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- Board Certified 1990
- On Staff: Saint John’s Health Center, Brotman Hospital, Olympia Hospital, Surgery Center of the Pacific, and Twentieth Street Surgery Center
- Provider for most PPOs and Medicare
- Orthopedic Surgery
- Sports Medicine
- Adults and Children
- Stem Cell Therapy
- Arthroscopic Surgery
- Knee Surgery
- Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
- Foot and Ankle Surgery
- Trauma and Fractures
- Spine Disorders
- Athletic Performance and Rehabilitation
Dr. Walter O’Brien has always been involved with sports in some way. While growing up in Kansas he participated in sports all four seasons including football, basketball, track, and baseball. He was an All-Conference lineman in football and played two years in junior college. Playing catcher in baseball and batting clean-up passed the hot, muggy summers away. His greatest athletic achievements were in track and field as he set a high school state record in the discus throw and placed fourth nationally in junior college competition. Contributing to the 1976 University of Kansas Big 8 championship team was one of his greatest thrills ranking as high as seventh in United States Track & Field Federation competition. He graduated with honors earning undergraduate degrees in biology, microbiology, and psychology.
Dr. O’Brien completed his medical school and five year orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Kansas. During medical school he experienced surgery from the patient’s perspective undergoing anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction of his knee. He was fortunate to have been operated on and subsequently mentored by one of the true pioneers of modern day knee reconstructive surgery, Charles Henning, MD. Dr. Henning also was an innovator in the prevention of knee injuries. Pediatric orthopedics is one subspecialty interest of Dr. O’Brien, especially pediatric trauma and fractures. He completed six months of residency at The Childrens’ Hospital in Denver, Colorado under the directorship of Robert Eilert, MD where he extensively studied a potentially serious type of children’s elbow fracture and developed methods for surgeons to minimize permanent deformity.
With a subspecialty interest in sports medicine, Dr. O’Brien embarked upon a unique two year traveling fellowship involving many of the innovative leaders at several meccas of sports medicine. He studied with Ejnar Eriksson, MD at the renowned Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden learning his pioneering techniques in arthroscopy of the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle, and hip. Dr. Eriksson also was a world leader in the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries. Dr. O’Brien traveled to Switzerland and participated in the prestigious A.O. Fellowship program learning state-of-the-art techniques in fracture surgery and worked with Werner Muller, MD, a leading authority on knee ligament surgery. The educational journey also included time in Paris, France studying under the wing of Jean-Yves Dupont, MD as he pioneered work in ligament reconstruction, meniscal repair, and accelerated rehabilitation after knee surgery. The renowned Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital in Toronto, Canada hosted Dr. O’Brien as he learned from Robert Jackson, MD who introduced arthroscopic surgery to North America after observing its birth during a trip to Japan. The highly regarded Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City provided a training grounds as Dr. O’Brien learned from Russell Warren, MD who is known for his cutting-edge work in shoulder surgery and knee reconstruction while serving as team doctor for the New York Giants NFL team. Dr. O’Brien also was fortunate enough to work with another pioneer in knee reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation, Frank Noyes, MD of Cincinnati, Ohio. After completing this remarkable educational experience, Dr. O’Brien moved to southern California and spent his first year in private practice working with Martin Blazina, MD, another pioneer of knee surgery originally from the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic and subsequently of the sports medicine department at UCLA.
Medical research, both basic science and clinical studies, have been a passion for Dr. O’Brien. This has led to numerous publications, awards, and invitations to lecture internationally. His basic science research involves biomechanics of the knee and studying the functional anatomy of knee ligaments to develop surgical techniques to restore injured ligaments. Clinical studies verified his basic science research results as it applies to actual surgical procedures for knee reconstruction. His clinical studies also involve the long-term effects of various types of meniscal surgical procedures. Dr. O’Brien has published research work and scientific articles in the following peer-reviewed orthopedic journals: American Journal of Sports Medicine, Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Operative Techniques in Orthopaedics, Techniques in Orthopaedics, Orthopaedic Transactions, and Transactions of the Orthopaedic Research Society. In addition, he has authored two chapters in a medical textbook about knee surgery: The Crucial Ligaments, Second Edition, JA Feagin (editor).
International medical conferences have provided Dr. O’Brien a venue to lecture and present his research on various orthopaedic and sports medicine topics including meetings by International Society of the Knee, International Arthroscopy Association, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, European Society of Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy, ACL Study Group, Hong Kong Sports Medicine Conference, Western Pacific Orthopaedic Association, and Japanese Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. National medical conferences have also been a forum for Dr. O’Brien to lecture to orthopedic surgeons about his research work on multiple occasions including American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, and Orthopaedic Research Society. Numerous awards have been bestowed upon Dr. O’Brien for his original research contributions to orthopedic surgery by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, International Society of the Knee, European Society of Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy, and Swiss Orthopaedic Association.
Dr. O’Brien became board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1990. He is on staff at several local hospitals including Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, Brotman Medical Center, Memorial Hospital of Gardena, and Olympia Medical Center. He also performs out-patient procedures at Surgery Center of Santa Monica as well as Twentieth Street Surgery Center in Santa Monica.
Brentwood has been home base for Dr. O’Brien’s offices for over twenty years while he has also maintained an office in Malibu. He has supported the Big Brothers association and the Special Olympics in additon to coaching youth sports in soccer, football, basketball, and baseball.