Seeing sports from a new perspective

March 21, 2019

Dr. Shane Kibbe was playing quarterback for John Hopkins University in his senior season when a lineman picked up a fumble after the handoff. Dr. Kibbe tackled the player – and felt his own shoulder pop out and then back into place. That injury, along with an ACL tear in his knee his senior year of high school, sparked Dr. Kibbe’s interest in orthopedics and sports medicine.

Now an orthopedic surgeon with Clark Orthopedic & Spine a Clark Memorial Health practice since September 2018, Dr. Kibbe helps patients (both athletes and non-athletes) get back to the important things in their lives after an injury.

“Having been a patient, I can understand patients’ perspectives,” Dr. Kibbe says. “There’s a lot of studies that show how a patient’s mindset changes in terms of an injury depending on what stage of life you’re in. If you’re a high school athlete, sports might be the most important thing to you, and you want to get back to playing. If you’re 30 and you need to go to work tomorrow to provide for your family, your mindset is different. It’s important to assess that with the patient and formulate a plan that will best treat them, not just treat the injury.”

Originally from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home of the Little League World Series, Dr. Kibbe completed his residency at the University of Louisville. He then completed a yearlong fellowship under the head team physician of the Cincinnati Reds before starting at Clark.

“It was a different side of things seeing professional athletes versus high school, college or recreational athletes,” Dr. Kibbe says. “I got to see the full spectrum of athletic injuries and take care of people from the highest level to the lowest level.”

Tommy Johns and beyond

Dr. Kibbe sees patients ranging from around ages 2 to 98 with general orthopedic problems such as arthritis, fractures, or hip replacements, but he is also skilled in ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, better known as Tommy Johns surgery. The tearing of this ligament inside the elbow famously strikes baseball pitchers, but other types of athletes are also at risk: Dr. Kibbe often sees the injury in gymnasts, cheerleaders, volleyball players, and wrestlers.

“You see this surgery happening at younger and younger ages,” Dr. Kibbe says. “A lot of kids play on multiple teams or traveling teams, and so maybe a baseball player has been playing multiple games and one coach doesn’t know he pitched yesterday, so he pitches him again. Kids and college players a lot of times don’t always have the best mechanics, and that plays a role too.”

Young pitchers can also be swayed by intense drills found online, such as weighted ball throwing, that encourage athletes to throw as hard as possible to increase speed or velocity. “Everybody gets hung up on how fast or hard they can throw, but doing things like that puts a lot of stress on your elbow and shoulders, especially if you don’t have the proper form,” Dr. Kibbe says. “A lot of other factors go into increasing pitch velocity or speed rather than just throwing as hard as you can. For young overhead throwers, proper form and maintenance is more important.

“If you go to spring training or spend time in a professional therapy room, you’ll see all these big, strong pitchers using 5-pound dumbbells or resistance bands for shoulder exercises. They’re not in there throwing around 35- or 40-pound dumbbells because that will be a detriment to their shoulder.”

Dr. Kibbe also advises focusing on maintenance and proper warm-ups for athletes who are further along in life, whether they’re ‘weekend warriors’ or just playing an occasional pickup game.

“We see a lot of muscle strains, ankle sprains and things that don’t need surgery, but everybody thinks they can do what they did when they were 18,” he says. “But that kind of stuff changes when you get older.”

A fan outside the doctor’s office

When he isn’t helping patients get back into the swing of things, Dr. Kibbe follows Penn State college football, the Indianapolis Colts, English premier league soccer, and more so since his fellowship, the Reds. He might even get the inside scoop on the team from the MLB physician he trained under, Dr. Kremchek.

“I was actually just talking to Dr. Kremchek the other day, and he was out at spring training,” Dr. Kibbe says. “He said he thinks they might be a little better this year, so I’ll have to tune in and see if that’s true.”

Dr. Kibbe is seeing patients in New Albany, Jeffersonville and Scottsburg. Call 800.424.DOCS to schedule an appointment.