The American Medical Center is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Ponce as the Chief of Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery. As a surgical fellow at the world famous Andrews Clinic in Birmingham Alabama, Dr. Ponce trained with some of the world’s best sports surgeons. Dr. Ponce specializes in sports medicine and has treated numerous professional athletes. He is the founder of the Latin American Sports Medicine Institute and will play an integral role in launching AMC’s very own Sports Medicine Institute.
Q. Tell us about the fellowship program at the Andrews Clinic.
Dr. Ponce: I completed the fellowship at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center/American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMOC/ASMI), under the leadership of Dr James R. Andrews in 2005-2006.
During the program, fellows and faculty work side-by-side in all aspects of patient care, conducting research and attending lectures led by both national and internationally known surgeons.
Extensive time is spent learning and using the latest protocols for rehabilitation of sports medicine injuries. One emphasis of the program was the importance of the patient, physical therapist, and physician seeing the patient as a team post-surgery so they can effectively monitor their progress.
Q. What makes the program so special?
Dr. Ponce: ASMOC/ASMI fellowship is one of the most complete and prestigious Orthopedic Sports Medicine Fellowship within the USA. During my stay as a fellow, I met and treated a numerous world famous baseball, basketball, soccer, WWE, and tennis athletes. This fellowship program is so special that graduates become confident on how to treat and recover these pro-athletes to the same previous, or higher level.
Q. How do you think this type of fellowship program could help doctors in China?
Dr. Ponce: One of the goals that we have in mind for AMC Shanghai’s SportsMedicine Institute is to create and nurture well-educated fellows in sports medicine; in other words, “a sports medicine doctor can’t leave a better legacy to the world than well-educated fellows.”
The AMC Sports Medicine Institute fellowship program will prepare and train Chinese orthopedic doctors to provide the best medical care for the musculoskeletal system in athletes, using the latest innovative clinical and surgical technologies, and to improve patient care through research and education with an emphasis on prevention.
Q. We know you’ve received accolades from surgeons at the Andrews Clinic. Could you tell us about those recommendations and the level of doctors you’re working with?
Dr. Ponce: Throughout the years we have been working together, they know me for my experience and professionalism. Even more than my colleagues, they are my close friends. Working with them has made me realize how important teamwork is in this field.
Q. What athletes and celebrities have you worked with?
Dr. Ponce: During my fellowship at ASMOC/ASMI, I had the fascinating opportunity to treat pro-athlete celebrities such as Duante Culpepper (Miami Dolphin’s QB), David Bautista (WWE wrestler, “Batista”), Drew Brees (New Orleans Saint’s QB), Matt Clement (Boston Red sox’s pitcher), and Jim Thome (Chicago White Sox) alongside Dr. Andrews, Dr. Dugas, and Dr. Cain Jr.
As a director and orthopedic surgeon in the Latin American Sports Medicine Institute (LASMI) in Venezuela, I treated numerous pro-athletes in Major League Baseball (MLB).
Furthermore, our focus has been on youth athletes’ injury prevention, and we worked hand in hand with many sports academies in South America. We would like to begin this initiative in China through AMC Shanghai’s Sports Medicine Institute with Chinese and expat youth athletes.
Q. Any celebrity stories you can share with us?
From Robert Perez, professional baseball player: “In 2005 I had an injury to the Achilles tendon of my right foot. For a moment I thought that I would never walk or play baseball again, but after the surgery, thanks to the work of Dr. Ponce and his rehabilitation team, I overcame my injury. As proof of this, the following seasons were successful: I was awarded with the MVP of the season, producer of the year and comeback of the year in the same season. I was an active player for another 10 seasons after the surgery, after which, I announced my retirement in 2015.”
Q. What are some of your plans while you’re at AMC in China? How can the AMC Sports Medicine Institute impact the industry in China?
Dr. Ponce: “I like to fix injured athletes,” as Dr. James Andrews says. “I want to get these athletes back to doing what they did before.”
The evolution and advancement of sports medicine has transformed sports from a pastime to a mega business around the world. AMC’s Sports Medicine Institute will become a powerful catalyst for China’s burgeoning professional sports leagues. For example, last year, MLB teams spent $337 million — almost 14% of payroll — on players too injured to play.
When you have a recovery rate of 85%, sports medicine becomes an invaluable part of sports and peoples’ lives in general. The timing is right for China tohave a world class sports medicine institute, and we at AMC are looking forward to playing a large role.