“Orthopaedic Sports Medicine is a fascinating and constantly changing field”
Over the last 30 years, Mahlon Bradley, MD, has been part of a dramatic evolution in the world of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine that has seen the specialty transform from a place on the sidelines to one of the key players in the field.
“When I first became an orthopaedic surgeon, sports medicine was not highly-regarded,” he observed. “Even the American Journal of Sports Medicine was dismissed.”
But that was then. Today, sports medicine is a fast-growing field in orthopaedics that is highly valued for providing the kind of expert education that helps keep athletes safe, and for the high level of care provided injured athletes.
“Opinions changed when it became clear that sports medicine benefitted all athletes – from youth leagues, to high school, college and even at the Olympic level,” Dr. Bradley said. “Having trained physicians who could provide the right diagnosis and the kind of effective care that gets athletes safely back into the game earned the medical world’s respect.”
The next major evolution in the field of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine took place in surgery, he said, where great advancements in surgical technique – driven by science – enabled better outcomes for patients with sports injuries.
“A good example is the anterior cruciate ligament,” Dr. Bradley continued. “We gained a better understanding of how it functioned and the impact of injury on the ligament. This knowledge improved surgical technique and even physical therapy and rehabilitation following surgery. The outcome was better care for the athlete.”
And looming on the horizon is the next frontier for sports medicine – orthobiologics – a process by which orthopaedic surgeons will use substances such as stem cells to help injuries heal more quickly. “That’s the future for sports medicine,” Dr. Bradley said. “It’s evolvement and use will happen in the next generation of practitioners.”
A graduate of Harvard College and Northwestern University Medical School, Dr. Bradley is board certified in Orthopaedic Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. “I was always very involved in sports and wanted a profession that would fit into my life,” he said. “I’m fascinated by this always-changing field and the great impact it has on athletes of all ages and levels. It’s great that my day-to-day profession is so closely aligned with what I love to do.”
A national competitive figure skater from 1969 to 1978 and a member of the US International Figure Skating Team from 1976 to 1977, Dr. Bradley combined his love of figure skating and sports medicine after obtaining his medical degree. He served as the team physician for the US Olympic Team in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and has been the team physician for US Figure Skating from 1989 to the present – a tenure that brought him to events all over the country and world.
Dr. Bradley joined Berkshire Orthopaedic Associates in 2017 to help the practice expand orthopaedic care to patients in North Berkshire communities. He is also in on the ground floor of the next evolution in his life – helping Berkshire Medical Center develop a comprehensive sports medicine program that offers education about how to prevent sports injuries and provides expert care and treatment for athletes who have been injured.
“Orthopaedic Sports Medicine is a challenging and constantly evolving field and I love it,” he said. “It’s kept me going for more than 30 years.”