Get to Know: Dr. Walt Curl

Dr. Walton Curl
Dr. Walt Curl is a Professor/Orthopaedic Surgeon in the Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

     Next week, Curl will take on an additional responsibility as tournament doctor for the Winston-Salem Open.

     He’ll work with the ATP’s regular training staff and will head up a group of local doctors and athletic trainers who are volunteering their time and efforts to the tournament.

     Curl carries the title, but he stresses that this will be a team effort.

     "It’s not just me covering it," he said. "We have a number of physician volunteers that are going to help out, several primary care sports medicine doctors and several orthopaedic surgeons. So we have a cross gamut of covering from the primary care people who can concentrate on things like heat injuries and overuse and things of that nature, and then others who deal with orthopaedic problems. We’ll work hand in hand, and I think that’s going to work out pretty well."

     Curl is widely recognized as one of the tops in his field. He is a past president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, the Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S., the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Hughston Sports Medicine Society among others.

     He has long been a part of the Wake Forest sports scene.

     He served as team doctor and Wake’s Director of Sports Medicine for 15 years before leaving to become the chairman of the Dept. Of Orthopaedics at the Medical College of Georgia in 2002. He returned to Winston-Salem four years ago in his current position.

     "It was just a nice opportunity," he said. "My wife wanted to come back and I had an opportunity to come back and help with the Sports Medicine program and help with some outreach programs and community activities, so it worked out well."

     Earlier, the U.S. Military Academy graduate served as the team doctor at West Point for five years.

     He also served two years in Viet Nam as an infantry platoon leader, and served a stint in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. He has been awarded two bronze stars, which are awarded for bravery, acts of merit and meritorious service.

     Curl is hoping that he doesn’t have to do any work next week, naturally. It’s everyone’s hope that the players come to Winston-Salem healthy and leave heathy.

     But the reality is that injuries happen. Andy Roddick, for example, has been bothered all summer by a strained abdominal muscle. Sam Querrey has been sidelined much of the summer with elbow problems. Others will come to Winston-Salem with various aches and pains.

     "Each different sport has their unique injuries," Curl said. "Of course, hopefully nobody will get injured, but there probably will be people that have elbow, wrist or shoulder problems, hopefully nothing more than tendinitis or overuse. Then obviously the other one that a lot of tennis players get is they can twist their ankle or strain their Achilles tendon or pull a muscle. So those are the kind of injuries we would most likely see. Obviously we hope that doesn’t happen, but we have to be prepared for it."

     The medical staff will also be on guard against the effects of heat.

     The 10-day forecast calls for temperatures in the 80s throughout the tournament, which is far better than the scorching heat of the past few weeks.

     "Obviously, with the heat wave, there’s a big concern about heat and hydration," Curl said. "But right now it is pleasant, so if we can go into next week like this that would be very helpful."