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  • Move Forward Radio: Physician for Redskins, Nationals Says Teamwork On and Off the Field Is Key

    Robin West, MD, is an orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon who has "always believed in" collaborative care—both as a physician and as a patient.

    In addition to her role as medical director of the Sports Medicine Institute at Inova, a large health system based in the Washington, DC, area, West is head team physician for the Washington Redskins and lead physician for the Washington Nationals. Recently, West was a guest on Move Forward Radio, APTA's consumer-oriented podcast series from MoveForwardPT.com.

    As head physician for 2 professional sports teams, West leads the medical teams on the sidelines and in the clubhouse. The 29 game-day health care providers for the Washington Redskins include physicians, physical therapists, and athletic trainers, to name a few.

    In the interview, West describes her own experience as a patient recovering from a bicycle accident in which she was unconscious for more than 6 minutes and sustained a 4-part humeral fracture. "I had a lot of injuries," West told Move Forward Radio. "I connected with [my whole health care team] at some point…. It takes a village, really, to reach this maximum in performance. I've not only witnessed it, but I've always believed in it."

    West acknowledged that typical hospital patients don't have the same quick return-to-play treatment or rehabilitation as the professional athletes she works with, due to time or financial constraints. But regardless of setting, she observes, "[Patients] are the consumers, and we have to serve them and serve them well." West advises patients to be strong self-advocates in their health care. "They really have to fight for their care and make sure they are educated about their options," she said, whether that means getting a second opinion, asking about alternative treatment strategies, or reading up on their conditions online.

    In the podcast, West cautions patients to avoid a "quick-fix" mentality when it comes to their health care. Surgery is "not always the right answer" and "has substantial risks." With surgery, she notes, "We're trying to restore your function, we're not trying to improve your function." Physical therapy, especially early on, is what "improves that function," West says.

    While surgical outcomes have improved a lot over the years, observes West, "I think surgery hasn't really changed—it's the rehabilitation techniques. It's a combination, a team approach, that's improved the outcomes."

    APTA members are encouraged to alert their patients and clients to the radio series and other MoveForwardPT.com resources to help educate the public about the benefits of treatment by a physical therapist. Ideas for future episodes and other feedback can be emailed to consumer@apta.org.

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