Return to Play After Spinal Fusion

Dr. Frank Phillips, co-director of the MOR Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, conductedgolf-spine a study on return to play after spinal fusion that was recently published in SportsHealth.  Dr. Phillips found that more than 50 percent of golfers return to play within one year of lumbar fusion surgery and some were even sooner. In general, most golfers returned to preoperative levels of performance (handicap) and frequency of play.

Read Full Study


Transition to Autumn Golf; Chicago Sports Summit; Tips for Marathon Runners

Episode 16.29 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

new host image2

Segment One: James Standhardt, Certified Personal Coach from GolfTEC talks withstandhardt Dr. Cole and Steve about transition to the autumn golf season, improving your game through consistency and the GolfTEC Advantage. James has taught for more than 12 years and has given over 17,000 lessons with GolfTEC. Five time “Outstanding Achievement in Instruction” winner.

Integrating Technique, Equipment and Conditioning Through Technology

For golfers who are serious about golf instruction and improving their games, or getting started correctly, GolfTEC provides an unmatched experience and consistent results.

Giving millions of golf lessons to thousands of golfers of every ability confirms our belief in a comprehensive approach to game improvement. We know that an on-going Game Plan will build your golf skills faster and provide more lasting results than an occasional golf lesson.

At GolfTEC you’ll have your own Certified Personal Coach who knows your golf game and is passionate about seeing it improve. We have developed the Five Factors needed for maximum improvement. When incorporated into your Game Plan, they lead to a swing you can depend on again and again.

Segment Two: Dr. Cole talks with Steve about the great success of the Chicago Sports Summit held on October 5th in which Dr. Cole as one of the emcees, shared the sports-summitspotlight with some of the biggest names in Chicago sports and heard from insiders about the business of Chicago sports. Content from the event will be posted soon at

Segment Three: Dorothy Cohee from Athletico talks with Dr. Cole about the Chicago Marathon, runner injuries, training tips and recovery; the advantages of foam rolling.


Evaluating Pro Athletes Fitness to Play; Limiting Pitch Counts for HS Pitchers; The Importance of Multiplanar Training

Episode 16.19 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

new host image

Segment One: Dr. Cole and Dr. Bush-Joseph compare their experience as head team physician for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox respectively, evaluating player fitness to play and potential risk of injury, during the recruiting process. Dr. Bush-Joseph is a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School in 1983, and is currently a Professor at Rush University Medical Center and the Associate Director of the Rush Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program.

Charles Bush-Joseph, M.D.Dr. Bush-Joseph is a respected educator of medical students, residents, fellows, and practicing orthopedic surgeons lecturing at numerous national educational meetings. He serves on the editorial board of several national orthopedic journals (including the prestigious American Journal of Sports Medicine) and holds committee responsibilities with several national orthopedic societies including the American Academy of Orthopaedics Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Society Sports Medicine.

Segment Two: Steve and Dr. Cole talk about the recent change in regulations to limit pitch counts for high school baseball pitchers; the importance of cross training, rest and core strength training in preseason workouts to help minimize the risk of shoulder and elbow overuse injuries and young players; how these injuries and surgeries at the high school level can prevent players from progressing to higher levels of play.


Segment Three:  Chris Garcia  from ATIPT talks about the Importance of Multiplanar Training.

The activities of running, swimming, and to a lesser extent, cycling all require someThe Importance of Multiplanar Training amount of movement and control in all three dimensions. Despite this, many cross training programs don’t include exercises that involve all three dimensions. For instance, many running programs focus on the sagittal plane (squats, lunges, leg press, and calf raises) and neglect the transverse (side to side) and frontal (rotational) planes.

Most natural human movement is executed in all three dimensions. These three dimensions, or planes of movement, are sagittal, frontal, and transverse. The sagittal plane is forward and backwards movement such as the leg movement with walking. The frontal plane is sideways movement such as jumping jacks. The transverse plane is rotational movement such as rotating your hip or shoulder during a throwing motion.

With running the primary movement occurs in the sagittal plane but one needs to be able to stabilize in the frontal and transverse plane in order to be efficient, powerful, and sustainable. Many of the injuries seen with running are related to too much movement in the frontal or transverse plane. Over pronation, inward collapse of the knee, or an opposite side hip drop are all problems of control in either the frontal or transverse plane.

Biking has its own challenges with lower extremity movement in the sagittal plane but stability needing to come from the upper body by controlling twisting and side bending forces. Many injuries are related to poor fit or alignment of the bike components but many others are related to the mismatch in lower extremity force production and stability of the torso.

Swimming (freestyle) requires sagittal plane lower extremity movement, transverse plane spinal movement/stability, and tri-planar movement of the upper extremities. Many repetitive strain injuries are related to poor stability or control of movement in the lower back and scapula area or a lack of mobility of the upper back or shoulder.

Improving strength and power output through resistance training can improve performance in all of these sports but neglecting the frontal and transverse plane is a common mistake that can actually increase ones risk of injury. Below are several options for developing strength and control in the frontal and transverse planes.


Measuring Surgical Outcomes through Research; Golfers Returning to Play after Surgery

Episode 16.16 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

new host image

Segment One: Dr. Cole and Dr. Nikhil Verma discuss how patient outcome results are evaluated at Rush University Medical Center through the collection and publication of data; tracking outcomes and value of various procedures vs. costs through research.Dr. Verma is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, has been named Professor and Director of Sports Medicine Research for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center.

Dr. Verma has received recognition for his treatment of shoulder, elbow and kneeNikhil N. Verma, M.D. conditions using advanced and innovative surgical techniques. He performs more than 500 procedures yearly, in addition to serving as a team physician for the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls and Nazareth Academy, LaGrange Park. His highly qualified clinical practice is complemented by his distinguished work in research and academic medicine.

Dr. Verma has written a number of book chapters and peer-reviewed manuscripts that have been published in orthopedic and sports medicine journals. He is often an invited speaker or guest surgeon for national and international sports medicine conferences. Additionally, he is the Associate Editor of the Arthroscopy Journal as well as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Knee Surgery. He has been elected yearly by his peers to “Best Doctors in America” since 2007, and U.S. News & World Report voted him among the top 10-15% of Top Doctors in America.”

 Segment Two: Golf Pro John Esposito talks with Dr. Cole and Steve about his observations with golfers returning to play after serious injury and-or surgery, providing perspective both from the pro and the surgeons point of view; limitations pre/post surgery; types and most common injuries; causes and symptoms; gradually returning to former level of play.

John Esposito is celebrating his 25th year as a PGA Professional and is also the Director of Instruction at Bowes Creek CC in Elgin Illinois. John has also been nominated 9 times for Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year.  In addition, this year he was also nominated for Illinois Junior Golf Leader for his commitment to growing the game and great success with his junior programs. Read more about John at

Dr. DeWald on Treatment for Golfers with Back Pain

Dr. Christopher J. DeWald, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush surgeon, explains that golfers can relieve pain without surgery. Watch the video.

Back on Course after Spine Surgery: Clinical Trial

If you suffer from neck or low back pain due to degenerative spinal conditions, you may be eligible for a study on minimally invasive spine surgery.

Dr. Kern Singh, Co-Director of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, is currently conducting a research study on the effects of spinal pain and minimally invasive spinal surgery on a patient’s ability to play golf. Using a state-of-the-art golf simulator, a patient scheduled to undergo minimally invasive surgery will undertake a swing analysis, strength and flexibility measurement, and 3-dimensional motion analysis.

This sophisticated golf swing analysis will allow Dr. Singh to determine a participant’s golfing abilities prior to surgery. Patients undergoing either a minimally invasive neck or back fusion will be included in the study. Following their minimally invasive surgery, the patients will participate in the same analysis at two time points. The data collected in this study will be used to establish return-to-sport procedures for golfers at any level of competition.

Clinical Trial Eligibility Criteria

The Back on Course after Spine Surgery Clinical Trial is a novel approach to the functional outcomes following minimally invasive neck and back fusion. To be eligible for the study, you must:

  • Play golf
  • Have neck or low back pain
  • Have not undergone previous neck or back surgery
  • Be willing to undergo initial evaluation and imaging to determine if your pain is caused by a degenerative spinal condition
  • Be a candidate for minimally invasive neck or back fusion

If you are interested in this trial, contact Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush at or 312.432.2888 to schedule an evaluation and find out if you are eligible.

This study is being done in conjunction with Athletico Physical Therapy. At its Golf Performance Center in Oak Brook, IL, study participants’ swings are being recorded and evaluated with video analysis both before and after spinal surgery.