September 01, 2022
Meet Robert Brophy , MD
Sports Medicine Specialist
As a sports surgeon and former professional athlete, Dr. Brophy knows just how important it is for patients to get back to the activities (or fields) they love. He is part of our sports medicine team here at Washington University Orthopedics, and keeping professional players in peak physical form is what we do.
St. Louis CITY Soccer Club recently chose Washington University Orthopedics to serve as Team Physicians, and Dr. Brophy to serve as CITY SC Medical Director. This means you'll find him on-site at the Washington University Orthopedics High Performance Center and pitch-side on game days to asses athletes and keep them healthy.
“St. Louis is a great sports town and a great soccer town. We’re overdue to have an MLS (Major League Soccer) team here,” Dr. Brophy says. “WashU Orthopedics’ physicians and staff will provide strong support to the St. Louis CITY team. In addition to covering matches, the staff and I will make regular visits to the training center during the preseason and season to assess injured and recovering athletes."
Where are you from?
"I grew up in a suburb of Syracuse, New York. Some of the more renowned graduates of my high school are probably the actor, Richard Gere, and recent Olympic gold medalist, Breanna Stewart."
What made you choose orthopedics and sports medicine as a specialty?
"Orthopedic surgery and sports medicine were a natural extension of my experience as an athlete and my education."
After being named an all-conference soccer player while an undergraduate at Stanford University, Dr. Brophy went on to play for the California Jaguars professional soccer team in 1995 and 1996, when the team won the U.S. Inter-Regional Soccer League title. He also was a member of the Palo Alto Firebirds, the league’s national champions in 1992. "First and foremost, it will be my aim to take excellent care of the athletes — and my love of the sport will certainly add to my enjoyment of the experience.”
What brought you to Washington University Orthopedics?
"I was fortunate to attend the Washington University School of Medicine. As a medical student, Dr. Goldfarb was the resident on my first rotation in orthopedic surgery and Dr. Gelberman was the chair of the department. After completing my residency and fellowship in New York City, it was a tremendous opportunity to return to St. Louis and join Washington University Orthopedics as a junior partner to Drs. Matt Matava and Rick Wright in sports medicine. I was attracted to many aspects of the job, including the opportunity to help them take care of the St. Louis professional athlete community."
Dr. Brophy's experience with professional athletes is extensive. A team physician for the NHL’s St. Louis Blues and the St. Louis Surge of the Women’s Professional Basketball league, he also formerly worked with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and the St. Louis Athletica Women’s Professional Soccer team. He is also vice chair of the NFL Musculoskeletal Committee, which focuses on musculoskeletal issues relevant to the health and safety of active NFL players.
What aspect of your practice do you find most interesting or rewarding?
"I can genuinely say that I enjoy the various aspects of my practice equally, although for different reasons. Seeing patients in clinic, performing surgeries in the operating room, providing team care and conducting research are all interesting in different and complementary ways.
Similarly, the various aspects of our academic mission, from teaching, research and leadership in local and national organizations all provide their own satisfaction."
What's it like taking care of these elite athletes for St. Louis City Soccer Club and the St. Louis Blues?
"The medical aspect of care for these athletes is the same as it is for all of our patients: diagnosing and treating injuries as best we can. Obviously other aspects differ, including where we see and treat the athletes, the logistics of obtaining diagnostics and coordinated work with athletic trainers and other staff to deliver the best care possible."
Are you working on any interesting sports trials or studies right now?
"Most of our studies in general relate to athletes and injuries that affect athletes. My role as Vice Chair of the NFL Musculoskeletal Research Committee involves some very interesting investigations."
What’s the best advice you ever received and who/what was it from?
"Like so many others in the department, Dr. Gelberman is the source of the best advice during my career. One of the many pieces of advice that I remember is the importance of being credible rather than incredible as a key to building long term success."
What's your favorite thing to do outside of work?
"I like to travel with family and friends and still enjoy working out and exercising when time permits...I even played recreational soccer up until a few years ago. I met my wife, Jen, who also played soccer in college, at the 1994 World Cup when the USA played Brazil in Palo Alto, CA. I played minor leagues for a few years after college, winning a couple of national championships. Ten of my teammates went to the MLS and I went to med school."
If you weren't a doctor, what would you like to be doing?
"I could have have enjoyed a variety areas in the intersection of technology and business."
Anything else you would like to share?
"I met my wife Jen, who also played soccer in college, at the 1994 World Cup when the USA played Brazil in Palo Alto, CA, when soccer was still a growing sport in our country. I played minor leagues for a few years after college, winning a couple of national championships. I often say ten of my teammates went to the MLS and I went to med school and now things have come full circle in a way."
Learn more about Dr. Brophy and why patients trust WashU Ortho for their sports medicine care.