Modesto Bee feature: Dr. Easy Rider

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Dr. Easy Rider: Modesto Doctor keeps Motocrossers revved up

(Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2000)

Jondy Cohen likes to think of himself as sensitive -- motocross sensitive.
The Modesto orthopedic surgeon is in tune with the needs of motocross riders -- athletes who race roaring motorcycles through mud and dust in pursuit of the finish line.

A motocross rider himself, Cohen has made a speciality of treating the athletes by keeping appointments in the office and on the racetrack. He sees about two riders a week, even more when riders converge on Northern California for a series of weekend races.

He's treated some big names in the sport, including Ryan Morais, a 17-year-old from Turlock who is considered the top intermediate rider in the nation. He's also treated Tallon Vohland, Robert Harold, Jeff Pestana and Danny Paladino, all well-known in the sport.

"It's kind of a thrill," said Cohen, 41, a motocross fan from way back.

He took an interest in the sport as a child growing up in Agoura, but his parents wouldn't let him have a motorcycle. Too dangerous, they said.

When Cohen was in high school, his parents gave in. He began riding, but gave it up after he graduated from medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans.

In 1992, he got involved in the sport again when he treated professional motocross racer Jack Azevedo for an injured thumb and arm. Since then, two of his three children -- 10-year-old Logan and 6-year-old Landon -- have taken up the sport.

Cohen figured as long as he was driving his sons to the track, he might as well ride, too. He now competes in races for those 40 years and older.

Hanging out at the racetrack, Cohen made a name for himself as a doctor who treats motocross racers. He knows the riders' race schedules, even keeps track of their wins and losses.

He helps them decide when they can ride again after an injury or when they should bow out of a competition.

Cohen treats riders from throughout the state, but mostly sees patients from the Central Valley and the Bay Area. Recently, he flipped through the spring issue of Motofly magazine, noting photos of riders who also are his patients.

One of his patients, Turlock champion Morais, came to Cohen a few years back when he broke his arm. The rider explained that he needed to ride with the injury in order to qualify for an important race.

Instead of treating Morais at his Stanislaus Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic, the doctor arranged to meet Morais at a track. He posed him on a motorcycle with his arm bent as it would be while riding. Cohen fit a cast on the bent arm and Morais was able to race.

That's not to say Cohen lets athletes take chances. He's the first to advise that they sit out a few months if necessary, his patients say.

"He just knows the right stuff to do," Morais said.

Unlike his parents, Cohen doesn't believe motocross is dangerous -- that is, more dangerous than other sports. Most injuries he sees are fractures, similar to those downhill skiers incur.

Most doctors he knows are against motorcycle riding, but that's because they've seen riders come into the emergency room after being injured on the street or the highway, he said. Street riders may not wear protective clothing, and when they fall, they usually land on asphalt.

Not so during organized motocross races, Cohen said. Pads and helmets are required. Riders fall on dirt, not pavement.

Cohen enjoys treating riders, in part, because it's satisfying to see them come back from an injury to race again. It's exciting for him to help his heroes -- the Steve Youngs and Michael Jordans of the motocross set.

Cohen's excited about treating Morais. The young man, who recently underwent wrist surgery at Doctors Medical Center, will turn pro when he recovers.

"Of all the local guys, he's the one to keep an eye on," he said.


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