Sports Medicine Physician, Dr. Carr on The Rapid Recovery Report™

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Toree McGee: Hi, I’m Toree McGee, and welcome to The Rapid Recovery Report, brought to you by ROMTech.  Now, this is our very first iteration, I guess, of these that we’re going to be doing.  And what it is that we’re going to be doing, in fact, here is talking to surgeons, talking to some of our own ROM stars, as we like to call them, to give you a little bit of information about what we’re doing here at ROMTech, and to chat a little bit with some surgeons, get some opinions, and some conversations going.  So, we’re looking forward to it, and I hope that you guys are too.

And with me today, we’ve got Dr. Carr.  We’re going to give you a little bit of background information, in case you’re not super familiar with ROMTech, which is the company that is sponsoring this. They’re who I work for.  And their product is going to be what we’re going to be talking about a little bit today. 

So, the ROM in ROMTech stands for Range Of Motion, and that’s kind of our baby.  We’ve got a product called the PortableConnect®, and it focuses mostly on lower extremity rehab and PT, with the end result of patient’s post-surgery, post-injury to recover their entire range of motion.  So, I think we’ve got a little picture that’s up here, but let’s go ahead, and get into talking to Dr. Carr. 

Sports Medicine Physician Dr. Carr

So, a little bit about him. Dr. Carr is a retired sports medicine physician, who is widely recognized for his numerous high-level appointments for national teams in international competitions throughout his tenure.  Notably, he served as the physician to the US Olympic team at the 96 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.  He served as the head physician during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.  And he regularly practiced the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  He also was the orthopedic consultant for the Chicago Cubs, among many others.  And Dr. Carr has authored several publications.  He sat on the editorial board of the American Journal of Arthroscopy, and has spoken publicly on many orthopedic and sports medicine related topics. 

So, welcome Dr. Carr.  Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today.  

Dr. Carr: Thank you, Toree.  No wonder why I retired, that’s a long list.  

Toree McGee: That’s a long list, and that’s a lot of really really impressive work. 

Dr. Carr: Thank you.

Toree McGee: Alrighty, well, let’s get right into it.  So, we figured it would be appropriate for this episode to talk about sports injury and recovery, because that seems like right up your alley.  

Dr. Carr: Yes, indeed. 

Toree McGee: Awesome.  Well, I know that you were a baseball player in school, right? 

Dr. Carr: Yeah, in high school, I was a baseball player and a football player, and I actually had aspirations of going and playing, and went on a college football scholarship.  And as I’ve treated many, I tore my knee up and hurt my wrist, and went to the sidelines, and decided I’m probably not going to make it, so then decided, well, maybe the next thing I ought to be is study rocks, so I went to undergrad, and finished up in geology, and then went to geologic oceanography, didn’t really care much for that.  

So, I really like sports, I watched it on TV all the time, so I said, “What the heck, let me treat them, rather than be one,” and rocks and bones are pretty similar.  So, I applied to med school, got in, got into orthopedics, and had a career in sports medicine.  

Toree McGee: That’s very interesting.  Yeah, no kidding.  I don’t know that I’ve talked to an orthopedic surgeon yet who started as you did.  You’re very unique in that way, okay. 

Okay, so what is the most common sports injury or surgical sports injury that you see? 

Dr. Carr: Well, clearly, in a sports medicine practice, you’re on the field, the most common injury is a sprained ankle.  Now, we don’t take many of those to surgery.  When we’re talking surgery at the lower extremity, it’s generally knee, cartilage tear, ACL tears, kneecap dislocations, those sort injuries that require surgery. 

Toree McGee: Sure, okay.  And how many of those have you had yourself? 

Dr. Carr: I had an ACL.  I’ve had four surgeries on my knee, and each one has had a complication.  My patients didn’t have many, but I had them all for them, so I sacrificed.  That’s part of the deal of being a physician, I guess.

Toree McGee: Yeah, I guess you have to learn what goes wrong to make sure that that doesn’t happen with your own patients.  

Dr. Carr: Exactly.

PortableConnect Impact on Sports Medicine

Toree McGee: Okay, so next question, let’s talk about the PortableConnect a little bit.  What impact do you think the PortableConnect has had on sports injury recovery, or what impact do you think it will have in the future?

Dr. Carr: I think there’s several aspects of it.  I think we have to talk about the level of athlete.  We’re talking about like the Olympic and college and professional athlete.  I think it has a big role for them.  Like taking care of national teams, often times, they will go home, and have their surgery, but you have national team coaches and national team presidents and team that want to follow the progress. So, with the PortableConnect, they can work out all the time at home, which is critically important to these high-level athletes. They don’t want to get behind.  And their trainer or their coach can follow their progress through the PortableConnect’s IT, and see how they’re doing.  And then also, tell them things they need to do to continue improvement for their sport-specific injury. 

For the everyday athlete, it’s a way to decrease that time mom and dad has to get out of work to take them to physical therapy as often.  And they can train at home.  And again, they can stay ahead of the curve, and I think that’s the real beauty of it, being able to objectively measure how much improvement they have.  

We’ve also found that, in this day and age, there’s a huge decrease in the amount of pain medication post-surgically that either the high level or just everyday joe has, while being on the PortableConnect versus traditional ways of treating athletes

Toree McGee: Yeah, absolutely.  I mean, that’s all been anecdotal, that there’s been less pain med, but it definitely makes the difference.  I mean, I remember even when I got my wisdom teeth out, they had given me like some pretty serious meds from recovery, and they just messed with my stomach and everything.  And it’s hard enough just dealing with regular recovery of things, let alone adding stomach problems, and whatever else into it.  

Dr. Carr: Well, Toree, as another common sports injury, the wisdom teeth, and I don’t really think we’ll have a role for the PortableConnect for a while for that injury, but anyway.  

Toree McGee: Yeah, unless we can get something to just move the jaw kind of up and down.  Never know what the future will hold, I suppose. 

Okay, what is the most important thing to consider, in your opinion, when it comes to recovering from an injury, like a lower extremity sports injury? 

Dr. Carr: Well, I think there’s several things.  One, I think you have to have the expectations, and limit those expectations, especially early on.  So, that’s one of the beauties of PortableConnect is that the therapist or the doctor can direct how much motion and how much force you’re putting on the bike, and can monitor, and it just shut off if you go too far.  So many people don’t want to get behind, and they want to stay up to date, and actually they’re so self-motivated that they want to overdo it.  And so, this can be controlled.  

And then the other thing is that they can go on four or five times a day, rather than that one trip to the gym or one trip to the trainer, or the physical therapist.  They can be on it four or five times a day, which has a big effect in pain control, range of motion increase, swelling decrease, and all the things that we look for, and trying to get people back more rapidly.

I don’t think it really helps you heal the ligament in or heal the soft tissue in, but all the other things that surround it just feels so much better, so much more quickly.

Toree McGee: Yeah, and to the nonmedical brain, I guess as counterproductive as it sounds, movement is really what keeps swelling down in an injury.  Am I right?

Dr. Carr: Oh, no question.  I mean, anyone who’s had surgery, sits in the chair for a while, and with ice.  They just sit there, and then tries to get up.  I mean, those first few steps are like daggers.  So, if we can keep that motion going, and your body used to that, and you coordinate the muscle to recreate that, then that’s such a big step forward. 

Toree McGee: Yeah, I mean, my non-science brain, everything is like, no, no, movement would agitate it.  But I mean, I’ll tell you, firsthand, I ran my first half marathon when I was much younger, and right after it was over, I hopped in the pool.  It was summer.  It was through Disneyland was where I ran the half marathon, and hopped into the pool after, and just moved around.  And I was less sore than I was in my training for the marathon, just from that movement in the swimming pool, against like the resistive water.  And that’s when it clicked, and I’m like, okay, I know movement does make a big difference with recovery in any level.

Dr. Carr: Yeah, no question.  That’s the truth. 

Toree McGee: Yeah, absolutely.  And for high-level athletes, often, the reason that they’re high level and that they’ve made it into like a professional level of athleticism is their drive and their willingness to do things that other people necessarily aren’t willing to do, or they don’t even have the energy for, and so, it is nice to be able to, I’m sure, as a surgeon monitor, as well as limit that movement if they tend to want to overdo things all the time. 

Dr. Carr: That’s correct, and so many of those movements is sport-specific.  Ski-jumper compared to figure skater, compared to a track star, or soccer player.  So, that way, with the PortableConnect, the physician and the trainer can coordinate those things that are important for their recovery compared to just regular routine that most people would go through, look up on the internet, and say this is the way we go.  So, yeah, for sure.  

Avoiding Sports-Related Injuries

Toree McGee: Yeah, absolutely.  Well, good.  This has all been awesome information.  All right, I think I just got maybe one more question for you.  So, how can injuries, like the ones that we’ve talked about, be avoided, if at all possible?

Dr. Carr: Well, I think, at a high level, most of those are related to either trauma by you fall off the ski jump or that you overtrain, and you get a stress reaction.  I think for us everyday people, our injuries are not stretched enough, we don’t drink enough water.  We don’t slow down enough.  And so, those are overuse and stretching injuries and soft-tissue injuries primarily.  So, it varies depending on what you’re doing and what your goals are, but it’s usually overused or trauma versus not warming up and not being prepared.

Toree McGee: Sure.  I know that there’s not much that you can do when something happens, and you come into a traumatic injury, right?  But as far as stretching for us normal folks, I think it’s something that gets overlooked a lot, and it can have a real big impact.  

Dr. Carr: Yeah, much like your swimming after the half marathon.  It’s just the exercise and the motion and the cooldown made a huge difference for you.  

Toree McGee: Yeah, it really did.  I mean, I feel like until you experience something like that necessarily yourself, it doesn’t always click, like I had said for me.  Of course, if you’re a surgeon or in the medical field by trade, it makes a little more sense, because that’s something you spent a lot time studying.

Dr. Carr: Well, we clearly see everything, so we know what not to do.  And then the only other thing I would say is, I think, in the younger generation, we’re so sports-specific at such a young age.  And I think it’s very important that we cross-train, and we do multiple sports, because we develop different muscle groups, and different timing, and I think that’s critical, or you don’t start at 10 years old, and just focus on one sport.  That’s when we see a lot of injuries as well. 

Toree McGee: Yeah, absolutely.  I agree.  Well, let me think here if I have anything else that I wanted to ask you before I let you go.  I feel so privileged to be talking to someone who’s done so many great things in their career.  So, let’s see.  

Well, you’re retired now, right? You’ve done so much. 

Dr. Carr: I’m retired, yes. 

Toree McGee: You have a new grandbaby that, I think, you went to go see yesterday, so lots to enjoy.

Dr. Carr: I have very much. My sixth grandchild, so that keeps me busy itself.  

Toree McGee: That’s amazing.  Congratulations. 

Dr. Carr: Thank you.

Dr. Carr’s Experience with the PortableConnect

Toree McGee: So, how does a retired surgeon know so much about the PortableConnect, if you’re not necessarily in practice with athletes anymore?

Dr. Carr: I got involved two or three years ago, and I said, “hey, this is going to be great for the patient. It’s going to be great for the surgeon.”  It’s going to fill a little hole that we have in the niche in our armor that we have to treat people.  And when I see that, and I just say, “Well, I’d like to get involved in that,” and that’s what’s happened.  

And I’m a true believer. I actually have said many times, I almost wish I hadn’t retired so I could be putting my own patients on right now. I’ve had a couple knee injuries. I could put myself on as well.  So, I just get excited when I see something like this that’s going to revolutionize post-op rehab care.

Toree McGee: Absolutely.  I even, myself when I’m sitting here at my desk all day, often, I’m like, I wish I had a PortableConnect or something just to keep me moving throughout the day, which I’m sure would make a big difference too.

So, what do you think then, being so interested in seeing it, and really being a true believer, what in your opinion, makes the PortableConnect really revolutionary in terms of medicine and recovery?

Dr. Carr: I think there’s two things.  One, I think the ability to control someone’s rehab from home and from the office or from the therapist remotely.  I think the direct connection with the patient and their physician or their therapist is an immense comfort for the patient.  And I think it also is very reassuring for the surgeon.  Like you’re worried about someone, how they’re doing, well, you can just check in online, and see where they’re at.  If they’re falling behind, then you can reach out, and say, “Hey, are things going okay.”  Whereas in before, when I was practicing, you just wait for them to come in, or they call, they come in for sixth-week visit, and they’re either doing well, or wow, I wish you’d call, or told me earlier then, so we could have gotten ahead of this.  So, I think that’s a huge benefit for patients and for the medical community.

Toree McGee: Yeah, I agree.  We actually have a question that just popped up from someone in Michigan.  How do you feel about remotely monitoring patients?  And I think you addressed that a little bit, but maybe it’s just a personal kind of question.

Dr. Carr: Well, obviously, you rather have them in the office, but they aren’t going to be in the office every day.  I think that you lose track of them, especially I would get many patients that came in from around the country.  You’d operate on them, and then you send them home.  And as the PortableConnect is getting more nationwide, I could actually monitor them from California when I’m in Virginia.  I wouldn’t do it every day, but if they have question, they could show me the numbers, and I can look at them, and I could look at their wounds or telemedicine portal, and see where they’re at, and give them some suggestions, or hey, you better get in to see someone local and let me call someone to get you in, or you just need reassurance.  You’re doing fine, or okay, slow down, you’re coming too fast.  So, all those things, I think, are very important. 

Toree McGee: I agree. I think, myself, probably like most people, no offense, I don’t like going to the doctor.  

Dr. Carr: I don’t.

Toree McGee: Yeah, I never have.  It’s never been a thing that I enjoy doing.  Maybe it’s my inner homebody.  But just if I can avoid it, I do.  And so, for me, I’ve really appreciated the growth of telemedicine, and especially in times of COVID.  I know that ROMTech didn’t plan for, nobody planned for COVID, or expected it, but we kind of turned out to be in the right place at the right time.  So, as far as telemedicine goes, I guess, this kind of goes into their remote patient monitoring.  Do you think that telemedicine is going to be something that, number one, will stay in the capacity that it’s been during COVID, and number two, grow into more, I guess, avenues of medicine in the future?

Dr. Carr: I think we found many things that can be done telemedicine-wise.  I think, for me, to examine someone’s knee, I mean I can look at it on the camera and things, but I can’t really test them, and see precisely where it hurts and what maneuvers make it to hurt, so you’ll lose some information that way.  And I think we’ll go more. If we do more telemedicine, everyone gets an MRI to really have what exactly is going on inside.  So, there’s good and bad parts.  Plus, I think some patients just like to sit in the office, and talk with your doctor, and sometimes, it’s therapeutic.  

I didn’t like going to doctors either.  I just thought that the best way I can leave here is them saying nothing is wrong with me. I mean, everything else from that is a negative.  So, there’s something going wrong there.  

So anyway, telemedicine, I just seem to hear it on telemedicine, I think, in some regards. 

Toree McGee: Yeah, I think that hybrid is kind of the way to go too, because like you said, there are some things that just you can’t really get over a screen. 

Dr. Carr: No, absolutely, no question about it. 

Toree McGee: Absolutely.  And I mean, I love my primary care physician.  I think he’s wonderful.  I didn’t like going to the doctor, but once I’m there, it is nice to kind of catch up a little bit, and see somebody.

Dr. Carr: Yes, some of the older patients would come in, and not just they’re older, but they would just like to chat.  I think it was kind of like going to see their minister or the priest.  Hey, let’s just chat.  And okay, I got to go see some other patients today, but it’s still fun.  Made you glad to be a physician, for sure.

Toree McGee: Absolutely.  I love talking to surgeons and doctors who make a real connection with their patients.  I mean, obviously, even just talking with you today, you can tell that your demeanor is very warm and caring, and I’m sure that that’s a real big reason that you got into medicine in the first place.  

Dr. Carr: Yeah, much better than talking to rocks, that’s for sure.  

Toree McGee: I bet.  Did you have a pet rock growing up?

Dr. Carr: I had a pet rock, of course.  

Toree McGee: And did that influence your geology interest?

Dr. Carr: No, I was in civil engineering, but I wasn’t smart enough stay in that, so I said rocks and sand and dirt, so I went that direction instead.  

Toree McGee: Well, we’re still glad that you wound up in medicine, so that we were able to talk to you today.  We really appreciate it.  

Dr. Carr: Thank you.

Toree McGee: Yeah, thank you so much.  Thank you, guys, for tuning in and watching our very first episode of Rapid Recovery Report.  We’ll be doing this on a weekly basis.  This will be available for replay.  So, Dr. Carr, feel free to share it with your friends who want to hear you chat.  

Dr. Carr: Thank you. They try to shut me up. They don’t want to hear more of me.

Toree McGee: All right.  Well, thank you so much.  Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube and our Facebook channels, so that you can get more information with awesome doctors like Dr. Carr in the future.  Thanks guys.

Dr. Carr: Thank you. 

Thanks for joining us.

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