Anticipation. Excitement. Humility. Gratitude.
These were our collective reactions when we heard the news we were going on the AOSSM/APKASS Traveling Fellowship. We shared our goals for the Fellowship with each other — to share technical expertise, scientific innovation, and develop lasting alliances across the globe. By contributing to a cultural and scientific exchange, we hope to build collaborations and friendship, and shape not only the future of our practices, but to gain different perspectives that would influence our lives outside of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine.
We met Dr. Yuichi Hoshino at the Osaka airport, and later Dr. Daisuke Araki. We were sluggish from our travels, but that quickly dissipated at Yakitori Grill restaurant. There we dined on chicken chopped into bite-size pieces and placed on skewers. Who knew the delicacies of articular cartilage could have such flavor? We quickly grew comfortable with our new hosts.
The following day, we met at Kobe University Hospital for surgery with professor Ryosuke Kuroda and assistant professor Takehiko Matsushita. There we observed a double bundle ACL in a 15-year-old female basketball player with hyperlaxity, as well as an MPFL reconstruction in challenging revision case with previous TTO and lateral release. We were impressed by the teamwork and coordinated mastery of the surgical teams. We learned more about their quantitative picot shift testing pre-op and at 1-year post-op in all ACL reconstructions—impressive. Following surgery, we were able to observe clinic, including a 6-week follow-up of an autograft mosaicplasty in 30-year-old professional basketball player.
Baseball is not only America’s pastime, but also the most popular sport in Japan – and we got to see that firsthand. We were treated to wonderful seats on opening night, where the Honshin Tigers defeated The Tokyo Swallows 2-1 in 11 innings. The atmosphere in the Kyocera Dome was one words cannot adequately express. There were raucous and continuous coordinated chants during the home teams at-bats, and the fans were electric! We then were treated to sushi and sashimi dinner at Sushi Hasegawa, and agreed it was the best any of us had experienced. The sushi chefs had deft skill as they used large knives to prepare the living eel right in front of our plates!
On Saturday, we hiked to Rokko Mountain 700 meters. The entire Sports Kobe surgical team including staff and residents joined us. They came prepared, stopping halfway to brew freshly ground coffee to fuel our remaining journey to the summit. At the top, we enjoyed wonderful views of the Kobe-Osaka area and enjoyed a “small” five course Italian lunch.
In the afternoon and evening, we participated in good-spirited debates on knee and shoulder topics at the Kobe Sports Conference. We were impressed at the inclusion of the entire Kobe Orthopedic Department. It was an honor to have professor Kurosaka (Kurosaka interference ACL screws) there, and he also joined us for dinner at Hanare No Utage (Hidden Place) for an unbelievable Kobe beef dinner. He managed to teach us the delicate nuances of chopstick skill as well. To cap this incredible evening, we all tried our hand at Japanese karaoke.
On Sunday, we traveled to Nara for a temple tour, where we were extremely fortunate to view the cherry blossoms in full bloom. We discussed knee cases along the way, including a double level osteotomy by professor Matsushita. We returned home on the Shinkansen bullet train — a short trip at 300 km/hour!
On Monday morning, we said goodbye to our new friends professors Ryosuke Kuroda and Takehiko Matsushita, Drs. Yuichi Hoshino and Daisuke Araki, and began the journey to Seoul for a new adventure.
AOSSM gratefully acknowledges DJO Global for their support of the Traveling Fellowship program