Dr. James E. Voos helps athletes heal and feel their best on and off the field
UH Innovations in Orthopaedics - Spring 2018
JAMES E. VOOS, MD
Interim Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Division Chief, Sports Medicine and Medical Director, UH Sports Medicine Institute, UH Cleveland Medical Center, Head Team Physician, The Cleveland Browns
During football season, you'll usually find James E. Voos, MD, standing on the sidelines at a Cleveland Browns game, ready to treat injuries for some of the most elite athletes in the world.
While it's exciting to have a front row seat at prime-time NFL games, Dr. Voos enjoys watching the “Friday night lights” just as much.
“I bring my son along,” he says of the high school football games he attends. “As a sports medicine doctor, you have to be involved in the community. It's a pleasure to see a patient I've treated for an ACL injury, for example, get safely back out on the field.”
As Head Team Physician for the Cleveland Browns, Dr. Voos not only attends every game, but also training camp and the NFL Scouting Combine, where he medically evaluates prospective players. He and his team also conduct annual physicals for the entire Browns organization, coaches and staff included.
Partnering with the team’s head trainer and other specialists, Dr. Voos doesn't just treat injuries. He ensures athletes stay healthy year-round.
“We take a comprehensive approach, focusing on an athlete's total wellness,” he says. “Game day is the exciting time everyone sees, but so much work goes on behind the scenes.”
Although caring for the Browns sounds like a full-time job, Dr. Voos also treats high school and college athletes, recreational adult athletes and weekend warriors at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.
“We have a wide range of pediatric and adult specialists,” says Dr. Voos, who serves as Interim Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Division Chief of the Sports Medicine department at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, as well as Medical Director of the UH Sports Medicine Institute. “This allows us to personalize a program to meet teams' or individuals' needs.”
Doctors and athletic trainers at all levels of sport have placed greater importance on concussion awareness, prevention and treatment. According to the Brain Injury Research Institute, about 10 percent of all contact sport athletes sustain concussions annually.
Dr. Voos and a team of UH concussion experts are working to lower that number. Rule changes, such as establishing safe ways to tackle, and changes in practice habits, such as less hitting during weekday practices, have already reduced concussion risk, he says. “We're also looking at newer helmet designs and whether they change the level of concussion,” he adds.
At the youth level, Dr. Voos encourages coaches to make sure kids use properly fitted equipment to lessen concussion occurrences. When an athlete does suffer a concussion, the University Hospitals Concussion Management Program, an integrated multidisciplinary network of specialists, helps athletes get back in the game safely. “We provide cognitive evaluations to identify kids with concussions sooner and find the right treatment path,” he says.
Dr. Voos stays involved in research outside of contact sports, as well. Working with experts from University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, he received a grant to research the use of stem cells for treatment of early arthritis and focal chondral knee defects. “This is a great example of how the Sports Medicine Institute and UH collaborates,” he says. “Two different specialties can share science and develop new technologies to take care of people.”
AT HOME IN CLEVELAND
Dr. Voos joined UH in 2014, leaving his native Kansas City, Kansas, where he worked at the Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic of Kansas City. There, he served as an assistant physician for the Kansas City Chiefs and Head Physician for the Kansas City Ballet. Before that, Dr. Voos spent six years working in orthopaedic surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, where he gained pro sports experience working with the New York Giants and the New York Liberty women's NBA team.
When Dr. Voos was offered the opportunity to run the UH Sports Medicine Institute, he found it hard to say no. Even better, his wife, a neonatologist, saw positive possibilities at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Kristin Voos, MD, now serves as Director of Neonatal Family Centered Care, UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.
“It was an easy sell to come to Cleveland,” Dr. James Voos says.
Considering his passion for both treating athletes and keeping them healthy, he made the right move.
“It's so stimulating to have this environment of providing athletic care, advancing research and watching sports on a regular basis,” he says.
“It's easy to get up and go to work. I'm privileged to be part of this team.”