got involved with the Olympics and how he’ll be spending his time in Tokyo. We were surprised to learn he’s even been getting his own shoes dirty out on the diamond with the team.
Find out more about Dr. Osbahr’s career, take a behind the scenes look at his role in this year’s Olympics and hear about the strategies he’s bringing to Tokyo with him.
We’re all curious - how did you go about joining the Olympics as a physician? What was that process like?
Although I have been honored to be a physician for a number of professional teams and elite athletes, there is no greater honor than being selected to be a representative of your country!
There are several pathways to get involved with Team USA, including National Governing Bodies (NGBs) which provide oversight to specific sports. The NGBs that I currently work with include USA Baseball and US Soccer. Depending on your role on the medical team with each NGB, you may be presented with an opportunity to be selected as a member of an Olympic Team to participate in providing care for the athletes during an Olympic Games.
In my role as Co-Chief Medical Officer and Head Orthopaedic Surgeon of USA Baseball, I was honored to be selected as a team physician for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
You’ve had years of experience working with athletes. In what ways has being a physician prepared you for your time at the Olympics?
Over the years, I have been honored to provide medical care for so many elite athletes in numerous sports that range from the professional to youth population. I have been able to learn from so many uplifting and disappointing moments which have ultimately prepared me for the spectrum of medical issues that may arise in Tokyo.
From managing athlete injuries and illnesses in poor countries with minimal resources to managing unfortunate situations on any given night in the United States, including open fractures, C-Spine injuries, heart events, and significant head injuries, all of my past experiences have ultimately provided me with knowledge and training to be prepared to help our Team USA athletes not only stay healthy, but also provide them with world class medical care when needed.
What words of wisdom or strategies are you bringing with you to Tokyo?
The 3 A’s of high level sports medicine care can ring especially true when providing medical care for Olympic Athletes: accessibility, affability, and ability. These attributes have to be second nature to health care providers who provide medical care for athletes “on the road”. One must remember that you are a member of the team, and every member of the team must be a “jack of all trades” to assist in every role necessary to help the team achieve the ultimate goal of success on the field.
During our recent Olympic Qualifier where we were able to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, I assisted with not only medical care but also activities during batting practice, fielding drills, meals, and so much more! Given the limitations enacted to decrease staff during the COVID pandemic, in fact, I assisted as one of the bat boys during many of the competition and exhibition games!
As I looked back on the experience, I realized that I actually served as a bat boy at the same stadium in Vero Beach, Florida, as a boy for the Los Angeles Dodgers who played their spring training games there and now as an adult for USA Baseball.
You’re clearly passionate about sports medicine. Is this what drove you to your career?
As with many orthopedic sports medicine surgeons, several personal youth injuries exposed me to the field of sports medicine, and this exposure provided the framework for my ultimate development into an orthopaedic sports medicine surgeon.
Through my past sports experiences, I learned the value of passion, excellence, leadership, and team building – these attributes provided the foundation for my path to orthopaedic sports medicine.
Although I ultimately could not achieve my own personal goals on the field, I have been blessed and honored to be part of the journey back to the field for so many other athletes– including youth, high school, college, professional, Olympic, weekend warrior, and master athletes – by being able to build an enhanced recovery plan that could lead to their own personal comeback.
We’ll knock on wood here, but are there specific baseball injuries you're going to the games expecting to see?
The ultimate prayer for every team physician covering games or events is to not be needed at all from a medical perspective; however, injuries are ultimately a part of sports. In baseball, we often see shoulder and elbow injuries, especially in pitchers, as well as soft-tissue injuries, including muscle-tendon injuries. Our hope will be that we have success in Tokyo and win the gold medal while also coming back healthy!
So are you friends with the team?! Tell us what your relationship with the guys has been like so far.
I’ve been a member of the USA Baseball medical team for a long time, and it initially started with my role as a member of the USA Baseball Medical & Safety Committee. With this role and others, I have developed a wonderful relationship with our administrative staff and coaches over the years. For every event though, we may have a number of returning or new players and staff depending upon the event and level of the team.
When it comes to our current Olympic Team, fortunately I’ve been able to develop a great relationship with many of the players as our Olympic qualifying process has been developing over the course of the last 2 years. This process has taken me to Mexico, Japan, North Carolina, and Southeastern Florida.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking with the players over the phone, participating in training camp, and traveling to Tokyo with the team. I’m first and foremost each player’s doctor, but I also enjoy developing relationships with the players which can sometimes last a lifetime.
I can’t wait to be officially a member of the Team USA and USA Baseball Delegations for an Olympics!
Want to hear more from Dr. Osbahr himself? Check out Red, White and Baseball - Episode 7 of The Breakdown: The Official Podcast of Rothman Orthopaedics.