The injury tally continues to rise in Sochi, especially on some of the more dangerous, extreme-style downhill events. The grimmest and most terrifying moment of these Olympics came on Saturday, when a freestyle cross skier, Maria Komissarova, broke a vertebra and dislocated her back, leading to an emergency airlift to Germany for multiple orthopedic surgeries.

She is hardly alone. Numerous reports have noted the high numbers for these games, including concussions, knee injuries and plenty of falls:

Norway’s Helene Olafsen had to drop out after she suffered what has been initially reported as a knee injury. Worse still, American Jackie Hernandez will also be withdrawing after taking a fierce blow to the head. During her qualifying run, Hernandez was knocked completely unconscious after a violent impact with the snow. She regained consciousness a few minutes later, and was attempting to speak with the medics who had rushed to her aid. She was taken down the mountain on her own power, but was very unstable on her feet.

As the former Chief of Sports Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, I have spent much of my career tending to athletes and the injuries they incur from pushing the limits. But here in San Diego, orthopedic surgery is just as likely to be indicated for everyday shoulder injuries, knee injuries, and wrist and elbow injuries. The process is the same in either case: careful diagnosis, expert orthopedic surgery when indicated, followed by vigorous and supportive rehabilitation that takes the entire patient’s needs into account.

Such tools are readily available at San Diego Orthopedic Surgery center. Ms. Komissarova is receiving such care in Germany.


Stanford University, that perennial hotbed of innovation, does not discover all of its new ideas in the computer lab. As a recent New York Times profile makes clear, Stanford has also developed one of the most unusual strength and conditioning programs in the country for college football players.

The program prizes flexibility over brute strength and mobility over locked bodies. The goal of strength coach Shannon Turley is to minimize injuries and enhance practical strength. But does it work?

From 2006, the year before Turley arrived on the Farm, as Stanford’s campus is known, through last season, the number of games missed because of injury on the two-deep roster dropped by 87 percent. In 2012, only two Cardinal players required season-ending or postseason surgical repair; this year, only one.

The science behind this approach is based largely on stretching, on deep and symmetrical strength exercises, and even on yoga. Plus there’s this:

Turley pays particular attention to his players’ Functional Movement Screen scores. The F.M.S. is a durability index, what Turley calls “a predictive, quantitative analysis of quality of movement.” That is the first test he conducts. It evaluates seven movements and scores players as balanced, functional, overpowered, dysfunctional and injury prone. It shows if a player executes a movement better with his left leg than his right, pointing out asymmetries.

It is a smart approach that has cut down on the sorts of knee surgeries and shoulder surgeries which can plague NFL prospects long before they ever hit the big time. As a San Diego orthopedic surgeon who has spent a lot of time with professional sports teams, I can attest that there is no substitute for enhancing the body’s natural ability to flex and twist without injury. Plus gaining a berth in the Rose Bowl isn’t too shabby either.

If you’d like to learn more about sports injuries, sports surgery and how to maintain an active life, please don’t hesitate to contact the sports medicine experts here today.

© 2023 Dr. Robert Afra – San Diego Orthopedic Surgery Shoulder – Knee – Elbow