Watching Kerri Walsh-Jennings win her third Olympic gold medal makes it tough to imagine that her career nearly ended only a year ago. A dislocated shoulder and severely damaged rotator cuff seemed like the end of the road for the pro volleyball player. After undergoing several unsuccessful treatments, Walsh-Jennings heard about a Mission Viejo-based orthopedic surgeon specializing in tough cases. The result: a gold medal.
Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh-Jennings
Dr. William E. Schobert calls himself a revisionist. “I see people who’ve had surgery and it hasn’t worked.”
Specializing in knees and shoulders (not including joint replacements), Schobert has spent more than a decade providing care for Walsh-Jennings (pictured), as well as for Misty May-Treanor, her volleyball partner and fellow gold medalist. In the not-too-distant past, these types of injuries would’ve ended an athlete’s career, says Schobert.
“Today, surgery is much more precise and techniques are much better,” he says. “Plus, we take into account a person’s individual body structure, which determines the best approach.”
New rehab techniques also allow patients to heal more quickly and keep muscle atrophy to a minimum.
Other than Schobert, few people ever knew that Walsh-Jennings had suffered an injury. Her surgeries and rehab efforts were not reported in the press for privacy reasons.
“We kept it quiet,” says Schobert. “Athletes often don’t even want their partners to know.”
If Walsh-Jennings’ competitors had learned that she’d had surgery on her right shoulder, they might have gone out of their way to hit the ball to her right side, forcing her to dive on that bad shoulder, says Schobert. Only recently has Walsh-Jennings allowed the media to discuss her injury.
Schobert notes that his office is not the first stop for anyone with an injury. As an out-of-network physician, he typically sees patients who have been through surgery and rehab yet still have problems. Patients include both athletes and non-athletes.
“When I treat a patient, I look at what may become a problem down the road,” Schobert says. “In Kerri Walsh’s case, I knew she needed to make it to the podium, not fourth or fifth place.” drschobert.com
William E. Schobert, M.D.
26010 Acero St. Suite 100
Mission Viejo; 949.768.5000