Anderson gives all athletes a leg up at Bellin Titletown
By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – No matter who you are rooting for in the NBA Finals, one area doctor probably knows more than the talking heads when it comes to some of the players on the court.
Dr. Bob Anderson, director of foot and ankle for Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, is in a class all his own when it comes to working with world-class athletes.
Strictly regulated by HIPPA, Anderson can’t release the names of the stars he has worked on, but that hasn’t stopped those players from talking to the media about Anderson’s prowess.
Sports Illustrated has linked Anderson to working with Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Derek Jeter and Cam Newton.
Other media outlets have reported Anderson working with John Wall, Francisco Lindor, Richard Sherman, Eric Berry, Joey Bossa, Pau Gasol, and the list goes on across all four major sports.
“I do the best I can trying to get guys back to what they were like prior to injury, extend their careers and my name doesn’t need to be out in the press,” Anderson said.
While not working on patients in Titletown, Anderson stays busy with improving sports.
He is an assistant team physician for the Green Bay Packers and co-chair of the NFL’s Musculoskeletal Committee, overseeing all orthopedic injuries and research in professional football.
Anderson also previously served as the chairman of the Foot and Ankle Subcommittee for the NFL.
Couple his experience with the fact that Titletown is a short drive from Austin Straubel International Airport and the five-star Lodge Kohler is only a parking lot away from Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, it’s no wonder why future hall of famers choose to get repaired in the Green Bay area.
A Wauwatosa area high school graduate in 1975, and state water polo champion, Anderson did his undergraduate work at the University of Mississippi, before coming to the Wisconsin Medical College in Milwaukee.
After Milwaukee, Anderson went to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was the chief of Foot and Ankle Service at the Carolinas Medical Center and team orthopedist to the Carolina Panthers from 2000 to 2017.
“Ever since I’ve been doing this since the early ’90s, it’s been a tremendous evolution in how the athlete trains, how long the season extends for,” Anderson said. “For example, NFL participation used to be part-time, it was the football year and you didn’t have anything after the last game of the year.”
Now, and not just in football, Anderson said athletes train year-round, and with a more intensive work regimen comes more intensive injuries.
Sports medicine has kept up to the demand, however, thanks in part to a progressive field of research.
“Our ability to diagnose problems has improved, the opportunities in surgery to repair something have certainly improved, medications, some of the things they were doing years ago we don’t do now, we don’t do injections, we don’t do Toradol. Some of the things they were using liberally in the past they don’t do today,” Anderson said.
In the 1950s, a sports doctor might have prescribed a switch to light beer and cigarettes to lose weight and help ankle pain. Anderson now looks at everything from the ground up, literally.
In his work with the NFL, every team now has a scanner that evaluates players’ feet. From that scan players can then select certain shoes that meet those exact measurements.
Anderson views the right fitting shoe as a piece of equipment that prevents injuries just like shoulder pads.
After the fit is perfect, players then select the proper cleat length based on the playing surface for that week.
Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics has the same setup at its clinic for patients.
“Medicine is constantly changing, the technology is constantly improving,” Anderson said. “I think where medicine and sports interact is that those of us involved are truly trying to make it safer for athletes to participate. Whether it’s trying to work with the league in reducing injures to the lower extremities, or concussions, or shoulder injuries, all those kinds of things, good sterility in the training rooms, playing surfaces being prepared correctly. There’s so much interaction now between the business of sports and the medical providers, that’s why we have these medical committees now serving within the league.”
One major change that Anderson noticed is how players come to him.
Years ago it used to be the team that would contact the doctors. Now in the age of player empowerment, the agents are the ones booking doctors for visits.
“It’s not unusual for me to get four or five different texts a day from agents, asking about this guy or that guy,” Anderson said.
But what Anderson said he really loves about his job is when he gets to work with athletes who don’t have professional representation.
For example, Anderson said a high school athlete could be in line for a scholarship to college.
He said that athlete needs to be at his or her best, because for that player, the stakes are just as big as a professional looking for a max contract extension.
“The high school athlete trying to get a college scholarship, the college athlete trying to get in the professional level, it’s the professional level trying to get that big free agent contract or extend his playing career,” he said. “So every level of athlete has different demands, different needs. But just because somebody is in high school doesn’t mean they’re not as important as the professional.”
At Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, Anderson said it doesn’t matter if someone is a weekend warrior on the softball diamond or starting in the NBA Finals, everyone gets the same world-class treatment.
“You don’t have this almost anywhere else in the country,” Anderson said. “When a guy comes in we can get all of those things done right here, there’s no delay. We’re diagnosing things earlier and to a better, more sophisticated degree.”
An injured local athlete could check in at the injury clinic in Titletown, get a diagnosis from a trainer, receive an evaluation for surgery or no surgery, either get the surgical work done or not done (surgeries are done at Bellin Hospital), get connected with a physical therapist and start the rehabilitation process, all under one roof.
“When somebody comes here, regardless of what their age is or their level of athletic participation, we want to give them the best of care, to get the best outcome both short-term and long-term,” Anderson said.