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Dr. bob gilbert

Inducted as a Contributor in 2013

by Jay Capell

Whether doing Century bike rides (three per year), saving lives as a Ski Patroller on the slopes of Alpine Meadows, playing tennis, golf, or riding horses on the plains of Mongolia, Dr. Bob Gilbert feels most at home repairing athletic injuries or replacing joints, as one of the most respected orthopedic surgeons in the Country.

Born and raised in Ohio, Bob was a four sport athlete in High School. After graduating from Mt. Union College, he began his medical career at Ohio State School of Medicine. Luckily for us, he was invited to do his residency training at UCSF in 1968. There he specialized in Orthopedic surgery and Rheumatology studies. He was hired at Children’s Hospital in 1972 and this was where his remarkable career in Sports Medicine and joint replacement began.

Over the years his staff has worked with the S.F. Ballet, the Golden State Warriors, the Oakland A’s, and a 27 year humanitarian relationship with Shriners Hospital in San Francisco. There he dealt with juvenile rheumatory arthritis cases involving joint replacement.

He has been a leader in the fields of hip replacement, hip resurfacing, knee repair, and knee replacement. His handball credentials includes the helping of countless tournament and club players, which has resulted in producing: 2 World Titles, 12 National Titles, 3 Hall of Famers, 22 Hall of Fame Tournament titles, and more local titles that can be counted. Bob has “kept us on the court!” Included in the growing list of National Champions are: Mike Kelly, Jerry Fagundes, Vic Aissa, Jerry Kennedy, Gary Stedman, Gary Beaver, Wayne Black, and yours truly. Great Club players such as Rory Moore, Fred Nagle, Frank Rollo, Nick Saribalis, Steve Kalpalkoff, Harry Schlitt, Mike Simenstad, have all kept playing at a high level, and the list goes on.

His pioneering techniques in the sports injury and joint replacement fields are constantly evolving. Bob is well aware of the strains and forces handball takes on our bodies, and the resulting effects on joints, ligaments, and tendons. His handball surgical success rate is unmatched. “Proper rehab is the key,” and Bob notes that “handball players are the best at following my Post Op instructions and restrictions. From the “old days” of the 70’s where crutches were used for 6 weeks Post Op to today’s full weight bearing within 24 hours and winning National Titles within 4 months of joint replacement, how things have changed.

His greatest rewards come during office hours visits. At that time, his Pre Op patients are confident that they will shortly be
back on their feet, and the Post Op patients are usually just saying, “thanks!”

The growing of cartilage in the lab and or joint transplants are future advancements that Bob is actively monitoring. UCSF is pressuring him to cut back on surgery to teach the next generation of young doctors. No one knows what tomorrow will bring in the way of medical advancements, but I’m glad he partially listened to his Mom many years ago when a music teacher wanted Bob to take up the cello. His Mom said, “No way, he’s going to be a football player!” Well, he stayed in the athletic arena, and has been a miracle worker to handball players and athletes alike. 

Although playing handball proved to be difficult on those surgical hands, he has stayed around the game of handball stories and personalities by the constant flow of players streaming through his office.

Thanks Bob for keeping me and all the other players on the court!