September 17, 2021

Shoulders, elbows, line drives and curve balls

For Eric Bowman and Leon Scott, being team physicians for the Nashville Sounds is a perfect complement to taking care of their other patients

Eric Bowman, left, and Leon Scott are VUMC orthopaedic surgeons who are also team doctors for the Nashville Sounds.

Orthopaedic surgeons by day, physicians for the Nashville Sounds by night.

That’s the routine for Eric Bowman, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Leon Scott, MD, Sports Medicine provider, both physicians for the Sounds baseball team, the Triple-A affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers.

In addition to seeing and treating elite athletes, Bowman and Scott also still see their usual patients in clinic. This means they must diligently balance their time and expertise between the two groups.

Bowman, head orthopaedist for the Sounds, and Scott, head physician for the Sounds, are responsible for keeping track of athletes’ injuries and partnering with the team’s athletic trainers to rehabilitate injured athletes — from scheduling X-rays and MRIs to treating athletes and creating step-by-step recovery plans for their safe return to the field.

The most common injuries Bowman and Scott see from the Nashville Sounds players are of the shoulder and elbow, such as rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis and ligament strains.

“Our Sounds athletes have a unique set of injuries, and we have unique ways to approach them,” Bowman said. “I enjoy treating the whole player, not just the shoulder or elbow. Often, these injuries can be treated non-operatively by addressing other areas like the core, the lower extremities and the patient’s flexibility and balance.”

“Being able to give people their knees or shoulders back and give them the opportunity to do the things they love again are the most rewarding parts of our work.”

One of Bowman’s biggest challenges is encouraging athletes of all levels — from children to professional players — to take time off for proper rest and recovery periods. He believes that there was an increase of injuries this season after a lack of pre-season preparations, which were halted due to COVID-19.

The thing Scott says he is most proud of during his time with the Sounds is creating a network of non-orthopaedic VUMC physicians to whom he can easily refer athletes and their families. He credits these doctors, nurses and care teams for their flexibility when it comes to working with him, Bowman, and the Sounds team.

“We recognize that clinicians have their own schedules and patients to take care of, and we appreciate their abilities and willingness to care for the Sounds,” Scott said. “For example, we’ve called on pediatricians, Ob-Gyns, emergency department physicians and primary care providers to care for the players’ families.

“VUMC cardiology, otolaryngology, radiology, infectious disease experts, walk-in clinics and inpatient hospitalist teams have played roles in caring for the Sounds players this season, too,” he added. “VUMC is uniquely positioned to provide this level of care in a timely manner. It is a clear example of the power of our collaborative care.”

Whether Bowman and Scott are caring for a person from the Nashville community or a player only one step away from the big leagues, relationship building is most important.

“Whether it’s an athlete trying to get back on the field, or a grandparent trying to get back to playing with their grandkids again, most people who see us are missing out on something in life,” Bowman said.

“Being able to give people their knees or shoulders back and give them the opportunity to do the things they love again are the most rewarding parts of our work.”