Usually, I don’t interview doctors, unless you count the times I peppered Matt at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine with a bazillion questions about my knee or the nerve-impingement in my shoulder. But last week, I found myself across the table at Vic’s from that latest doctor to join the University of Colorado’s sports medicine team.
He was excited to talk about hips. I was excited to talk about his BASE jumping habit.
Omer Mei-Dan moved to Boulder six weeks ago and joined the CU docs as their resident hip specialist, and I was curious what he’s more passionate about — helping athletes heal after injuries, or being an athlete himself.
“What I’m trying to do is run the hip preservation service,” Mei-Dan told me with a grin. “For extreme sports athletes, all around — climbers, skiers, divers, skiers. This is my main group I’m passionate to work with.”
He handed me a press kit that, in addition to discussing his clinical research on the hip joint and his work with platelet-rich plasma, included photos of the doc rock climbing in China, snowboarding in New Zealand (where he lived before moving here), jumping off a smokestack in Israel and flying through the air in a wingsuit (who knows where).
He also does triathlons. And skis, and ice climbs, and trail runs.
Is there a sport you don’t do? I asked.
“Bowling,” he said, and then paused to think harder. “Um, curling.”
“You can do that up in Nederland next winter,” I said.
Mei-Dan said he loves a challenge and enjoys doing research in new areas.
“The hip, a few years ago, when I got into it, it was one of these areas that very few people know, and very few people do,” he said, adding that a lot of doctors in sports medicine focus on the knees or shoulders. “Very few surgeons treat the hip and pelvis. It’s very difficult and very complicated.”
“The hip is something that’s a bit different, it’s a bit out there,” he said. “And this is my main passion.”
Trying to figure out whether Mei-Dan was more into sports or putting athletes back together was folly on my part. The two go hand-in-hand for him. Doing all of these sports helps him be a better doctor, he said.
“Being a sports surgeon, it’s very important to figure out the mechanism of injury,” he said. And understanding the sport, and what the athlete’s goals are — something he always asks about when he meets a patient — is essential for rehabilitation as well.
And he understands that firsthand — as both a doctor and as a patient. Right now, for example, he’s not jumping out of planes or off cliffs or desert towers because he’s recovering from a back injury and surgery. (He was out skiing two months after the surgery, even though he wasn’t really supposed to be, he said.)
Since arriving in Boulder, he, his wife and two kids are settling into their home on the Hill, where he can run trails not far out his door. “It’s spectacular, I’m doing it almost every other day.”
He’s been taking his son climbing on a regular basis, too, he said, and he’s taken both kids to Eldora a few times.
What are you excited about doing around Boulder this summer? I asked.
“Everything,” he said. “Some downhill mountain biking, some kayaking when the rivers are up, jumping, climbing — everything.”
But, he emphasized, the important thing is that he’s here to fix hips.