Chattanoogan: Brett Moldenhaur - Olympic Star

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - by Ferris Robinson
Dr. Brett Moldenhaur used acupuncture to help Dee Dee Trotter win a medal at the Olympics.
Dr. Brett Moldenhaur used acupuncture to help Dee Dee Trotter win a medal at the Olympics.

Brett Moldenhaur has always dreamed of making it to the Olympics. He just thought it would be through his tae kwon doe expertise. 

Decades after the two-time Olympic hopeful was disappointed in the Olympic trials, Brett not only was in the thick of the 2012 Olympics in London, but was a superstar. And his athletic ability had nothing to do with it. 

An acupuncturist at the Institute for Acupuncture and Wellness in Chattanooga, Dr. Moldenhaur's journey to London in August began a few years ago when he accompanied his nephew on a recruiting visit to UT in Knoxville. "His parents couldn't make it down from Pennsylvania and he was meeting the couches about a track scholarship so I just went with him. I'd rehabbed his injuries through acupuncture, so when they asked about his peak in performance after a valley, my nephew just pointed at me," Brett said. And suddenly all the attention was on Brett. His nephew ended up running at a smaller school, but the coaches took Brett's business card. 

Brett didn't give the exchange a second thought until his phone rang months later. The coaches at UT were absolutely stumped over world class athlete Dee Dee Trotter. The first Lady Vol track and field underclassman ever to win an Olympic medal, Dee Dee's future looked stellar. A graceful, fluid runner, she was 'poetry in motion' according to Brett and had won the gold in several relay events. In 2007, her ultimate goal of an Olympic gold medal in an Olympic event was in all likelihood shattered along with her knee when someone accidentally slammed a car door on her leg. She pushed through the pain, running injured in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

Unbeknownst to her, there was a bone chip whirling around inside the joint, and by the time she finished the race, the inside of her knee was shredded, almost like the blade of a Cuisinart  had pulverized it. Even after surgery, her knee was never the same. But her dream was. 

"Poor Dee Dee," was the popular sentiment about the youngest college athlete ever to turn pro. The one who almost had it all.  Dee Dee continued to train and complete, but her times were nowhere close to where they had been, or needed to be. 

Before the coaches in Knoxville called Brett, they'd exhausted every other venue of rehabilitation for her. Brett agreed to meet with her and see if there was anything he could do. After one session with Dee Dee, she hopped off the table and touched her toes for the first time in three months! Immediately realizing Brett was an integral part of her healing, thus her training, she saw him regularly. When she moved to Orlando to train at the National World Championship Training Center, she wouldn't consider any other acupuncturist except "Dr. Needles."  "Actually the Allegiant flight down to Orlando was easier than driving to Knoxville," Brett says.  

He got to know Dee Dee well, and learning as much as possible about his clients is important to Brett. "I'm a lot like a hairdresser in that I listen to the client as I work." So he gets the total picture of the person, not just an isolated body part. 

At the 2012 Olympics, Dee Dee Trotter, the comeback kid, was THE story. She had an Olympic gold medal for the 4x400m relay in 2004, but didn't compete in 2008 because of her injury. No one expected her to even qualify for the London games. But not only did she take another gold in the relay, but she brought home a bronze medal in the 400 meter race. She medaled in the individual, her lifelong goal! 

Dee Dee deferred much of her media attention to Brett, crediting him with her recovery. And just like in that initial meeting with the UT coaches, the focus in London was on this miracle worker who rehabbed "Poor Dee Dee." 

This one client has actually changed Brett's life. He gets hundreds of emails with invitations to speak at universities all over the country, and is already making plans for the 2016 Olympics, as well as working on a book. He lives on Lookout Mountain with his wife, Robin and two young sons, Will and Eli. But he works all over the world.

(Brett earned his master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine at the Florida Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine in St. Petersburg, Fl. He completed his advanced studies at the ZheJiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hang Zhou, China and received his diplomate from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Mr. Moldenhauer is the association president for the state of Tennessee (Tennessee Acupuncture Council) and is a faculty lecturer on Chinese medicine for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His clinic serves as a provider for elective rounds in acupuncture for second and third year residents of the UTC college of medicine. Mr. Moldenhauer has his full hospital privileges with the anesthesia department in the Erlanger Hospital systems. Mr. Moldenhauer is an expert witness for the Tennessee House and Senate and has been instrumental in the acupuncture policy making in the state of Tennessee. He is a four time military gold medalist in Taekwondo, serving on two All Army, Two Armed Forces and two world CISM military Taekwondo Teams. He is a certified world class military athlete by the department of the Army sports and was a member of the United States Olympic training Center Team and a permanent resident athlete at the Olympic training center in Colorado springs. He served in the US Army on a Airborne High Altitude Long Range Surveillance Detachment (LRSD ABN) Team 15 and is a full member of the 75th Airborne Ranger Regiment Association.)

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