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Friday, March 14, 2014

Round the World and Back Home

Physician Profile

Round the World and Back Home

Robert Bents, M.D., Paragon Orthopedic Center

Story by Cheri Hammons

Robert Bents, M.D. is not without stories to tell. The orthopedic surgeon’s unique background is full of world travels and life-enriching experiences, the stuff ambitious and imaginative children dream of.

He’s flown with F-16 pilots in the U.S. Air Force and served as Chief of Orthopedic Services at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He served as the team physician for a number of Air Force Academy sports teams, worked closely with Olympic athletes at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado and even cared for 30,000 troops in Kuwait during the September 11, 2001 crisis.

His adventures took him back home to Oregon in 2004 where he now practices at Paragon Orthopedic Center in Grants Pass. He specializes in arthroscopy of the knee, shoulder, hip and ankle, with most of his work relating to athletic injuries.

Bents graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1986. While there, he played his favorite sport, baseball, which in turn piqued his interest in taking care of shoulders. “As a college baseball player seeing a lot of shoulder injuries, I just thought that was something I wanted to fix.” He received his medical degree in 1990 and shortly after, served as a flight surgeon for U.S. Air Force pilots, traveling all over Asia providing medical care for a squadron of 300 troops.

His work eventually led him to China where he teamed up with a small group of doctors and nurses to provide medical attention to orphans. His team was able to perform surgery on nearly 100 children, treating birth defects such as clubfeet and extra fingers, and other ailments like deformities from diseases such as polio.

Some of the children he treated were well into their teenage years. “It’s so rewarding to see these kids and know you fixed them, that they’re able to walk with one foot in front of the other now when they never would have before.” The experience had such an impact on Bents that it inspired him to adopt a Chinese daughter. “Out of all the things I’ve ever done, that was definitely the most rewarding” he says. “I ended up adopting a child because of my job. That’s pretty unique.

His community involvement and volunteer work keep him busy on the playing field as well. He spends close to 20 hours a week coaching or training with children’s teams and plays on a men’s community baseball team himself. Since 2006 he’s been the team doctor for a number of local high schools, working with team players to monitor and repair injuries. “It’s a labor of love, I really enjoy it,” he says.

He has coached many of the kids he works with since their elementary school days. “That’s also why I love the small town feel here. I get to see these people all over the place, not just on the field.”

He talks of the rewards of seeing a child go from being upset about not being able to play sports due to an injury, to just months later running out on the field and knocking it out of the park, or scoring four touchdowns only four months after surgery. “How could there be anything better than that,” he says.

Paragon Orthopedic Center

www.paragonortho.net

541-472-0603

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