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Dr. Steven Frey, The Washington Hospital
By Lois Thomson

Dr. Steven Frey tried to be objective, he really did. Even though he was really interested in sports medicine, he tried to give every field an opportunity for consideration during his residency. "From the point I decided to be a doctor, it always seemed to make sense that I would go into sports medicine; but throughout my training, throughout medical school, I always did keep an open mind. But as it turned out, I enjoyed sports medicine the most; I enjoyed orthopedic surgery and, more specifically, the sports aspect of it."



With high school football season in full swing, Dr. Steven Frey, an orthopedic and sports medicine specialist at The Washington Hospital, said it's more common for him to see a player after he suffers an injury, rather than someone who comes in for preventive advice. However, Dr. Frey can offer a few precautions:

- Use proper mechanics while playing and especially when tackling

- Train appropriately

- Stretch and warm up appropriately

- Enjoy the game!

Dr. Frey said ACL and meniscal injuries are among the more common injuries in high school football, along with stingers. Stingers are neck injuries that usually occur during tackles. The nerves are squeezed as they come out of the spinal columns in the neck, and as they go down the arm, the person's arm will feel numbness, tingling, or a dead sensation, as a result of the nerve being pinched. "That's where the proper form comes in, proper tackling, to try to eliminate or minimize the risk of those types of injuries."


Dr. Frey, who specializes in orthopedics and sports medicine at The Washington Hospital, said sports has a specific set of injuries that varies from recreational athletes and weekend warriors, right on up to college and professional athletes. "And my training is ideal to take care of the whole range of that."

That training began with medical school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., followed by an orthopedic residency in Monmouth Medical Center in Central New Jersey, followed next by a trip to Western Pennsylvania for a sports medicine fellowship at Allegheny General Hospital. Dr. Frey added, "My wife is from Pittsburgh so it was a big draw for us to come out this way."

Dr. Frey and his family—he and his wife have two children—moved to Pittsburgh earlier this year. "I had spent a year in Philadelphia right after I finished my fellowship before coming back here to this area, because we love it here, this is where we wanted to be."

Now established at The Washington Hospital, Dr. Frey said the most typical sports injuries are overuse injuries of the legs brought about by running, and also those within the knee, such as meniscal tears and ACL or ligament tears. In the shoulder, he mentioned instability, labral tears, and rotator cuff injuries, the latter of which tend to be associated with an older population. Elbow injuries are a part of his practice, too, along with stress fractures, tendonitis, muscles, ligaments, and other overuse-type injuries. He added that a lot of sports medicine involves arthroscopic surgery, which is minimally invasive.

Interestingly, while Dr. Frey handles the whole array of problems, he said he has a particular fascination with shoulder instability. "I don't know why, and as odd as it may sound, it's my favorite surgery to do. I think a lot of people view it as a complex surgery, and for whatever reason, I feel like I have a lot of success with it. My patients do very well, and it's one (aspect) I just enjoy taking care of."

But his first priority is to try to avoid surgery. "I take pride in being able to try to get someone better without having to resort to surgery," he said. "But of course that's not always the situation because some injuries do require surgery. And after surgery, I like to see patients right on through, have a hand in their recovery, their rehab, their physical therapy. And whether a patient has had surgery or not, I try to direct a lot of the physical therapy they're going through right up until full recovery."

Along with providing excellent and appropriate treatment, Dr. Frey likes to help patients feel comfortable and explain what is going to be involved in their care. "I think I generally do a very good job of explaining to the patient, as well as the patient's family, making it simple, breaking it down into understandable terms. I always keep the patient's best interests in mind in all of my decision-making processes."

His busy practice has cut down on his time for sports, but they were a large part of his background. In high school he played football, wrestling, and lacrosse, ran cross country, and played soccer. In college he stuck exclusively with wrestling, and after college transitioned into endurance sports, including competing in multiple triathlons, a couple of adventure races, and a marathon.

"I can't remember when I decided I wanted to be a doctor. I liked biology and science, and I've always been heavily involved in sports. It just always seemed to make sense for me."

For more information, call 724-206-0610 or visit www.washingtonhospital.org

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