Robert Klapper, MD, is director of the Joint Replacement Program and an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group and Cedars-Sinai Health Associates. He is a leader in minimally invasive surgical technique and holds nine patents on specially designed instruments used in orthopedic surgery. He was the orthopedic consultant to the TV show “ER,” and is the co-host of ESPN Radio’s Weekend Warrior. He’s co-authored two books on how to avoid surgery and what to do if surgery is needed: Heal Your Knees andHeal Your Hips.
Dr. Klapper tells people that he was genetically programmed to become an orthopedic surgeon. “My father was a carpenter and my mother was a nurse,” he says. “I always wanted to work with my hands, like my father, but my mom encouraged me to become a doctor.” During his first year of medical school, different specialists come in every week to talk to the students. The sixth week, an orthopedic surgeon spoke with them. “I’d never met an orthopedic surgeon before. He gave a talk that I still remember clear as day about a woman he treated without a socket. He had to use a saw, cut the bone, drill, and create hemispheres. I remember thinking, oh my god, nobody told me I could be a carpenter in the body. There’s nothing else I want to do but that.”
Dr. Klapper’s mixture of art and medicine makes him unique in his field. He majored in art history as an undergraduate at Columbia University and was particularly interested in sculpture. He still sculpts in his free time and gives lectures around the world about the connection between art and medicine. “I really do my best to marry my love of art and sculpture with medicine,” he says. “I think it goes a long way in demystifying the body.”