As a native of Danvers, Massachusetts, Lisa Vopat, MD, never dreamed she'd wind up in Kansas. But when her brother, who had attended the University of Kansas, invited her as a high school senior to visit him and attend a basketball game there, she couldn't help but fall in love with all things Jayhawk.
"I was sold," says Dr. Vopat, who now cares for pediatric and adult athletes at The University of Kansas Health System's Sports Medicine and Performance Center.
Dr. Vopat earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in 2003 and enrolled in the University of Kansas School of Medicine a year later. She then returned to the East Coast to begin her residency in emergency medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. It was there, while serving in the ER, that she began to feel the pull toward sports medicine.
"I found that I gravitated toward the patients who came in with sports injuries," said Dr. Vopat, a former competitive soccer player who still competes recreationally and remains active through running and cross training. "Once I finished my residency, I thought it was only natural that I go into sports medicine so I could take care of the athletic patient population that I identified with so personally."
Following her residency, she completed a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital and began her career specializing in pediatric and adult sports medicine, concussion management and sports injury prevention. As an athlete herself, she knows the pain – both physical and emotional – of being sidelined by injuries, and she wants to help competitors get back in the game through comprehensive treatment.
"As an athlete, I understand what it takes to care for patients who are eager to return to play, and I believe in individualized care and being accessible to my patients throughout their recovery process," says Dr. Vopat, whose husband, Bryan, also serves as one of the Sports Medicine and Performance Center physicians. "While the initial goal is for patients to recover from an injury, success is really achieved if the athlete is given the knowledge and tools to prevent injury in the future."
Throughout her career, Dr. Vopat has provided medical coverage for a variety of events and venues, including Disney Cruise Lines, the Boston Marathon, U.S. Figure Skating, the Boston Ballet and Northeastern University Men's Ice Hockey. She has published book chapters on sideline emergency care for young athletes, including in The International Olympic Committee Manual of Emergency Sports Medicine. She has also been an invited lecturer on concussion management. While serving at Boston Children’s Hospital, she was part of the hospital's multidisciplinary concussion clinic.
"I am particularly passionate about treating concussion, as this type of injury has significant ramifications on many aspects of an athlete's life," says Dr. Vopat. "While it certainly disrupts the athlete's ability to stay physically active and involved in their sports play, this injury can impact their academics and ability to go to work and interact with peers. It can also change mood and behavior. In concussion, it is so important to look at the athlete as a whole and individualize their care to promote cognitive, emotional and physical recovery. I look forward to continuing this kind of treatment for athletes in the Kansas City area."
Drs. Bryan and Lisa Vopat are the proud parents of two children and reside in Overland Park, Kansas.