5 Questions with Jim Borchers: Team Doc of the National Champion Buckeyes!

jim borchers

A VERY happy crew: Jim Borchers (center), Bob Sweeney (L) & Doug Calland (R) in Arlington, TX after the National Championship game.

Followers of this blog know that I live in Columbus, Ohio.

And most of you know what that would mean for life here the last two weeks.

Unless you are overseas and/or pay no attention to American college football–which is true for some of our readers–I don’t need to tell you that Columbus is home to the reigning, undisputed National Champions of NCAA Division 1 football:  the Ohio State University beat Oregon decisively in the game on January 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, 42 – 20.

The medical staff of that team is a group of clinicians whom I know well.  I have great admiration for the clinical and scholarly work they do.

In the aftermath of the game, I reached out to my friend, Jim Borchers, M.D., M.P.H. and asked him if would have time to share some of his thoughts on the game, the season, and a variety of other topics.  I am happy to say he said yes.

Jim is an example of that clinical and scholarly excellence I just wrote of. He is the Director of the Division of Sports Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine at OSU. He is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship there, as well.  And besides being the team physician for the football team, he takes care of men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, and lacrosse as well.

I’m happy to say he still, somehow, finds time to help out with the journal.

Now, without further adieu, here is our conversation with Dr. Borchers.


1) CJSM: I understand you were both a player for the Buckeyes when you were in college and now are one of the team physicians for the new, National Champs. Can you describe what different thoughts and emotions you have as a player for an elite team vs. those you have as a team physician.

JB: I was very fortunate to play football at Ohio State from 1989-1993.  As a player during that period, we were working very hard to try to get Ohio State back to the top of the Big 10 conference.  During my playing days, I was like my other teammates – focused on winning and performing to the best of our abilities.  During those years I experienced some great wins and some tough losses and certainly appreciated how important football was to all of the fans and alumni of Ohio State.  As a player, I always wanted to be on a championship team – one that would be remembered at Ohio State.  My senior year we were Co-champions of the Big 10 conference and finished 10-1-1 and in the top 10 in the country.  At a recent 20 year reunion honoring that team, I was reminded of how fortunate we were as a team to compete at Ohio State. Read more of this post

Genetic Testing for Sports Injuries

The recent NFC championship game proved, I think, this truth: a true champion is not dead until the final whistle blows. The Seahawks  won in dramatic fashion over the Packers, my favorite team.  As many commentators noted, Seattle played horribly for 58 minutes, but were stellar for the last two; and that was all that mattered in the end.

As a fan, my initial reaction is to think “we gave it away.”  But that is a disservice to the champions.  The Seahawks never lay down, and they seized the moment when it presented itself.

Still…..as a fan, I wonder–if Aaron Rodgers’ calf were 100%, would we have pulled away more decisively earlier in the game?  The field goals in the red zone: would they have been touchdowns instead if our quarterback had his usual mobility?


Does Rodgers carry a valuable SNP in the genes of his gastrocnemius? I hope so!

Well, we Packer fans have an offseason to think about ‘what ifs,’ and the Packers medical staff has an offseason to rehab Rodgers’ injury and think about secondary prevention.  Perhaps the Packers will want to think about doing some genetic testing as part of their assessment. Management and the medical staff may want, at least, to take a look at our lead editorial for the January 2015 issue:  “The Dawning Age of Genetic Testing for Sports Injuries.”

We have written about ‘genes’ and sports in the pages of this blog:  a very popular post last year was “The Sports Gene:  how Olympians are made (or born),” a review of David Epstein’s excellent book, The Sports Gene:  Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance. As those titles would indicate, the focus on the sports/gene intersection in those pieces was more on sports performance than sports injury.

The ‘intersection’ of sports injury and genes has come up in the pages of the CJSM journal itself:  Genetics:  Does it Play a Role in Tendinopathy? and an investigation into genotypes and the risk for concussion in college athletes  are among the offerings we’ve had on this subject in recent years.

In the January lead editorial, Gabrielle Goodlin and her co-authors from Stanford do an excellent job in a short space of reviewing a great deal of what evidence already exists in this world, as well as pointing out directions where this work may be headed. Read more of this post

Pediatric Overuse Injuries: A Closer Look


Illustration by J.C. Leyendecker, Saturday Evening Post

The ringing in of the New Year is traditionally accompanied by pictures with some variation on the theme of a new baby’s arrival.  Witness the classic Saturday Evening Post cover accompanying this post.

For intentional or serendipitous reasons, we at CJSM have a habit of doing something of the same:  for two years running now the journal has our inaugural issue of the new year highlight studies looking into the phenomenon of overuse injuries in the pediatric athlete.  Our January 2014 issue was headlined by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) position statement on overuse injuries and burnout in youth sport, a study I got to follow up with an interview with lead author and then-President of the AMSSM, UCLA’s John DiFiori!

This year, one of our ‘Original Research’ papers comes from another AMSSM member, Andrea Stracciolini, from Boston Children’s Hospital.  She is the lead author on the paper, A Closer Look at Overuse Injuries in the Pediatric Athlete.

Landing on your doorstep in January:  not a baby from a stork but a pediatric overuse study by CJSM….2015 is going to be a good year!

Dr. Stracciolini and her team primarily set out to see whether there was a true difference in overuse injuries between male and female athletes after they had controlled for several confounding variables (e.g. BMI, presence of contact/collision in the sport, team vs. individual sport, etc.) Read more of this post

Sports Ultrasound and the New Year


Chillin’ like Bob Dylan: Folly Beach, Charleston, S.C.

Happy New Year y’all!

Returning from lovely Charleston, South Carolina after a relaxing week, I’ll be able to retain a southern, laid-back lilt to my voice for perhaps a day or two more….As many of you would likely agree, there’s nothing quite as bracing as the need to attend to the post-vacation crunch of full email accounts, urgent work-inbox tasks, and full clinic days!

It certainly makes a difference to return to a job and profession one loves.  Sports medicine:  what would I do without you?

I hope you have had a chance to peruse the new, January 2015 CJSM, which is as full of excellent articles as the aforementioned inboxes.  One of the highlights of the issue is the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Position Statement on Interventional Radiology, which is currently freely available.  I hope, too, you’ve had a chance to catch the new podcast interview with Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, the lead author of the paper.

As a clinician who currently (and regretfully) does not employ sports ultrasound in my current practice, I’m always curious about those professional colleagues who do.  With that in mind, it’s time for the first poll of the year:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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