Mark Hutchinson, MD
Achieve: Tell us about your experience at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Specifically, how athletes stay healthy, and how much it takes to maintain that level of competition over years.
Dr. Mark Hutchinson: The key to success for health care at the Olympic Games was a team-based approach that took advantage of and optimized everyones skill sets. Before the games, appropriate training programs that avoided overuse yet optimized performance were key. This included nutrition, psych, and physical training a development. At the games, it meant that the medical team was comfortable working together with the singular goal of a healthy and optimized athletic performance. I love the athlete who came in with neck pain that I examined and determined no disc or fracture or serious problem, I partnered with my chiropractic colleague who manipulate the patient, and the physical therapist who did some soft tissue releases, and the athletic trainer who instructed in maintenance exercises. He competed successfully and won a silver medal.
Achieve: Specifically with gymnastics, what are the most important things to keep in mind when treating these high-level athletes?
Dr. Hutchinson: Gymnasts are a unique athlete who have more upper extremity load than other athletes as they use their arms as weight bearing structures. They also perform at heights which increases the potential energy for acute injury. Gymnasts need to progressively skill build and not try over difficult maneuvers before they have progressed to that skill. Perhaps the most common problems fit into the category of overuse. High-level gymnasts spend hundreds of hours in the gym perfecting their skills. Avoiding overuse injuries requires a slow progressive build up of skills and intensity of training, proper performance of each skill for safety, built in rest time during training cycle, and early recognition of problems so that they can be treated and avoid them turning into chronic or catastrophic injury.
Achieve: In your years of experience, what have you seen change in orthopedics, treatment, surgeries, etc.
Dr. Hutchinson: Orthopaedics as a field is every changing and advancing with technology. Better tools and materials, lead to better outcome of surgery or smaller minimally invasive approaches that have less post-operative pain and quicker rehabilitation. Perhaps the most powerful advances have come in post-surgical recovery and rehabilitation. Sports medicine has challenged us to go faster, with earlier range of motion, and early motor strength and at times earlier return to play. This push has challenged us to learn that many people can get back faster with no significant increased risk of failure for certain procedures. This gift from sports medicine has spread through out orthopaedics encouraging more speedy recoveries from total joints, hand surgeries, spine surgeries, etc.
Achieve: How important is the role of PT in proper recovery from shoulder and knee surgeries?
Dr. Hutchinson: High quality physical therapy is ESSENTIAL to optimal recovery for most orthopaedic surgeries but especially knee and shoulder surgeries. I commonly tell my patients that half the pathway to success is for me to put the graft in the right place, 1/2 the battle will be post-operative rehabilitation guided by the physical therapist. Numerous times, the manual approaches of high quality physical therapist has "saved" the good outcome for a post-surgical patient.
Achieve: What is your biggest diagnosis challenge (ACL hamstring vs cadaver, to do ACL on a kid, etc)
Dr. Hutchinson: The most difficult diagnosis for me to deal with is probably hyaline cartilage injury in young athletes. Hyaline cartilage does not heal well by itself and the athlete may be doomed to ultimate progression to arthritis at a very young age. For this reason, we save meniscus whenever we can, prevent recurrent instability which can lead to further cartilage damage, or even perform cartilage restoration as indicated. The key is looking beyond the moment and realizing this young athlete has a lifetime to live on their joint.
Dr. Mark Hutchinson’s office is located at 839 W Roosevelt Rd #102, Chicago, IL 60608 (312) 355-4404