Sports Surgeon, Dr. Adickes on the Rapid Recovery Report™

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Toree McGee: Hi, I’m Toree McGee, and this is Rapid Recovery Report, sponsored by ROMTech, the modern technology of rehabilitation.  I will be doing a weekly series, this, every Thursday at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Eastern, where we talk to different guests, be it surgeons, patients, or insiders here at ROMTech to discuss wellness, health, and touch on ROMTech’s PortableConnect.

If you’re new to ROMTech, this right here is the PortableConnect. It is a high-tech recovery device, geared to get patients moving, and on recovery faster from injuries and surgeries. So, to learn a little bit more about ROMTech, you can visit us at ROMTech.com, and follow us at the social handles listed in the description below.

Sports Surgeon Dr. Adickes

Today, we have a really exciting guest.  I’m super stoked to be talking to him.  And it’s going to be a fun interview today.  We’ve got Dr. Mark Adickes.  

So, if you aren’t familiar with Dr. Adickes, after retiring from the NFL, where he won a Super Bowl, hello, while playing for the Redskins, Dr. Adickes attended George Mason University, and then Harvard University Medical School. 

He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota.  His sports fellowship at The Steadman Hawkins clinic in Colorado under Richard Steadman.  And currently, he’s the chief of sports medicine and associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Adickes also served as team physician for the Houston Rockets, United States ski team, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and University of St. Thomas.  Additionally – gosh, this is a long list, Dr. Adickes.

Dr. Adickes: Busy.  I’m going to add to it too.  

Toree McGee: Yeah.  Additionally, he served as ESPN’s medical analyst, and has been on air several times, discussing major injuries that required orthopedic surgery.  We’re so happy to have you.  

Dr. Adickes: It’s good to be here.  I was digging that jingle.  I was sort of dancing to the jingle little on the start of the show.  I actually moved into private practice, so I’m now part of the Orthopedic Sports Clinic in Houston, but loving life.

Toree McGee: Well, good.  We’re so glad that you’re here with us.  And I guess the most pressing question, I think, is the number one question that I got from folks that I work with is, is there a story – I’m sure there is – behind moving from football to medicine?

Dr. Adickes: Yeah.  I think that anyone who’s playing professional sports, many, you know what you want to do when you’re done.  You’re done, right?  So, nobody really thinks about what they want to do next until they retired.  And so, for me, I played 10 years, my back was acting up, and it was making life pretty difficult, and so, I decided I would retire.  And it was at that point that I began thinking about what I want to do the rest of my life.  Thought about business, physical therapy, medicine, anything you can think of.  Then I really thought about opening franchises. 

And I went to the premed counselor at George Mason University, and I said, “Look, I had a business degree, my grades were okay, but I was kind of major in football, do you think I can get into med school?”  and he said, “Look, I mean if you come here, and you make straight A’s, and you do well in the MCAT, I think you can get into med school.”  And so, that’s what I did.  

And the funny part is, is that when I was applying to med school, my wife is like putting together a list I should apply to.  And she said, “You need to apply to Harvard.”  And I’m like, yeah, right, I would never get in there.  And she said, “No, I mean, you have an unusual story, your scores are great, your grades are straight A’s, I think you can do it.”  So, if wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have applied to Harvard, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be here today.

Toree McGee: Well, that is amazing.  What a shout out.  Very cool.  Very cool.  It’s funny, I’ve talked to a couple people, and one of them said, and I love this, that you are like the epitome of the American dream, right?  From playing in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl, into then going to Harvard Medical School, and becoming like a top orthopedic surgeon in the country.  That’s like the most impressive.

Dr. Adickes: Right.  So, I mean, I’m a Christian guy, but you hear this word, oh, you’re so blessed.  I mean, I look at it, God made us all, we’re all masterpieces in our own might, and it’s just a gift.  I mean, I was a big guy, 270 pounds as a 15-year old.  I mean, I was full grown.  No wonder I like football.  And thankfully, I could do well in school too.  I mean, I look at it all as a big gift.  And certainly, I’ve worked very very hard, but I love what I gave.  That was a wonderful career.  And I love what I do even more.  

Toree McGee: Very cool.  Gio, I think we have a picture of Dr. Adickes.  We may have shown already from back in his football days of being quite the hulk.  Look at you.

Dr. Adickes: Yeah.  I mean, as we look at it, I’m back right, right?  And then my best buddy is Mark Schlereth, who still is calling games for Fox Sports.  He was on ESPN for 15 years.  He’s front left, and his arms look bigger than mine, but they’re still pretty good.  Not too bad.  

Toree McGee: I think you’re doing pretty okay.  Well, considering you’re so busy and you’ve always been busy, you might just have your own internal way of organizing your life.  But one of the questions that we had was how do you manage your sports and ESPN career, along with surgery and family and life in general?

Dr. Adickes: It all comes down to having an incredibly supportive wife.  Because my fall, during the NFL season, I literally fly to LA every single weekend to do TV.  And I did this year too, even during the pandemic.  I flew to LA every single weekend.  We shot our show that was opposite NFL Sunday Ticket, and did all the Fantasy Football injuries.  And I did live injury analysis.  So, during the fall, and this year, with the 17th game, I was waiting for them to say that we’re going to have two buys, which means instead of flying 17 weeks in a row, I’d be flying 19 weeks in a row.  And thankfully, there’s only one buy, so I think it looks like 18 flights.

But I mean, I really enjoy it.  I love football.  I’m a huge sports fan.  We got the NCAAs going on right now, and the women and the men.  I went to Baylor, and so our women’s team is awesome too.  And they didn’t quite make the final four, but I love doing it.  And if it wasn’t for a super supportive wife, I couldn’t do it. 

I have five children.  We have four dogs.  We have a crazy household too.  Anyway, I only have one left home though.  So, she’ll be a senior next year, so maybe my wife can start traveling with me soon.

Toree McGee: Do they all thrive in chaos, because they lived with four dogs and four siblings?

Dr. Adickes: Yeah, exactly.  It’s like literally a mad house.  I mean, it really is.  They go from a yorkie, to a Scottie, to a labradoodle, to a Newfoundland.  It’s like 150 pounds, so it’s crazy.  

Toree McGee: Holy cow.  Are your kids all stairsteps too in height?

Dr. Adickes: Well, three girls, two boys.  The boys tell me that I have weak big genes, because I’m 6’5” something, under 300 just barely.  Anyway, but they’re both about 6’1”, and the girls are all 5’7”, 5’6”. 

Toree McGee: Well, they’re all significantly taller than I am, so they’re doing great in that department.  

The PortableConnect and Knee Surgery Recovery

All right, so let’s talk a little bit more about the PortableConnect.  So, what were your first thoughts when you were introduced to ROMTech and the PortableConnect?

Dr. Adickes: What’s crazy about this is I have this buddy, he’s got like 50 patents, and is just absolutely raking it in.  And my wife said, “Well, you had a lot of good ideas, why don’t you think of some things that you could patent.”  And so, I thought of something.  Unfortunately, someone had already thought about it.  And that’s kind of been my luck when it comes to brilliant ideas, someone else thought about it first.  But ROMTech is one.  

I had my total knee, and I was just struggling to get my motion and to get rid of the pain, the stiffness.  And as soon as I can get on the stationary bike, my life changed.  And so, I thought, gosh, what a brilliant idea if we could develop a bike that we could adjust the sprocket length, so we could start to get our motion back.  

What hurts so badly is muscle co-contraction.  [Inaudible 00:09:42] hurting yourself, so it just makes getting your motion extremely painful and very difficult.  When you get on a bike, you have a chore to do.  You have something you’re trying to do, and so, it gives your muscles an intentional action, and it makes it hurt much less, so you can get motion, and build muscle, and have less pain.  And so, I mean it’s just this phenomenally brilliant idea, and I actually found ROMTech at about the same time ROMTech found me.  

And so, for me, it was just like a no brainer.  I love it.  I don’t know how many patients I have on it.  More than 100 for sure.  Literally, universally, everyone has loved it.  

Toree McGee: Good.  So, how many knee surgeries have you had?  Have you been able to use it personally?  

Dr. Adickes: Well, I’ve had 15 surgeries altogether.  But on my right knee, I’ve had nine.  And so, I’ve had two big ligament reconstructions, and then I’ve had a number of scopes, and then I have a total knee, and then I had one procedure to help me get my motion when I couldn’t get it on my own, because I didn’t have a ROMTech, because it wasn’t developed yet.  

Toree McGee: Well, we hope that you won’t have to have any more knee surgeries moving forward.  If you do, we’ll be here.  

Dr. Adickes: Me too. 

Toree McGee: All right, so I got some really great questions from folks that I work with, so I’m going to roll through those.  And then if there are any folks that are listening that have some question for you, we’ll hit those.  If you want to post them on the comment section, and do our best for the time that we’ve been given. 

Easing Surgical Anxiety

So, the next question I’ve got for you is, how do you handle patients who are afraid of surgery?

Dr. Adickes: I think it’s a little bit easier for me having had a bunch of surgery.  The other thing is that I don’t sugarcoat anything.  I’m going to tell you exactly what to expect.  And I can go through it from the day before.  And in some cases, it’s super helpful to have people do a physical therapy session before surgery, to kind of show patients what you’re going to be doing afterwards.  And so, I think it’s really easy for me to say, “Look, I had been through this,” because almost every procedure that I do, I’ve had.  And I can explain to them that, yes, it’s not easy for the first few days, but it gets progressively easier.  And before long, and I usually can give them a window when they’re going to be better than they were before they had surgery, and I make that realistic.  

For the most part, most folks do really well.  I mean, they get over their fears.  Sometimes, I show them videos and other things to kind of help.  Nothing too graphic. 

Toree McGee: Right.

Dr. Adickes: But sort of some sketches and such that their fears can be light. 

Toree McGee: Yeah, I know that I would feel a lot better with a doctor who’s had the exact same, or at least a very similar procedure himself, just to be able to kind of explain it a little bit better, and be like, “Listen, I’m okay.”  Like, I went through this, and look, I can move my arms.  

Dr. Adickes: If I can make it through, I mean, this will be a breeze for you.  

The Importance of Physical Therapy

Toree McGee: For sure.  Alrighty.  So, can you comment on rehabilitation, and how that affects patient’s outcomes and satisfaction with the entire surgery process?

Dr. Adickes: Well, I mean, physical therapy was key.  I mean, when I was playing professional sports, and I had surgery, and I had a bunch of my surgeries while I was playing, I mean, being able to work with physical therapists and athletic trainers every single day is huge.  And multiple times a day, it made a big difference.

Now, for most folks who have jobs, and don’t have access to physical therapists and athletic trainers, and everything that a professional athlete has access to, I mean, it’s difficult.  If all you’re doing is seeing a physical therapist twice a week, how are you going to make great progress, right?  And yes, you can have a list of exercise that you’re supposed to do, but ROMTech makes it very very easy.  I mean, it really does.  

It takes you from passive range of motion, and that means that the machine is moving you.  You’re not having to push.  And it takes you all the way through active range of motion, and then adding tension, so you could start to build muscle.  And you can do it, and it encourages you to do it.  And I can watch to make sure you’re doing it, because there’s an app that goes with it, so I can follow every single thing you’re doing, and how many times you’re doing it, and what your range of motion is.  But it makes it very easy for you [inaudible 00:14:40].  

Toree McGee: Yeah, I feel like the next wave would be like dentists having an app to make sure that they can watch you floss, because nobody does.

Dr. Adickes: Oh, my gosh.  I hope we’re not.  

Toree McGee: I mean, that’s the comparison. 

Dr. Adickes: I’m not good enough.

Toree McGee: That’s the comparison I always make.  You know what I mean?  Nobody likes doing PT.  You have these things that you’re supposed to be doing, but you don’t.  You’re supposed to floss, you don’t.  It’s human nature, so it does make it much easier knowing that your surgeon can be watching, and call you out on the rug, and tell you to do what you’re supposed to do.

Dr. Adickes: Yeah, I kind of floss my teeth every time I wash my car.  

Toree McGee: Mine might even be fewer than you.  I live in California.  I rarely wash my car.  

Dr. Adickes: I know.  It’s a good point.  You guys don’t need to.  

Total Knee Replacement vs. Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

Toree McGee: Okay.  So, how many different procedures are you using the PortableConnect on outside of total and partial knees for your patients? 

Dr. Adickes: I’m a sports surgeon who does everything in the knee.  So, having had a total knee, I’m starting to do actually more total knees and partial knees than I used to, because I’m so happy with mine, and I want to be able to pass on the love, if you will.  But being a knee surgeon, ACLs is a big one.  Meniscus repairs, quad tendon repairs, patella tendon repairs, patellar dislocations, and then I do hip arthroscopy.  So, all my hip arthroscopy patients are getting on it as well, because really, you want to make sure your patients are getting motion, but you also want to return that muscle tone to normal.  And being able to get on the ROMTech device has been a huge difference in all of those hip patients as well. 

Toree McGee: Good.  We love to hear that.  All right.  So, what can patients do prior to surgery to increase their chances of a better outcome?

Preparing for Better Surgery Outcomes

Dr. Adickes: I think that patients, if they’re not someone that eats healthy already, I think getting on a good diet, hydrating properly.  I’ll prescribe preoperative physical therapy for my patients all the time, so that they know.  Hey, I mean, I actually have some deficits before surgery that I should work on now before I have surgery.  So, exercise beforehand is obviously incredibly helpful.  And all those things just make it so that there’s far fewer complications, and much better outcomes.  

Toree McGee: Absolutely.  I mean, the less weight you can have on joints and all of that kind of stuff is better, the less strain.

Dr. Adickes: Absolutely.

Toree McGee: Alrighty.  So, I’ve got one more question for you, and then if we’ll have any people out there in the inter-webs that ask anything live, we can hit those.

Immediate Mobilization After Surgery

So, we often hear about the importance of immediate mobilization after surgery.  So, I think we touched on that a little bit, but can you expand on that to help us understand why that’s so important?

Dr. Adickes: One you’ve had surgery, any kind of surgery, what hurts is the end range of motion.  So, when you first have a knee surgery, the end range of motion, because you’ve just had surgery, it may be when you get within 20 degrees of full extension and when you bend your knee 45.  So, there’s almost no range of motion where you have no pain.  And there’s this large range of motion where you actually have pain.  So, being able to get on a device that immediately gets you moving, takes that end range of motion out to a wider area.  So, where you were 20 to 45, now you’re zero to 90, and so most of the time, you have no pain.  And you only have pain when you get beyond 90. 

So, what I tell people is, look, it is muscle co-contraction that creates the greatest degree of pain.  It is the end range of motion where your pain is.  So, if you do something that eliminates muscle co-contraction and increases your range of motion, the pain that you have around your postoperative period is going to be much less.  And so, that’s where the magic lies in ROMTech.

Toree McGee: Okay, well, great.  I think those are all of the questions that we’ve got.  If we have anybody out in the comment section, you want to go ahead and leave those, and we’ll try to get to them.  But I guess that’s sort of all that I had for you for now, Dr. Adickes.  Thank you so much for spending time with us.

Dr. Adickes: Well, thanks for having me on.  

Toree McGee: Of course.  This was so much fun.  Remember you guys, we’re going to be doing this once a week with different surgeons.  We’d love to have you back any time, Dr. Adickes.  We’ll have patients.

Dr. Adickes: I’ll come by again.  I’m not afraid.  

Toree McGee: We’ll have more stories where you can boost your wife up, and hold her up—

Dr. Adickes: There you go.

Toree McGee: Maybe get you some extra special dinners or something. 

Dr. Adickes: My anniversary, 28th, is this Saturday.

Toree McGee: Oh my gosh.  Well, happy anniversary.  Give her a big hug from us.  

Dr. Adickes: I will.

Toree McGee: All right, you guys, thank you so much.  And be sure to follow us on all of our socials.  You can follow us on Facebook.  You can subscribe on YouTube, follow us on Instagram and Twitter.  And check us out at www.romtech.com. Thanks so much, you guys, and we’ll see you next week. 

Disclaimer: The content discussed on this program is often medical in nature, and is used for informational purposes only. No content discussed should be taken as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for any medical questions. 

Privacy is also of the utmost importance to us. All people, places, and scenarios mentioned have been changed to protect patient confidentiality, unless given explicit written permission to share.  

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing a “standard of care” in a legal sense, or as a basis for expert witness testimony. 

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