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Surgeon Neal ElAttrache helps Rams and Dodgers get back on the field after injuries

Surgeon Neal ElAttrache helps Rams and Dodgers get back on the field after injuries
Orthopedist Neal ElAttrache, who operated on Kobe Bryant and Zack Greinke on the same day, is the team doctor for the Rams and Dodgers. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

More than three months later, the memory elicits laughter.

But as he was on the phone with a colleague in the Dodgers clubhouse while stuck in traffic Oct. 28, Dr. Neal ElAttrache was experiencing mild panic.

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“I wished I had Kobe’s helicopter,” ElAttrache said.

As the head physician of the Rams and Dodgers, ElAttrache expects busy days in October. This day was especially so.

ElAttrache was on the sideline as the Rams defeated the Green Bay Packers 29-27 to improve to 8-0. He then drove to Dodger Stadium, where the Dodgers dropped the fifth and final game of the World Series to the Boston Red Sox 5-1.

“I got there in the first inning,” ElAttrache said.

ElAttrache explained how he likely would have missed the Dodgers game if they had played earlier.

“Attritional injuries with the occasional acute injury is baseball,” ElAttrache said. “It’s extremely rare that it’s an orthopedic emergency. Orthopedic urgency and sometimes emergencies are commonplace in the NFL. It’s wartime medicine.”

So if a football team is playing, its head physician absolutely has to be on the sideline.

Providing the Rams and Dodgers with proper care in October would have been impossible if not for ElAttrache’s colleagues from the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, fellow surgeons Michael Banffy and Christos Photopoulos, as well as primary-care sports medicine physician Casey Batten. They divided responsibilities based on the particular needs of the two teams.

ElAttrache made it a point to be at every game, if possible. One 12-day stretch looked like this: the Dodgers in Milwaukee for Games 1 and 2 of the National League Championship Series on Oct. 12-13; the Rams in Denver on Oct. 14; the Dodgers in Los Angeles for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the NLCS on Oct. 15-17; the Dodgers in Milwaukee for Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS on Oct. 19-20; the Rams in San Francisco on Oct. 21, and the Dodgers in Boston for Game 1 of the World Series on Oct. 23.

ElAttrache didn’t mind.

“It was exciting to have both teams where they were,” he said.

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