K. Donald Shelbourne, MD

Finding Better Ways to Treat Knee Injuries

When he was an All-American football player studying chemistry at Wabash College, K. Donald Shelbourne, MD, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The injury stoked Dr. Shelbourne's interest in helping other athletes with knee injuries. He decided to become an orthopedic surgeon who focused only on knees.

Helping Patients Get Back to Life

Helping patients get off the sidelines and back to living, working and playing has always been Dr. Shelbourne's goal. Treatments at Shelbourne Knee Center focus on what works best, based on 40+ years of research and follow-up with the Center's patients.

Continually Improving Results Through Research

Dr. Shelbourne began doing research based on his patient outcomes early in his career, after the mother of a 15-year-old girl whose torn ACL he had rebuilt asked him a question he couldn't answer. She wanted to know what would happen to her daughter's knee in 20 years. So Dr. Shelbourne developed a research program to answer questions like this and to learn:

  • What works best in treating knee injuries.
  • What problems related to treatment of knee injuries could be solved.

Since then, Dr. Shelbourne has been collecting data on his patients and using the results to continually improve care for other patients with knee injuries and conditions.

Developing Innovative Treatments for Knee Problems

Dr. Shelbourne has developed many advanced treatments for knee injuries, including:

  • A way to rebuild a torn ACL using a tendon from the non-injured knee that results in faster recovery and better, more predictable results.
  • An accelerated ACL reconstruction rehab program that helps injured athletes return to sport safely and faster. Physical therapists around the world use this program.
  • Pre-op rehab (physical therapy), which helps patients get stronger before surgery, have a better result from the procedure, and recover faster after surgery. Many patients with knee arthritis who thought they needed a knee replacement don't need surgery after completing physical therapy.
  • Better surgical treatment and physical therapy for meniscus tears.

Establishing Shelbourne Knee Center

In 2004, Dr. Shelbourne established Shelbourne Knee Center, the only orthopedic practice in Indiana that focuses exclusively on knees.

Shelbourne Knee Center offers doctor's appointments, X-rays and physical therapy onsite. Dr. Shelbourne and Dr. Rodney Benner work as a team with the physical therapists and athletic trainer to develop the best treatment plan for each individual patient. The Shelbourne Knee Center research program tracks patient outcomes and studies factors related to those outcomes to determine how to improve treatment for knee injuries and conditions. Members of the research staff include a research manager/medical writer and two research coordinators. Physical therapists and the athletic trainer also participate in research.

Dr. Shelbourne and Dr. Benner perform surgery at Community Hospital East, which is part of Community Health Network, central Indiana's leader in providing convenient access to exceptional healthcare services.

Dr. Shelbourne has published more than 150 journal articles and 40 book chapters. He also shares his knowledge with orthopedic surgeons worldwide through presentations and speeches.


  • Orthopedic and arthroscopic knee surgery
  • ACL reconstruction
  • Other knee ligament reconstruction
  • Patella (kneecap) realignment
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation



Honorary Doctor of Science, Wabash College, 2001
M.D., Indiana University Medical School, 1976
B.A., Chemistry, Wabash College, 1972


Sports Medicine Fellowship,University of Wisconsin, 1981–1982
Orthopaedic Surgery Residency, Indiana University Hospital, 1977–1981
Internship, Methodist Hospital, 1976–1977

License and Board Certification

Indiana State Medical License
American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

Athletic Recognition

Indiana HS Wrestling Hall of Fame
Wabash College Athletic Hall of Fame

Practice and Teaching

Private Practice

Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
The Shelbourne Knee Center, 2004–present
Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
Methodist Sports Medicine Center, 1982–2004


Indiana University School of Medicine Associate Clinical Professor
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Activities and Honors

Sports Team Coverage

The Indianapolis Colts, 1984–1998
Pro Bowl, Hawaii, February 1997 and 1990
Cathedral High School, 1994–2005
North Central High School, 1992–1994
Warren Central High School, 1976–1992

Orthopedic Consultant

Purdue University, 1982–present
Wabash College, 1982–present


American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Hall of Fame
For outstanding lifetime contributions to the field of sports medicine Inducted in 2016

T. David Sisk Award for Best Review PaperAmerican Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 2012 "Osteoarthritis after Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: The Importance of Regaining and Maintaining Full Range of Motion." K. Donald Shelbourne, Heather Freeman, Tinker Gray. Sports Health. Jan/Feb 2012;pp.79-85.

The Hughston Award
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 2010 The only person to receive the Hughston Award twice "Minimum 10-Year Results After ACL reconstruction: How the loss of normal knee motion compounds other factors related to osteoarthritis after surgery." K. Donald Shelbourne, MD, and Tinker Gray, MA The American Journal of Sports Medicine, March 2009, pp. 471-480.

The Hughston Award
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 2010 "The Natural History of Acute, Isolated, Nonoperatively Treated Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: A Prospective Study" K. Donald Shelbourne, MD, Thorp Davis, MD, and Dipak Patel, MD The American Journal of Sports Medicine, May/June 1999, pp. 276-283.

Division III Wrestling Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2011

President's Challenge Award
National Athletic Trainers' Association, 2005

Spirit of the Monon Bell
Man of the Year, 2004

The Indiana Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2000


ACL Study Group
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American College of Sports Medicine
The American Orthopaedic Association
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Arthroscopy Association of North America
Herodicus Society
Indiana Bone and Joint Club
International Arthroscopy Association
Marion County Medical Society
Mid-America Orthopaedic Association

Editorial Boards

Physician and Sports Medicine
Sports, Exercise and Injury
American Journal of Sports Medicine
Operative Techniques in Sports Medicine

Other Professional Activities

National Athletic Trainers' Association