Orthopedic care at Mary Greeley scores big when an Ames athlete turned surgeon comes home.
Dr. Bryan Warme with two of his patients:
Tyus Mason, a Des Moines high school
football player, and Josh Heitkamp,
an Iowa State University Cyclone athlete.
By Andrew Zalasky
There aren’t very many orthopedic surgeons in Iowa with a Super Bowl ring. But then Bryan Warme, a member of the McFarland Clinic team who practices at Mary Greeley Medical Center, isn’t just any orthopedic surgeon.
This hometown son left Ames for his education and the chance to play football. But even the glamour of the Big Apple and the allure of big-name sports stars couldn’t keep him away for long. Today, Warme has set his sights on helping people of all ages get back on their feet — at home and on the field.
Intro to Ortho
A multi-sport athlete from Ames, Warme was equally at home on the basketball court as he was on the football field. But by his junior year as an Ames High School Little Cyclone, he began to garner interest from a number of colleges, including Iowa State University, even as he suffered injuries to both of his shoulders and a knee.
Despite that, Warme was recruited by Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, but was only healthy enough to suit up for a single game his freshman season. “I was pretty banged up from the time I set foot on campus,” says Warme. “I spent more time in the training room than anywhere else. It was tough on me mentally, but in the end, that was also my real introduction to orthopedics.”
Warme transitioned from student-athlete to student with the same dedication he put toward the playing field. “I convinced myself it was the right decision and then to put my energy into the books to make the most of my Yale education,” Warme says.
In fact, it was probably his years spent battling injuries that pushed him toward studying how to treat pain. Warme completed his undergraduate schooling in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Soon after, he enrolled in medical school at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. After earning his medical degree in 2006, Warme completed an orthopedics surgery residency at the University of Iowa and was selected for a prestigious Sports Medicine fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery (part of the Cornell University Orthopedic Hospital) in New York City.
“It is one of the top sports medicine fellowships in the United States, and really in the world,” Warme says. “It was a very competitive process to earn the fellowship and I was lucky to be selected for it. It provided me with extraordinary practical experience in treating a wide variety of sports injuries.”
McFarland Clinic Orthopedic Surgeon Bryan
Warme is pictured with New York Giants
quarterback Eli Manning at the 2012 Super Bowl,
where Warme was a team doctor for the Giants.
It was there that the former football player found himself as a team physician for the NFL’s New York Giants. He also got to treat athletes from other major league teams including basketball’s New York Knicks and hockey’s New York Rangers.
But there was something else unexpected: a Super Bowl ring when the Giants won the big game that year. “It was sheer luck,” says Warme. “I didn’t play a snap, I just helped take care of the team. I don’t wear it because it’s a bit flashy for my way of life. I try to be as humble as possible, but the ring is something I can give to my grandkids down the road.”
Even before Warme’s fellowship was complete, he was being recruited back to Ames, this time as a physician. “Spirituality is a big part of my life, and I felt called to get back to my roots after having spent a dozen or so years moving around the country training to become an orthopedic surgeon,” Warme says. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return home to work with a great group of orthopedists and help care for Iowa State athletes.”
Warme trained in arthroscopic hip surgery, a minimally invasive approach to repairing a variety of ailments, during his fellowship. He is now part of the Mary Greeley Medical Center orthopedics team where he treats a variety of sports injuries, from shoulders and elbows to ankles, knees and hips. In particular, he has brought special skills in treating hip injuries in young athletes.
His work with those Super Bowl champions has certainly added to the level of confidence he inspires in patients and parents. “His expertise is what we were looking for,” says Stacy Mason, whose son Tyus is an all-state running back at West Des Moines Valley High School. “We wanted a physician who had worked with high level athletes and it doesn’t get any higher than the NFL.”
That goes for college athletes too. “The fact that he had worked with some of the best athletes in the world was something that gave me a lot of confidence in his ability,” says ISU runner Josh Heitkamp. “And while he had worked with world-class athletes in the past, he made sure that I understood everything he was telling me. I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with Dr. Warme.”
As for Warme, he’s happy to be back home, treating athletes and helping them get back in the game. “I can’t think of a better place for my wife and I to raise our kids,” Warme says.
More than Just Hips
Although Warme is just one of a handful of physicians in Iowa performing arthroscopic hip surgery, he also offers a range of solutions in his comprehensive sports medicine practice. There are shoulder, knee and ankle injuries, along with just about any other malady that pops up on the field of play.
“I’ve had the good fortune in my training to see athletes at the top of their profession and have treated about every injury conceivable. That has proven invaluable as I work with my partners to care for the athletes from Iowa State and the area high schools,” says Warme. “I think everyone in our group does a great job of taking care of patients. I am fortunate to work alongside doctors David Sneller, Thomas Greenwald, Peter Buck, Sam Kaspar, and James Friederich.”
And he and his partners complement the other work happening at McFarland Clinic. “Every single physician in the clinic sees sports medicine injuries,” he says. “From pediatrics to urology and beyond. I just feel fortunate that I can work with these doctors to take care of the orthopedic side.”