This year, for the second consecutive year, St.Vincent orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Bicos will serve as the team physician for the USA Gymnastics team during the 2010 World Championships. Bicos recently departed with the team to Rotterdam, where the competition will be underway from Oct. 12-24.
Dr. Bicosâ€™ role with the team comes with unique challenges. The acrobatic nature of gymnastsâ€™ movements puts their bodies in peril daily. When injuries do occur, itâ€™s up to Dr. Bicos to ensure the athletes take the appropriate actions to heal as quickly as possible.
â€śBecause of how young they are, they may not always quite understand the ramifications of their injuries at first,â€ť he said. â€śBut they are very motivated, and that makes my job a lot easier.â€ť
The biggest obstacle an injured gymnast faces is time. â€śWhen they get hurt, they only have a couple of weeks or months to get back to the level they were at,â€ť Dr, Bicos said. â€śSo weâ€™re under the gun to treat them very quickly.â€ť
Time constraints tighten considerably in the heat of competition. â€śYou have to make a quick assessment about whether itâ€™s something you can treat immediately, such as tape job or some type of injection, or if youâ€™ll need to assess it more carefully and actually take them out of the competition.â€ť
Itâ€™s not a job for the faint of heart. But Dr. Bicos appreciates how special it is to represent the United States as a physician. â€śThis is one of those things I really look forward to,â€ť he said. â€śIâ€™m actually pretty humbled by the whole thing. For all of us at St.Vincent, we want to help every way we can, and just be there for the athletes.â€ť
Ironically, prior to his involvement with the U.S. gymnastics team, Dr. Bicos never had much interest in gymnastics from a spectatorâ€™s perspective. But his work as team physician has converted him into a passionate fan. â€śI love it now, and Iâ€™ve come to know many of the athletes, and I tend to follow them.â€ť
And though he doesnâ€™t pick favorites, he admits to rooting hard for Indiana native and 2009 World Champion Bridget Sloan. â€śIt will be fun to watch her try to regain the crown again,â€ť he said.
Dr. James Bicos specializes in shoulder arthroscopy, general sports medicine, knee injuries and cartilage regeneration techniques. Through his relationship with St.Vincent Sports Performance, he also treats athletes in USA Track & Field and USA Diving, Park Tudor School and University High School.