CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Twenty years ago a wide receiver in Green Bay had a mysterious toe injury, and Dr. Bob Anderson thought he could help.
“It turned out to be a turf toe injury,” Dr. Anderson said. “It’s one of the first times turf toe made the headlines. And nobody understood what a turf toe or a big toe sprain was.”
Dr. Anderson didn’t just understand turf toe. He fixed it when no one else could. And now almost every foot and ankle problem in big time sports comes to OrthoCarolina in Charlotte for relief.
“Almost on a daily basis somebody’s here almost every day of the week, whether it’s for surgery or just for consultation,” he added.
Recent patients include former Davidson star Steph Curry, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
“Fortunately I don’t eat lunch. So we try to see them always at lunch time," Anderson said with a smile. “Or at the end of the day we can spend a lot of time, quality time with them.”
That “quality time” means he’s so well respected he gets 10 FedEx packages a week. The scans and X-rays inside belong to patients in the NFL, NBA—you name it.
He helps them all with one reward in mind.
“Just seeing guys back out there. You watch a big game like the Super Bowl or you’re watching some all star game or a World Series, and you think back. ‘You know, I think I operated on that guy three, four, five years ago.’ One of my sons says, ‘Yeah, Dad, you did.’”
Anderson’s paternal instincts seem to kick into high gear for one of Charlotte’s own. Curry continues to battle ankle issues after Dr. Anderson performed reconstructive surgery last year.
“Usually the first year after surgery is…that’s a little touch and go, a little rough. I know he’s going through a lot of things right now. But he’ll get better. I know he will,” Dr. Anderson said.
He’s also sure about this: His work with shoemakers will change what athletes put on their feet. And many of his patients won’t have to come back to Charlotte. He’s already traveled to Nike headquarters as part of his work with the NFL.
“If it’s just nothing more than stiffening the bottom of a shoe to do it, then that’s… we won,” said Dr. Anderson. “And then we have to go and convince places like Nike and Under Armour to make a shoe that fits into the criteria to prevent these injuries. And of course, that’s our next hurdle.”
Someday soon he’ll watch a game on TV and his son will say, “Yeah, Dad. You prevented that guy from ever having a foot injury.”
And that’s all the reward Dr. Bob Anderson will need.