December 2001 Bulletin

Media, consumers get the ‘scoop’ on orthopaedics

Press conference touts latest in injury prevention patient care

Alan M. Levine, MD, shows a young mother how to avoid back pain when carrying her newborn

By Carolyn Rogers

Reporters on the lookout for enticing new story ideas had their pick of them at Orthopaedics Update 2001, an Academy-sponsored press conference for news media held Wednesday Oct. 17 in New York City.

Editors and writers representing more than 20 media outlets turned out to listen to orthopaedic surgeons speak on newsworthy topics ranging from "10 ways for new moms to prevent back pain," to all terrain vehicle safety, to articular cartilage degeneration. The Orthopaedics Update meeting, now in its 11th year, provides media and consumers with the opportunity to learn the latest news on research and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.

Participating media included WPIX-TV-WB Channel 11, Glamour, American Baby Magazine, CBS Parents Magazine, Prevention Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Orthopaedics Today, Women’s Health Orthopaedic Edition, Medscape, Medical Post, Journal of Nutrition for the Elderly and The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine, among others.

Eight orthopaedic surgeons presented information on a varied group of musculoskeletal-related topics. Addressing the media this year were Barry P. Simmons, MD, who discussed injury prevention and treatment in the arts; Mark J, Melhorn, MD, occupations health-ergonomics; Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, hip fracture symposium consensus; Alan M. Levine, MD, new moms and back pain; William G. Hamilton, MD, injuries to dancers; Douglas W. Jackson, MD, articular cartilage degeneration; John M. Purvis, MD, children’s sports injuries; and Scott B. Scutchfield, MD, all terrain vehicle safety.

"Back pain can result whenever you lift or carry a child," Dr. Levine, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said as he offered 10 back pain prevention tips that will reduce injury risk to new moms. As Dr. Levine offered his advice, a young mother and her newborn baby demonstrated the moves for the group. Some of the back pain prevention tips include:

Degeneration of articular cartilage and associated arthritis is among the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States, according to Dr. Jackson, co-author of Symptomatic Articular Cartilage Degeneration: The Impact in the New Millennium, and Academy past president. "It’s the leading cause of limitations in activities of daily living and is second to heart disease in causing work disability," he told the group. "And the population most at risk is increasing in numbers."

Academy past president Douglas W. Jackson, MD, told reporters articular cartilage degeneration is the leading cause of limitations in activities of daily living

Dr. Purvis’ well-received presentation on children’s sports injuries focused on a new study he co-authored which places bicycles, basketball, football and roller sports at the top of the list of recreational activities with the largest number of musculoskeletal injuries among children ages 5-14 years.

Along with many tips on preventing such injuries, Dr. Purvis advised that the number of pitches thrown in children’s baseball practice and competition should be limited to 200 or less for any given week. He also warned that young children should avoid throwing side arm and curve balls.

"It’s safer at age 13 or 14 to start throwing a limited number of curve balls if proper mechanics are taught," he added. "Age 18 is a safer age for throwing a curve ball with regularity."

"The rigors encountered by performing artists are similar to those endured by the professional athlete," Dr. Simmons reported. "They undertake a vigorous regimen of training and conditioning, often eight to ten hours of practice daily. Musicians and other performers are exposed to tremendous amounts of stress in the upper extremities during practices and recitals."

Carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome are the two most common injuries to performing artists, Dr. Simmons said. Fortunately, "the modern musician is better equipped than musicians at any other time to find relief from injury and proactively address causes and preventative measures."

Dr. Simmons concluded his remarks with a set of helpful guidelines performers should follow in order to avoid injury.

Amy Leong, Bone and Joint Decade spokesperson, made a personal disclosure to the group before her presentation. Severely arthritic as a young woman, she had previously been confined to a wheelchair. Leong revealed that simply the ability to attend this meeting, walk from her chair to the podium and walk back, was a major accomplishment for her. She attributed this primarily to the fact that she’d had extensive joint replacement surgery.

"It was a touching, poignant statement that demonstrates again that as orthopaedic surgeons, what we do is still best illustrated by what our patients can do following treatment," says Stuart A. Hirsch, MD, chair of the Academy’s Council on Communications.

Information disseminated at the meeting was picked up and published by a number of media outlets that did not attend the conference, including, Reuters Health, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Self Magazine, Prevention Magazine and

"Building a relationship with members of the press and becoming a source of accurate, reliable information on musculoskeletal care is a goal of the Academy," says Dr. Hirsch. "The topics we choose to present at Orthopaedics Update are those we believe will help the media communicate with their readerships and will help us communicate with our patients. Statistics show that over the course of a year, media stories created in response to presentations made at Orthopaedics Update reach an audience of more than 140,000,000 people… So the meeting is proving to be an ongoing and effective process."

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