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Dr. Franco Bolsters Sports Medicine Program
By Daniel Casciato

According to Todd Franco, "There has been an ever-increasing interest in staying active in our aging population, not to mention the 'weekend warriors' who just want to remain active or have fun. Within these groups, inevitably people will get injured – whether it is those with training errors, the 'too much, too soon, too fast' type injuries, or a specific traumatic event." When that happens, those people are fortunate that they can turn to someone like Dr. Franco – a sports medicine physician who handles those types of injuries, and more. Dr. Franco recently became associated with The Washington Hospital with a two-part practice. The inpatient portion, which is related to rehabilitation, is based at The Washington Hospital Acute Rehabilitation Unit, while the outpatient and sports medicine-related portion is located at Cameron Wellness Center.

He explained that patients on the rehab side have generally been diagnosed with strokes, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, hip fractures, and the like. The outpatient practice predominantly deals with sports-related injuries, such as ankle sprains, minor fractures, and knee and shoulder injuries.

Part of his practice includes working with people to prevent such injuries. "This is actually a hot topic now in sports medicine," Dr. Franco said. "At the Cameron Wellness Center, we have the Ultimate Sports Training program, run by Jamie Hawk, BS, ACE, CPT. This program focuses not only on performance enhancement, but also on injury prevention. I am closely linked with this program to offer screening and medical advice to the athletes involved."

Dr. Franco also works with professional athletes, currently serving in his first year as head team physician for the Washington Wild Things. He works with athletic trainer Colin Myers to diagnose and treat injuries for the team.

But aside from sports injuries, Dr. Franco said common problems include "over-use injuries or work-related injuries, like tennis elbow or carpal tunnel. And we see many patients on a daily basis with osteoarthritis and, more specifically, knee osteoarthritis." He said conservative treatments can handle some of these issues, or, if they are severe enough, orthopedic surgeons can discuss the option of joint replacement.

After earning a degree in Psychology/Gerontology, Dr. Franco decided to pursue medicine. He narrowed his career choice to physical medicine and rehabilitation, but wanted to find a way to be involved with sports as well. He said that during a fellowship in Sports Medicine at Allegheny General Hospital, "I was approached by my former residency director regarding a position at The Washington Hospital. They were looking to fill the role of Medical Director of their Acute Rehabilitation Unit and were also interested in starting a Sports Medicine Program."

He jumped at the chance and admits, "I couldn't ask for a better fit." Neither can his patients.

Health Tip

When should you see a doctor for a sports-related injury? Dr. Todd Franco offers this advice:

Most sports-related injuries respond well to the R.I.C.E. treatment plan (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), and take anywhere from a few days to two weeks to heal. It's time to visit a sports medicine professional if your pain lasts longer than that, or if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in a joint or bone
  • Pain radiating to another area of the body
  • An injury that is very painful to the touch
  • Significant swelling at the injury site
  • Difficulty moving the injured part
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in the injured area

It's always better to be safe than sorry, so if you are unsure, make a quick visit to a sports medicine professional and get the answers you need.

For more information, you can reach Dr. Todd Franco at (724) 206-0293 or visit www.washingtonhospital.com

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