Jed Kuhn, MD, Kenneth D. Schermerhorn Professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, and Paul Rummo, MD, also a Vanderbilt orthopaedics expert, are the head team physicians for the NHL’s
Nashville Predators. With help from neuropsychologist Gary Solomon, PhD, and specialists in emergency medicine, plastic surgery, ophthalmology and dentistry, they keep Nashville’s beloved hockey stars healthy and ready to perform at their best. Kuhn describes what the life of a Preds team doctor is like.
What does a team physician do?
A team physician is available for the players, their families, the coaches and front office staff to help them with whatever medical needs they may have. He or she will do pre-season physicals, a post-season physical, and be available for any illnesses or injuries occurring during the course of the season. We generally are available during games, as that is when injuries are most likely to occur.
How did you become a Predators team physician?
When Vanderbilt negotiated with the Predators 10 years ago to be the team’s official health care provider, I volunteered to be the head team physician, with Paul Rummo. Prior to this, I was the head team physician for the University of Michigan ice hockey team, and the USA National Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
When in the season do you start working with the team?
The season really is year-round. We have development and conditioning camps in early July for young prospects. The rookie camp is in early September. The regular camp starts about a week later. The regular season begins in October and runs through April, and then playoffs begin.
Do you go to practices? Do you travel with the team?
As team physicians, we are available 24/7. We do not generally attend practices. Most injuries occur during games. We cover every home game during the regular season including the visiting teams as well. This is something that is across the entire league, so it reduces the travel burden on physicians. While not required, I usually will fly with the team to a few regular-season away games for fun. When the playoffs begin, we do travel with the teams.
What’s the most common medical issue the players experience?
Players get the same medical problems that most people get: colds, flu, GI distress (stomach ailments). The close environment of the players can lead to some interesting medical problems as well. A few years ago, the NHL had a mumps epidemic. Sleep deprivation is common in hockey players.