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VOL. 9 | NO. 21 | Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lendermon Sports Medicine Explores Non-Surgical Healing Methods


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Laura Lendermon is amazed at how the body works. As a former college athlete and lifelong runner, she’s familiar with the aches and pains athletes experience. As a doctor, she’s knowledgeable on a much deeper level of the magic of the human body.

Lendermon Sports Medicine's Dr. Laura Lendermon has always been an athlete, and had a chance to play college basketball for legendary coach Pat Summitt. Her practice tries to avoid surgery when treating clients' injuries. 

(Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

As operator of Lendermon Sports Medicine in Collierville, Lendermon is focused on non-surgical orthopedic options for patients, whether it’s a joint ache, degenerative issue or sports injury.

Her patients include active young professionals still playing sports, their children dealing with injuries of various types and their parents who have degenerative issues such as arthritis.

Lendermon also is known for cutting-edge work that includes stem cell therapy for orthopedic issues. It’s a way to fill the gap between conservative methods and surgery.

Regenerative medicine uses the patient’s own body to produce the healing tissue. It started out as cells from afterbirth, but today’s advancements show that better cells come from the body.

“I think we’ll see it medicine-wide, but in our case it’s ongoing chronic problems we can’t fix without surgery,” Lendermon said. “We’re committed to doing cutting-edge technology that nobody offers, and I think stem cell therapy is an example of that.”

Lendermon Sports Medicine is the only facility in the Memphis area that offers the therapy as an outpatient service in office. Patients have come from outside the region, including Louisiana, Texas and the Cayman Islands.

Lendermon’s experience in the sports arena dates well before her time in sports medicine. An athlete her whole life, she played basketball and tennis at the University of Tennessee at Martin. That, actually, is part of one of her great regrets as she looks back.

She woke up to a phone call one morning, days before high school graduation. On the other line was Pat Summitt, the legendary basketball coach at UT Knoxville. Lendermon stuck to her commitment to play basketball at UT Martin, but the opportunity to play for Summitt is understandably one of those “what if” moments in life.

When Lendermon was younger, she thought her career path would be in coaching or medicine.

Her initial plan followed a traditional path – by 25 she’d be married, she thought, making the time commitment to complete medical school difficult in her eyes.

She followed medicine, but it wasn’t medical school. After three years at UT Martin, Lendermon’s career path was physical therapy. It was while attending physical therapy school in Memphis that she decided she’d start running during her free time.

One day she signed up for a 5K race with a friend. Standing around afterwards talking, she heard her name called and thought she had parked her car in the wrong place. Instead, she won an award.

That introduced Lendermon to one of her passions. Since then, she’s run countless marathons and continues running daily.

As she approached 30, Lendermon realized that while she enjoyed physical therapy work, she pretty much already had reached the top of the profession. She wasn’t married yet, so according to her earlier train of thought, medical school was back on the table.

As it worked out, Lendermon immediately met her future husband at medical school, and her career went another way.

She went into sports medicine and completed a fellowship in Birmingham, Ala., with renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, the go-to doctor in the sports world. Lendermon came back to Memphis and started her practice in 1999. She’s been in the current location on Houston Levee Road just north of Poplar Avenue in Collierville since 2010.

There are a variety of practices in the Memphis area, but Lendermon said the boutique feel of her private practice sets her apart. There is one other sports medicine doctor who concentrates on concussions, along with three physical therapists. In fact, Lendermon still has her physical therapy license. It’s an integral part of the practice, although patients sometimes are referred to outside providers.

“Our practice is the boutique vs. the big-box store,” she said. “Price doesn’t change, but time and attention does. You come in and we spend a significant amount of time with you. We know everything about you. People enjoy the experience of coming to us because they’re made to feel special.”

Lendermon and her staff try to find non-surgical solutions for patients who come in with a variety of ailments, from arthritis to sprains to cartilage or ligament issues in a knee. About 90 percent of patient ailments don’t require surgery; the other 10 percent, though, Lendermon is quick to recommend surgery when it’s needed.

Personal care is important, even when someone doesn’t seem to have an obvious ailment. In fact, Lendermon said she’s discovered cancer, multiple sclerosis and even AIDS in patients who were in complaining about aches and pains.

“There are people you don’t want to blow off because it could be significant,” she said. “We love what we do here and I think the patients see that.”

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