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Badger Basketball Team Physician On Call On Bench for Tournament

Wisconsin Badger basketball playerMadison, Wisconsin – Wade through the student section at any University of Wisconsin men's basketball game and ask a Grateful Red fanatic about his worst fear during the NCAA tournament. Responses may include:


a) Losing in the next round to a low seed so obscure no one even knows in which state the school resides.


b) Losing to a loathsome rival like Michigan, only to see that team advance to the Final Four.


c) Sam Dekker or Josh Gasser tumbling to the floor, wincing in pain and grabbing at his knee.


Dr. Warren Dunn can't do anything about a) and b). As head of the University of Wisconsin's division of Sports Medicine and team physician for the Badger men's basketball team, his main function on game night is to address c), and any other in-game injury issues that plague the Badgers.


This season was Dr. Dunn's first on the Badger bench, though he provided the same service for the men's team during his time at his previous job, at Vanderbilt University.


With an athletic trainer in support, he keeps careful watch on the players, tending to lesser injuries –  bumps and bruises, small cuts that need to be stanched before the player can return to the court - on the bench and retreating to the training room at the Kohl Center if he suspects something more serious may have occurred.


Dr. Dunn, monitoring the action from the Badger bench."It depends on the nature of the injury," Dr. Dunn says, adding that the training room facilities are equipped with everything he needs for a thorough examination, including a fluoroscopy machine, should x-rays be needed to rule out fractures. "The one thing that is really nice is that it's a private room, so we don't have to worry about privacy issues."


His work is guided by one overarching principle. It's Dr. Dunn's responsibility to determine whether returning to the game would threaten the player's health. Perhaps surprisingly, given the competitiveness of athletes, he rarely has to talk down a player who wants to return to the court too soon.


"The kids are really good about listening to our recommendations," he says, noting one exception that can try a player's patience. "The only time it might be an issue is with concussion. We are very conservative if we think players have been concussed and follow the guidelines strictly in terms of return to play."


A fan as well as a physician – "I love college basketball," he says – Dr. Dunn emphasizes the latter during games, while making slight allowances for the former.


"As long as I'm discreet, I can root for the Badgers," he says, though he laughs when he makes it clear his behavior is considerably more subdued than many of the Kohl Center's courtside patrons. "It certainly would be inappropriate for me to make comments to the ref."


And even if this year's Vanderbilt men's basketball team had made the NCAA tournament, Dr. Dunn's allegiance is still clear.


"Wisconsin," he says without hesitation.

Date Published: 03/12/2014

News tag(s):  sports

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