Dr. Entrepreneur: Lincoln doctor takes on sports injury startup

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Posted: Monday, May 5, 2014 12:00 am

Rob Rhodes was sitting in Nebraska's Memorial Stadium in the fall of 2012 when a player went down with an injury.

Turf toe was the diagnosis, according to reports on the radio and Twitter. But fans asked why you couldn't play with an infected toe nail.

Rhodes, a family medicine doctor with a special interest in sports injuries, understood what turf toe was and why you can't play with it, but a lot of the 90,000 fans in attendance did not. 

And that's where InjuReplay was born.

"Originally, I wanted to be on the big screen with education about certain injuries and injury prevention, but then I thought, why not do it on the iPhone, tablets and desktop?" Rhodes said. 

InjuReplay aims to educate athletes and fans about sports injuries and serve as a tool for a better understanding about definition, diagnosis, treatments and recovery. The user market is wide, ranging from a fantasy football team owner trying to decide who to start or a soccer mom wanting to know more about ankle sprains.

Already the service has garnered plenty of love and attention from the fantasy football and sports TV worlds. 

Big Red Wrap-Up, a weekend Husker football recap on Nebraska Educational Television, uses Rhodes and his app for a weekly segment. He's worked with 247sports.com, a popular recruiting and college football site, and is in talks with the Big Ten Network. InjuReplay also worked with insurance companies and health care facilities to showcase the app.

The InjuReplay Interactive Athlete app, which lists 30 of the most common sports injuries with video explanations, launched on iPhone and Android last November. It was released for Windows phones on Monday and was featured on the front page of Microsoft app store's health and fitness section. 

Rhodes (right) never thought he'd be an entrepreneur, though. He attended the University of South Dakota for college and medical school and then worked for a few different clincs. In 2003, he founded Clinic with a Heart, a nonprofit that gives free medical care to those without insurance. 

It was during a video shoot for the Clinic that Rhodes met Outpost 12, the video firm that went on to invest in InjuReplay and create the interactive 3D athlete graphics as well as the startup's web and mobile apps. InjuReplay also has been able to quickly put together videos to explain injuries that happened during the weeks' football games.

Rhodes was in business.

In 2013, he was accepted to Pipeline, a year-long mentorship and growth program for entrepreneurs started in Kansas City, along with fellow Nebraskans Paul Jarrett of Bulu Box, Matt Medlock of PaySAFE and Leandro Casro of MultiMech. 

"I was the first physician they accepted," Rhodes said. "I applied and took a chance. I just wasn't into having 30 patients a day all the time anymore.

"They took me and made me an entrepreneur."

Although he is still Medical Director of Business Development for Nebraska-based The Physican Network and practices medicine two and a half days a week at Southwest Family Health, he is focusing on InjuReplay more and more. Rhodes works out of Nebraska Global in Lincoln's Haymarket, near several other sports startups. 

"It's fun to be a part of where a lot of things are happening," he said of Nebraska Global. "It will be interesting to see where we and the companies around us are a year from now."

In the future, that may mean creating a product for small high school football coaches who may not have access to a sport medicine professional at every game. 

Right now, it looks like the next year may take him to creating customized apps for health insurers.

"We are really embracing the healthcare opportunity with customized products," Rhodes said.


Credits: Rob Rhodes photo from LinkedIn

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