For Sarah Lander, M.D., the joy of working in pediatric orthopaedics and sports medicine is in getting to know her patients and their parents, both through the difficult times of injury and then watching them return and thrive in the activities they enjoy.
“I love seeing the attitude, determination and desire of athletes of all ages who are recovering to return to their sport or the activities they love. Their willingness to improve and their body’s ability to adapt is always impressive,” she said.
Lander joined the University of Rochester Medical Center as an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedics in September, 2021. Previously, she completed a residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at URMC from 2016-2020, and then trained as a Fellow in Sports Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine.
Being exposed to the Division I culture at Duke and working with the football, basketball, and soccer teams showed Lander the breadth and scope that sports medicine can provide to athletes.
“Duke offered a well-rounded experience managing a wide variety of injuries and complex cases,” she said. “Being in the training room, you are constantly working and interacting with athletes, athletic staff and parents. Even if athletes are not injured, they’re always working with physical therapists and athletic trainers to assess where they’re at performance-wise, and it was our job to help them to optimize their goals and get them to compete at the highest level.”
Lander sees URMC as being part of an emerging sports medicine movement to treat the whole athlete and not just their injuries. She has a special interest in developing a pediatric orthopaedic sports medicine team, as she strongly believes every athlete is unique and requires individualized care for both their treatment and recovery.
“Pediatric sports medicine is a growing field, and while in the past pediatric athletes were treated similarly to adults, there are now new and innovative treatments for this patient population that accommodates their growing physiology.”
To this end, Lander looks forward to working with Katie Rizzone, M.D., on non-operative injuries, as well as helping to build psychological support systems toward helping athletes recover. “Sport psychology is a huge component. When athletes are injured, in most cases they are taken away from the activity, their friends and their social norms. I would like to change that narrative,” she said, by helping athletes adapt to these sudden changes and pressures.
This type of cross-departmental collaboration is what attracted Lander back to URMC after completing her fellowship at Duke.
“Working collaboratively with individual athletes to build a training and rehabilitation program that’s unique to each patient and their anatomy is what will propel that young student athlete to perform at their highest level. It will allow them to take what they learn from their recovery and sport and apply it to all aspects of their life,” she said.