Treating the elite of the elite — Dr. Robert S. Bray, Jr. on using an integrative approach in sports medicine

Orthopedic Sports Medicine

Sports medicine is a rapidly expanding field, with the global sports medicine device market projected to reach nearly $8.63 billion within the next six years. Many leading sports medicine specialists utilize an integrative treatment approach, which emphasizes proactive rather reactive treatment for sports-related injuries.

Bray"We are getting away from just treating the injured athlete," says Robert S. Bray, Jr., MD, of California-based DISC Sports & Spine Center, medical director for Red Bull North America and official spine consultant for the Los Angeles Kings. "We assess how we can prevent injury and incorporate that into their training."


Dr. Bray has firsthand experience treating top athletes. He was a team physician for U.S. Olympic teams for eight years, and currently collaborates with Red Bull in caring for their athletes. For years, a medical team solely comprised of a physician and a trainer would treat athletes at the time of injury. DISC teamed up with Red Bull because the "lifestyle technology company" had a keen eye on where the sports medicine field was trending. The Red Bull athlete can have their athletic performance assessed , which encompasses oxygen intake and sustainable sugar in addition to other factors, to devise injury-prevention strategies.


DISC's team consists of providers specializing in various fields including rehabilitation, micromechanics, soft tissue and pain management. The specialists work with each other and the athlete to ensure they can get back onto the field as quickly and safely as possible.


"Rather than telling athletes what they can or can't do, we look at what they need to do to get back to work," Dr. Bray says. "It pushes my doctors into thinking less invasively and working with the athletes. It is a good lesson in general for how we take care of our patients."


As patients, athletes tend to tell surgeons what they need from them, and sports medicine surgeons often have to forgo their ego to put themselves in the athlete's shoes. Dr. Bray and his fellow surgeons translate this approach to all of their patients, which helps expand their patient base as well as obtain high patient satisfaction scores. If a patient can successfully recover and return to the board room meeting or football scrimmage, they will be more prone to recommend a center to their friends and families, thus building a center's reputation.


"With DISC, we built more than an ASC — we built a practice around an integrative group," Dr. Bray says. "We have learned a lot from the athletes themselves. We have applied that multidisciplinary approach to treating all our patients, which really puts us ahead. It is the efficiency of medicine that brings in patients."


More articles on sports medicine:
Children's Hospital Foundation receives $1M donation for diabetes sports medicine program — 3 highlights
Premier Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine rides St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Marathon train — 4 things to know
Drs. Michael Slutzky, Daniel Tang & more: 22 orthopedic surgeons in the headlines this week — April 29, 2016

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