ET doctor tends to Tour de France team

Dr. Kevin Sprouse from East Tennessee shares his story of working as a doctor for athletes taking on the Tour de France.

An East Tennessee doctor is in Europe right now playing a part in one of the summer's biggest sporting events, something he compares to "having the Super Bowl every day for three weeks."

Dr. Kevin Sprouse acts as doctor for one of three cycling teams from the United States competing in the Tour de France bicycling tournament. He treats their injuries, aids their ailments and keeps them focused on the race.

The cyclists cover 2,000 miles during the event, which includes racing in Spain and France.

"My job usually at the race is to sit in the team car and follow the race right behind the riders me," Sprouse said. "If and when there's a crash or a problem you hop out, take care of it, assess the situation, hop back in and continue the race."

It's one of the most grueling endurance events in sports.

Sprouse is an expert in sports medicine. When he is not treating athletes actively competing, he helps prepare them for what lies ahead.

"We use some of this technology that's used at like Olympic training facilities and universities to get a better idea of what's going on with the patient as they exercise and train," he said.

Testing like this helps a cyclist map out his training schedule to make sure when race time arrives, he is ready.

Sprouse spends three days a week here practicing sports medicine and on the other two days he's  an ER doctor.

Riding with the team, Sprouse has learned to improvise. Anything can happen during the race.

"You end up in the mountains, you end up in very rural regions and you get a knock on the door in the middle of the night, it's almost like wilderness medicine. You may not speak the language, you may be two hours from a hospital and you've got to figure out how to manage this illness or injury," he said.

The doctor does get to enjoy some recreation while he's in Europe for the race.

"I get to ride my bike in Belgium and France, the Netherlands and Spain and Italy and they're great places but I really love coming back to East Tennessee and getting to ride," he said.


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