About Richard Stead­man

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Meyer

and things no one else was do­ing. Through that he got the feed­back he needed that th­ese ideas worked.”

The right in­tu­itions

Stead­man learned his in­tu­ition was right. Mo­tion af­ter surgery pro­moted heal­ing. His ski racing pa­tients helped him prove his the­o­ries were sound.

“Most physi­cians don’t have what I had, which was a group of peo­ple that were to­tally mo­ti­vated, they weren’t mak­ing any money, they were just mo­ti­vated and they wanted to be the best,” Stead­man said. “If I told them to jump off the roof, they would do it. But I learned from them. They would come up with things that went be­yond what I had told them they could do. Their ath­letic in­tu­ition was help­ful.”

In 1990 Stead­man was lured here by former Vail As­so­ci­ates owner Ge­orge Gil­lett and Nel­son, then Vail’s direc­tor of ski­ing. They en­ticed him by promis­ing sup­port for re­search in a foun­da­tion known to­day as the Stead­man Philip­pon Re­search In­sti­tute.

Stead­man pi­o­neered mi­crofrac­ture tech­niques which uti­lize the body’s heal­ing prop­er­ties to re­place dam­aged ar­tic­u­lar knee car­ti­lage — which does not re­gen­er­ate — with fi­brous car­ti­lage that can per­form the same func­tion. Stead­man didn’t re­al­ize it at the time, but it worked be­cause the body’s stem cells pro­duced the fi­brous car­ti­lage fol­low­ing the mi­crofrac­ture.

Through that he dis­cov­ered that by us­ing the “heal­ing re­sponse” tech­nique, torn ACLs some­times reat­tach to the bone by them­selves with­out hav­ing to su­ture them, al­low­ing an ath­lete to re­sume train­ing much ear­lier. He tried that on Bode Miller af­ter he blew out a knee at the 2001 world cham­pi­onships. A year later at the Salt Lake City Games, Miller claimed his first Olympic medal.

“I rec­og­nized that lig­a­ments didn’t just go away, that if they were torn close to the bone, some­times they par­tially healed,” said Stead­man, who re­tired in 2014. “The same tech­nique I used to form car­ti­lage at the end of the bone, if I used that pro­ce­dure in the area where the lig­a­ments at­tached — and cre­ated an en­vi­ron­ment where the lig­a­ment could ac­cept the heal­ing process that I’d cre­ated — I could (avoid) the full re­con­struc­tion.”

The Grate­ful Steady rac­ers com­mis­sioned a $100,000 bronze bust of Stead­man, which they un­veiled last week. One will be on dis­play at the clinic in Vail, another at U.S. Ski Team head­quar­ters in Utah. They more than cov­ered the cost with do­na­tions, rais­ing an ex­tra $50,000 for the re­search in­sti­tute.

“I don’t think he ever re­ally un­der­stood his ge­nius, or re­al­ized how unique it was,” Nel­son said. “And he’s so hum­ble that when we com­pli­ment him or ask him about his gifts or his ge­nius, he down­plays it. But we all know we had the bless­ing to be treated by truly one of the great physi­cians of all time. It was a mag­i­cal time for us. And for the U.S. Ski Team.”

In ad­di­tion to her Olympic medal, Cooper won three world cham­pi­onships medals in a ca­reer that spanned 1977-84.

“I couldn’t have won any of those medals with­out Richard Stead­man,” Cooper said. “End of story.” John Meyer: jmeyer@den­ver­post.com or @john­meyer Born: 1937 in Sher­man, Texas Ed­u­ca­tion: Bach­e­lor’s of sci­ence, Texas A&M, 1959; med­i­cal de­gree, Univer­sity of Texas South­west­ern, 1963 Army (drafted): 1966-70, pri­mar­ily sta­tioned in Germany Or­tho­pe­dic prac­tice: 197090 in Lake Ta­hoe, Calif., 1990-2014 in Vail

From left, former U.S. Ski Team ath­letes Deb­bie Arm­strong, Christin Cooper, Ta­mara McK­in­ney, Cindy Nel­son and Eva Twar­do­kens with their Olympic and world cham­pi­onships medals pose with Dr. Richard Stead­man at a cel­e­bra­tion in his honor last week­end in Vail. Cour­tesy of Shane Ma­comber Pho­tog­ra­phy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.