“At that time, everyone was wearing a cast except my patients,” he told the Denver Post in 2016. “My patients would move their ankle right away, their knee right away. I was one step ahead of everyone, because I recognized that just because you moved something didn’t mean it wouldn’t heal. In fact, it would heal better. The movement strengthened the tissues.
He has developed new procedures, such as microfracture, a treatment for anterior cruciate ligament injuries in which small cracks are made in the underlying bone, facilitating cartilage growth and faster recovery.
“We would say, ‘There’s only one place to go, and that’s Dr. Steadman,'” Eva Twardokens, former member of the US Ski Team and frequent patient of Dr. Steadman, said during of a telephone interview. “‘He’ll put you back on your skis.'”
John Richard Steadman was born on June 4, 1937, in Sherman, Texas, about 60 miles north of Dallas. Her father, Beverly Steadman, was a colonel in the Air Force and her mother, Mary (Ellis) Steadman, was a homemaker.
His father’s career required the Steadmans to move frequently – for a time they lived in Berlin – before settling outside Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio . Richard excelled in football, baseball and golf. He also excelled in school, and he received a scholarship offer from Harvard in his senior year.
But a phone call from famed football coach Bear Bryant, inviting him to play at Texas A&M, changed his mind. He was a reserve offensive tackle for the Aggies for two years and was hoping to start his freshman year. But his grades were falling and he was determined to go to medical school. He finally worked up the courage to write a letter to the hulking Coach Bryant, explaining why he was quitting.
“He responded and he said he respected my decision,” Dr. Steadman told Sports Illustrated in 1983. “He said he was hoping maybe one day I’d take care of him when I became doctor.”