An Alternative Approach to Orthopedic Medicine

Orthopedics The dictionary defines it as the medical specialty concerned with the preservation, restoration and development of form and function of the musculoskeletal system. From preventing the early retirement of the star athlete, to ensuring the enjoyable retirement of the aging baby boomer, the need for advancing the science of Orthopedics has never been greater. Technically orthopedics began in the19th century but evolved to become recognized as a true specialty in the early 20th century. The specialty involves not only the diagnosis and treatment of conditions but also the surgical management of problems, it encompasses a variety of conditions that include traumatic, congenital, arthritic, and work related problems.

Most orthopedists or orthopedic surgeons work out of individual or small group practices, or are associated with a department of a general hospital. For the patient this can mean seeing one physician for an initial consultation, then needing to go to an imaging center for diagnostic tests, and finally a third facility for physical therapy or surgical treatment. A group of orthopedic specialists from Park Nicollet Health Services and the University of Minnesota are attempting to change all that. The team of professionals lead by Doctor David Fischer, have opened the doors to what may well be the nations first-of- its kind, comprehensive orthopedic care center. It is called TRIA. “TRIA is unique in its components as well as its business structure. It’s unique in how a large community health service has been put together with a major academic department and a focused group of community physicians in a unique geography and a facility of it’s own that allows us to incorporate the technologies that medicine now demands and patients deserve.” Says Dr. Fischer.

It has been well established through practice and clinical study, that the person suffering from an orthopedic condition in one part of the body will commonly need treatment in another area. This often requires referral to different specialists in different practices, even though a general orthopedist is familiar with the entire musculoskeletal system. At centers like TRIA, experts in hands, feet, knees, hips, even sports medicine, are all be available under one roof. According to Dr. Marc Swiontkowski Chairman of the Orthopedic Surgery at University of Minnesota. “What’s unique in the orthopedic center is that we will have a large group of experienced surgeons working shoulder to shoulder in a facility that’s large enough and dedicated enough towards improving techniques so that it’s not just a matter of simply delivering excellent care which we certainly will do. But we will have a focus on trying to develop better methods of managing these injuries using state of the art technologies and working with partners who are interested in developing the next generation of imaging techniques, intra-operative imaging techniques, of implants that will achieve these goals through even smaller invasive techniques.”

The comprehensive nature of the center extends to serving the community as well as the patient. Educational and outreach programs will be offered for the public, as well as accredited training programs to University of Minnesota medical students. “In essence we see the TRIA center as an opportunity to provide a training experience for the next generation of orthopedic residents so that they will be more familiar with the management of patients with more common disorders which is what they’re going to see when the go out in practice.” Says Dr. Swiontkowski. “One of our charges as an academic group is to produce new information on which to base the practice ands to share that with the local community and the national and international community. What the TRIA center gives us is an opportunity to study a larger population of common injuries and problems in one setting.”

Patients say they have been fortunate to have been able to talk with several different doctors with so much expertise in their given fields.

Combining resources has always been a practical way to face a challenge. Taking this idea and applying it to the field of orthopedics is helping doctors find ways to stay one step ahead of disease.

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