He had his share as a Division I pitcher at Saint Louis University and later in the Oakland A’s organization.
Now, as Paducah’s only fellowship-trained arthroscopic surgeon, Brian Kern, M.D., treats plenty of them, too.
During his training at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute in Los Angeles, he performed nearly 1,000 surgeries on professional, college and high school athletes.
In Paducah since 2009, he spends most fall Friday nights on high school football fields and most Saturday mornings treating the injured.
It’s a job he loves. He originally planned to be a physical therapist to help rehabilitate athletes but decided midway through college that he wanted to be a physician. “In orthopedics, patients are generally in good health but experience a life-altering injury or disease. Whether it’s an arthroscopic tendon repair, joint replacement or repair of a broken bone, I can drastically improve the patient’s life, which is very rewarding.”
An athlete himself, he can identify with hurt players eager to return to their team. “They’re in pain, and they’re scared. It’s a great feeling to be able to fix their problem and watch them return to their sport.”
How sports training helps others
His work is not limited to athletes. “The arthroscopic and minimally invasive surgical training I had applies to all patients. Some of my most rewarding work is shoulder replacements, total or partial knee replacements, carpal tunnel surgery and other procedures for patients 30 to 80 years old.”
Dr. Kern is happy to be in western Kentucky. He grew up on a cattle and grain farm in southern Illinois, and his wife grew up on a farm in southeast Missouri. When he was ready to go into medical practice, he thought nearby Paducah needed his services. “Most of our athletes were leaving the area for basic sports medicine care.”
And it was close to his two preschoolers’ grandparents! Besides, he liked what he found here. “Paducah has a strong medical community, excellent school system, culture and plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities.”
Spending most of his time as a busy physician and as a dad, he finds a little time for golf (“I’m not very good,” he said) and deer bow-hunting.
Advice from the expert
And then there are those ballgames, where he likes to give advice to budding athletes. “Addressing problems early can prevent life-long problems. Most arm problems in major league pitchers can be traced back to Little League, so all athletes should train for their sport ahead of time, slowly working up by about 10 percent a week. Always stretch and mix up your training regime. For example, runners should take a day off every week and should cross train instead of running every day.”
Good advice from the expert, for the youngsters as well as the older weekend warriors.
Get to know Dr. Kern better through these videos: