Dr. Richard Steadman to Retire from His Surgical Practice at the Steadman Clinic

Sports Medicine Pioneer Will Continue as Co-Chairman of the Steadman Philippon Research Institute

"A generation of professional athletes and grateful patients owe their livelihood and mobility to his successful, pioneering and exceptional...care."
- Mike Shannon, Chairman, Vail Health Services


VAIL, Colo. - Jan. 29, 2014 - Dr. J. Richard Steadman, founder of The Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI), has announced that he is retiring from his active surgical practice.

Dr. Steadman looks forward to continuing to consult with his physician colleagues at The Steadman Clinic, focusing on the practice of evidence-based medicine to return patients to their active lifestyles. He will also continue as co-chairman of the institute, the charitable entity known throughout the world for its research into the causes, prevention and treatment of orthopaedic disorders.

"I cannot imagine a more fulfilling career than the one I have had as an orthopaedic physician," said Steadman. "I'm lucky to have had so many patients determined to win again in their sports after serious knee injuries. Their will to succeed has played a large part in my success in treating them. Now I look forward to taking part in further research projects with SPRI scientists."

"Dr. Steadman is a great friend and an inspiration for all orthopaedic surgeons," said Dr. Marc J. Philippon, managing partner of The Steadman Clinic. "He has been an outstanding pioneer in the world of sports medicine for years. His innovations have influenced the field and benefited countless patients. He had exceptional surgical skills, but he is much more than a surgeon. He is an amazingly caring physician. He is retiring from his surgical practice, but his innovative contributions will continue forever."

An award-winning innovator and mentor in the field of orthopaedic sports medicine, Steadman founded the non-profit Steadman Sports Medicine Research Foundation in 1988 at South Lake Tahoe, California, where he began his orthopaedic practice in 1970. Its purpose was to collect and analyze patient data and outcomes over time. That organization exists today as Steadman Philippon Research Institute, which is known worldwide for its unprecedented clinical database and research into orthopaedic injuries of the knee, hip, shoulder, ankle and spine.

Early in his career at South Lake Tahoe, Dr. Steadman developed significant improvements in the field of post-surgical rehabilitation. These techniques are important in shortening and strengthening the healing process after surgery. Steadman is internationally known for the development of many advanced surgical procedures for the knee, including "microfracture," a procedure that repairs the damaged joint, and encourages the re-growth of articular cartilage. He also developed the "healing response" and most recently (in 2011) the "package," a technique that can restore normal, comfortable movement to the stiff and painful arthritic knee, thereby avoiding joint replacement surgery.

An Amazing Journey

Born in Sherman, Texas, Steadman graduated from Texas A&M University, where as a freshman and sophomore he was on the football team headed by legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

After earning his medical degree in 1963 from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Steadman served his internship at Charity Hospital of New Orleans. Steadman was drafted into the U. S. Army and spent 1964-66 in Germany, returning to Charity Hospital, where he completed his four-year residency. He began his career as an orthopaedic surgeon in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. in 1970. During the first 20 years of Dr. Steadman's practice, he established his reputation for excellence through his successful treatment of athletes from the U.S. Ski Team and other professional sports.

In 1990, two years after forming the research foundation, he and his family - and many members of his staff - made the decision to move to Vail, where he was joined by shoulder expert Dr. Richard Hawkins. Together the two physicians formed the renowned Steadman Hawkins Clinic.

In 2004, Hawkins moved to South Carolina, where he continues his orthopaedic practice. In March 2005, Dr. Marc J. Philippon joined the Vail practice, which was later renamed The Steadman Clinic. The clinic will continue to operate under that name. With Philippon and other clinic physicians' involvement in research, the institute continues to thrive, earning international recognition.

Under the leadership of Steadman and Philippon, the clinic that began with a focus limited to treatment of knee and shoulder problems, now includes 11 physicians with multiple orthopaedic sub-specialties. The Steadman Clinic is regarded as one of the world's preeminent orthopaedic sports medicine clinics.

The Steadman Legacy

"Dr. Steadman stepped into the operating room to perform his first operation at Vail Valley Medical Center in the summer of 1990," said Doris Kirchner, President and CEO of Vail Valley Medical Center. "That day marked the beginning of 24 years of consistent and continuous success for The Steadman Clinic and for VVMC. The face of VVMC changed forever."


"Richard played a tremendous role in creating an internationally recognized destination orthopaedic center of excellence for the Vail Valley," said Mike Shannon, Chairman, Vail Health Services. "A generation of professional athletes and grateful patients owe their livelihood and mobility to his successful, pioneering and exceptional delivery of innovative orthopaedic health care."


Steadman has treated well over 12,000 patients since relocating to Vail, including many elite athletes across various sports and was sought out by some of the world's best-known athletes and public figures for treatment. His ability to return high-level athletes with knee injuries to medal-winning victories following surgery and rehabilitation has made him an iconic figure in sports medicine.


Cindy Nelson, who won a bronze medal in the women's downhill at the 1976 Olympic Winter Games, the first of her three Olympics, was the first elite athlete that Steadman treated. "Dr. Steadman is the single greatest influence on my life and I share each of my successes with him," said Nelson. "Not only did he influence my competitive skiing career, helping me come back better and stronger after each of my injuries, he also helped me as a person. He inspired me with his humble character, his integrity, his incredibly innovative mind and his insatiable desire to help. My story is the same of many patients, athletes, doctors and skiing champions worldwide."


During his career, Steadman has been a consultant to the NFL's Denver Broncos and MLB's Colorado Rockies. He served as U.S. Alpine Chief Physician at nine consecutive Winter Olympic Games from 1976-2006.

"I recognize that our Clinic has gained considerable attention for our work with elite athletes over the years," Steadman added. "But we also made it our mission to help everyday people stay active longer. Helping people return to their normal lives and healthy physical activity has been just as rewarding as getting an Olympic skier back on the slopes or an NFL player back on the field."

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  • "Richard is a brilliant, kind, caring gentle giant in the medical field. Our community is so fortunate to have him."
              - Mike Shannon, Chairman, Vail Health Services

  • "Dr. Steadman has been one of the most innovative and brilliant sports medicine surgeons of his generation. His impact on our field with his invention of the microfracture surgery, still considered to be the best first line treatment for most articular cartilage defects, and early motion after surgery were ingenious. He also established the top sports medicine fellowship program in North America and one of the top sports medicine research Institutes in the world. His hard work and innovation will affect our field going forward for many generations."
              - Dr. Robert LaPrade, TSC Surgeon, Chief Medical Officer, SPRI

  • "Through Dr. Steadman's practice of medicine, he has changed the way of looking at what's possible, and his thinking has influenced treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention across all sports and vocations. Dr. Steadman and his team have trained hundreds of physicians, shared the results of their research with thousands, and impacted the lives of millions of people throughout the world. I look forward to working with Dr. Steadman in the next chapter of his great career."
              - John McMurtry, Director of Development, SPRI

  • "One of the most intriguing aspects of Dr. Steadman is his thirst for knowledge. He is always a student and is always willing to learn. As he retires from his surgical practice, I see this as a personal benefit for me and for SPRI because now he will have more time to work with our group in the area of regenerative medicine therapies research. This is an amazing opportunity to get more of his daily input into the research to which he has already contributed so much."
              - Dr. William G. Rodkey, Director of the Center for Translational & Regenerative Medicine Research at SPRI

  • "Dr. Steadman treats patients in such a special way that they are comfortable and confident about their care. In 1993, Dr. Steadman first told me that how the patient feels is the most important outcome of the surgery. He listens and learns from every patient. Watching Dr. Steadman work and writing papers with him has been the most incredible journey."
              - Karen Briggs, Director, Center for Outcomes-Based Orthopaedic Research at SPRI

  • "My life and the lives of so many others are so much better for knowing Dr. Richard Steadman. He has helped his many patients with his compassion and skill as a doctor. The many revolutionary treatment techniques he has developed and validated have helped his patients and many others around the world. He has been a dear friend, role model, mentor, and teacher to me, as well as to so many others including many of the newer leaders in orthopaedic sports medicine. His insistence on excellence in caring for his patients has helped me to demand more of myself for my part. Through all his achievement and his tremendous stature, he has always been the true gentleman, another wonderful example for all. I look forward to much more learning, research, and great fun with Dr. Steadman."
              - Dr. Charles Ho, Director of Imaging Research, SPRI

  • "Dr. Steadman chose a career that was perfectly suited to him. Through his work, he directly touched thousands of patients and positively affected the care of thousands more through his influence amongst his peers. He changed people's expectations of what was possible following a major knee injury. He is an innovator, a great doctor and an even better person."
              - Luke O'Brien, VP, Physical Therapy Operations, Vail Howard Head Sports Medicine

Contact:  Lynda Sampson


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