The Paula Gordon Show
Add a Little Fun to the Play

Joseph P. Chandler, M.D.

      . . . has been Team Orthopaedist for the Atlanta Braves since 1987. He takes care of regular people, too, as a partner with the Resurgens Orthopaedics group in Atlanta. Dr. Chandler went to medical school at Emory University, trained in surgery and sports medicine at Yale and the University of Iowa. In addition to his passion for medicine, he is an avid baseball fan.

Excerpts3:43 secs

      What do Atlanta Braves baseball stars have in common with weekend athletes and kids on swim teams? When they get hurt, Dr. Joseph P. Chandler treats them. In addition to being a partner at Resurgens Orthopaedics in Atlanta, Dr. Chandler is Team Orthopaedist for the Atlanta Braves.

      Whatever the injury, whatever the station in life, all of Dr. Chandler’s patients share differences. A patient’s goals and demands differ radically. Everybody’s genetic structure is different and individual bodies respond differently over time and under various circumstances. Alas, we were not all made to withstand the astonishing physical (and psychological) stresses of being a Major League baseball pitcher -- star athletes are “genetically blessed.” And being abundantly competitive also helps.

      These distinguishing characteristics of baseball stars make them fun to treat as patients, according to Dr. Chandler. He’s found that’s especially true of Atlanta Braves players -- exceptional people as well as players. He credits the entire Braves organization for great scouting and much more.

      Dr. Chandler worries when overly enthusiastic parents and coaches forget that most kids simply don’t possess the unique combination that adds up to a career in professional sports. He urges us to help kids enjoy the great benefits of sports for physical and emotional health, rather than allowing kids to get physically and emotionally hurt by focusing them on one single sport, year round. He’s sad to see over-professionalizing sports for the very young. Parent alert: some coaches, especially on youth baseball teams, simply don’t want to hear Dr. Chandler’s caution against over-playing youngsters. Too often, kids end up as patients as a result of a growing win-at-all-costs mentality.

      Medicine is still essentially an art because our genetic structures are so individual, our motivations and willingness to participate in our own well-being so varied. How will an injured body respond? When is surgery the right answer, when is it the wrong answer? What rehabilitation will work best for whom? Sports medicine and sports psychology meet in Dr. Chandler, whose enthusiasm for sports benefits patients of all kinds. And just in case you’re tempted to forget, “quick fixes” are out, almost always.

      Baseball, like life, is a game of lots of little things. And, like life, maintaining good health (think off-season conditioning) is always better than having to fix what’s broken. So Dr. Chandler prescribes that we remember sports are meant to be fun. Enjoy. Exercise restraint and good judgment Encourage your kids to do the same. But when injury comes -- and some injuries, Dr. Chandler assures us, are unavoidable -- remember that surgeons and patients succeed together. Sounds like teamwork, doesn’t it?

      Oh, yes. Dr. Chandler is a huge baseball fan. His team? Guess.

Conversation 1

Dr. Joseph P. Chandler, Team Orthopaedist for the Atlanta Braves, tells Paula Gordon and Bill Russell about growing up a football fan! He describes learning to apply his sports medicine craft to the subtleties a baseball player experiences, and the critical role of the team Trainer.

Conversation 2

Dr. Chandler describes how athletes’ and regular people’s goals and demands differ and how that affects how he treats both kind of patient. He tells how important it is for a good sports medicine doctor to be a good sports psychologist. He emphasizes the critical role of optimism in treating severe traumas and describes what he says is the real art of medicine. He compares the roles and importance of surgery and rehabilitation. He credits the importance of genetic structure in both one’s overall condition and in healing from injuries. Everybody’s genes, Dr. Chandler assures us, were not made to withstand the stresses of being a major league baseball pitcher, and tells how this reality should be applied to kids on ball teams. He further describes the body mechanics of superb pitching and shares what his toughest challenges are in dealing with the Braves.

Conversation 3

Dr. Chandler compares the bodies of women and men athletes, both grown and young. He cautions against the hazards of focusing young people on one single sport, year ‘round. He urges people, including kids, to have fun, focus on fitness, listen to our bodies, avoid both burnout and overdoing. He bemoans too much pressure and too much emphasis on the competition side of sports, starting at a very young age. Dr. Chandler relates super competition to youngsters opting out, becoming obese. He describes his sadness over professionalizing sports for the very young and says what he thinks is more appropriate. He tells what many coaches do not want to hear about over-playing youngsters on ball teams.

Conversation 4

Dr. Chandler describes the affect of a growing pressure everywhere to win-at-all-costs and the physical price associated with this attitude. He reminds parents of how extraordinarily unlikely it is that any one kid will play professional sports. He gives high marks to the entire Atlanta Braves’ organization for never pressuring him to compromise, even when great financial rewards may be at stake for individuals or the team. He names individuals throughout the organization he considers extraordinary and suggests the advantages he thinks baseball has over other sports. He explains why the Braves’ careful scouting makes such a big difference in the caliber of players with whom he works, citing individuals. He tells what it takes to be a baseball star.

Conversation 5

Athletes tend to be extraordinarily demanding of themselves, according to Dr. Chandler who describes the consequences. Baseball is really a sport of little things, he says, and uses Greg Maddux’s pitching as an example. Dr. Chandler offers his explanation for why most Braves players are so bright, why the caliber of baseball players as human beings is very high. He points out the importance of baseball (at any skill level) having a place for people with all types of abilities and gives examples of what it takes truly to have teamwork. He recalls how much progress professional baseball has made in off-season conditioning, which he details.

Conversation 6

A doctor is only as good as the patient with whom he or she is dealing, according to Dr. Chandler. He explains what it takes for a surgeon and a patient to succeed together. He tells why it’s fun to treat professional athletes. He explains why “quick fixes” are not available in orthopedics. He urges parents and coaches to exercise restraint and good judgment and to resist taking kids’ sports too seriously. In giving advice to parents, coaches and kids, he reminds us all that sports are meant to be fun!


Lisa Taylor, Dr. Chandler’s nurse, was a great help in arranging for this very special “office visit.” She and her colleague Jo were also effective support when...

Dr. Chandler’s extraordinary skills as physician, coach and cheerleader will be further applauded this winter when Bill Russell returns to the ski fields, points his tips down hill and pushes off.

We are grateful on all counts.

Related Links:
The Atlanta Braves

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