Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Interview With Dr. Christopher Geary About Big Ben's Injury

Mark Barron of the St. Louis Rams sacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday afternoon causing Big Ben to go down and Steeler Nation to go into complete panic mode. Around the time that Roethlisberger was carted off the field, I saw this tweet from Dr. Christopher Geary, Orthopedic Surgeon and Chief of Sports Medicine at Tufts University Medical Center.

While Roethlisberger has an MCL injury to his left knee, multiple reports suggest that the franchise QB will miss approximately 6 weeks, a big difference than being out for the season. Therefore, I reached out to Dr. Geary for his thoughts on the initial tweet and the Big Ben's current diagnosis.

Please tell me and my readers about yourself. How did you get into medicine and decide on your specialty?

I kind of always figured I would go into orthopedics and I really enjoyed it in medical school. And I had played sports my whole life (including playing rugby right through medical school), so sports medicine was a natural choice for me.

You made some waves on Twitter on Sunday by writing that Ben Roethlisberger's season was over. How did you come to this assessment?

Is it difficult to make a medical diagnosis by seeing an injury on television?

At Monday's press conference, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that there is no timetable for Big Ben's return; however, many sources estimate that he will miss 4-6 weeks. Any new thoughts about this based on your initial tweet?
(Sean's note: I combined all of these questions together since Dr. Geary provided this response to all three questions at once.)

As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and also a huge sports fan (mostly Boston, obviously), I watch games for enjoyment but I can't help but be on the lookout for injuries as they happen. Making diagnoses based on what you see on TV is fraught with difficulty - I was actually watching the replays of Roethlisberger's injury on an 8-inch screen while riding an exercise bike at a hotel gym - but you can usually get something of an idea based on the mechanism of injury and the player/trainers reactions.

My initial tweet about his injury was to Scott Zolak, and I actually referenced a bad MCL injury as my first thought but obviously my subsequent tweets got more play. My thoughts were that if he had an ACL/MCL or a fibula fracture that his season would be over - thankfully for the Steelers this isn't the case. It's tough to say when he will be back - it could be anywhere from 4-8 weeks based on what I have seen in my patients. It will depend on how quickly he is able to move without pain and regain his range of motion - MCL injuries do tend to get stiff. He has the advantage of having a great training staff available to work with him every day, so his recovery may be on the short end.

In looking at your timeline, I didn't see any tweets from you to Scott Zolak, only the one that stated "Most likely an ACL/MCL for Roethlisberger-other possibility is a high fibula fracture w/ syndesmosis injury. Either way, season over."

You're right - I went back and checked and that Tweet either never went through or got deleted. It did exist at some point, though - you'll have to take my word on that even though I'm a Pats fan...

I really appreciate Dr. Geary's quick responses to my questions. We both spent time in San Diego (Dr. Geary mentioned that "San Diego was amazing" and that he "would move back there in a heartbeat if it wasn't so damn expensive." I agree!) and are obviously sports fans. He also was a good sport about this question.

Finally, your Twitter profile picture shows you shirtless. Does this make you the Dr. McDreamy of Tufts Medical Center?

I hate Grey's Anatomy.

Please make sure to follow Dr. Geary on Twitter and you can see his complete bio on the Tufts Medical Center website.

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