Dr. Dan Gurley has seen a number of sides of sports injuries.
Gurley, board-certified and fellowship-trained in sports medicine and orthopaedic surgery, is part of the College Park Family Care Center and the staff at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. He has been an athlete, treated athletes and is raising three athletes.
Gurley was a basketball player at Shawnee Mission South, graduating from the school in 1988.
“I was a kid who always wanted to be a doctor,” he said. “When I was 14, I had a crash on a dune buggy that resulted in multiple elbow surgeries.
“While it took away my football career, it inspired me to pursue orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine.”
Gurley has been practicing in Johnson County for 11 years this month. In that time, he has seen a lot of sports injuries.
“I see a wide range of injuries, from football, soccer and basketball to kickball, diving and dodgeball,” he said. “One of the biggest recent concerns has been the high incidence of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries in teenage girls.
“Our practice, in conjunction with our physical therapy department, has instituted an injury prevention called “Girls can Jump.”
And Gurley, a Leawood resident, has some advice for parents of young athletes.
“I strongly believe in the value of sports for the development of young people and encourage parents to involve their kids in athletics,” Gurley said. “However, I don’t believe in super specialization at a young age.
“Playing a different sport every season has been shown to work on different parts of the body and creates balanced muscle development. I encourage parents and youth coaches to become educated on safe participation in sports.”
Gurley has three kids of his own who are participating in sports.
Jeff will be a 15-year-old sophomore at Blue Valley High School who participates in football, basketball and track. Olivia is 13 and will be an eighth-grader at Prairie Star Middle School. She is involved in basketball. Will is 10 and will be a fifth-grader at Prairie Star Elementary School who plays football, basketball, baseball and lacrosse.
“I have coached my children in multiple sports,” Gurley said. “Coaching has helped my relationship with my own children while also allowing me to get to know my kids’ friends as well. Also, having an acute awareness of the athletes and all of their issues helps me to be a better sports medicine physician.”
The former SM South basketball player has been the team physician for the Blue Valley football team since 2003.
“My involvement has allowed me to meet and treat many kids and families in our community,” he said. “It is especially exciting now as my oldest son is a sophomore football player at Blue Valley.”
Gurley thinks that high school sports are a big part of a community.
“High school sports are the heartbeat of the community,” he said. “My job of caring for the athletes allows me to have a small role of impacting the community.
“High school athletes have a small window of time to showcase their talents. I feel my role is to help them return from injury and to the playing field as quickly and as safely as possible. I never take a chance allowing an injured athlete to return to the field when I perceive the risk of injury is too high.”
What does Gurley think is the biggest thing for parents and athletes to know about sports injuries?
“We live in a community with many resources for sports medicine care,” he said. “I encourage parents and athletes to seek advice from qualified personnel, such as certified athletic trainers and board-certified sports medicine physicians.”