Today in Pacific Spotlight, Stripes talksto Lt. Cmdr. John-Paul Rue, M.D., head of orthopedic surgery at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.
What does an orthopedic surgeon do?
Diagnose, care for and treat disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and skin. Basically, we’re glorified carpenters with expensive tools who fix broken bones.
You see a lot of Marines at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. What are some of their more typical noncombat injuries?
My favorite topic … Marines! We see a lot of … knee injuries from football and basketball, shoulder injuries from martial arts training, wrist injuries from skateboarding and hand injuries from off-duty activities at the Hook and Jab on Friday and Saturday nights.
What could servicemembers do most to avoid needing your services?
1.Don’t ride motorcycles. 2. If you have kids, don’t let them jump on a trampoline. 3. If your kids already convinced you to get a trampoline, supervise your children closely on it and only allow one child to jump at a time. Motorcycles, playgrounds, skateboards and trampolines keep us pretty busy.
What do you do to ensure your own bones stay healthy?
I get plenty of exercise chasing my kids around the yard with water guns.
Who’s your favorite TV doctor?
Benjamin Franklin Pierce M.D. (M*A*S*H)
You’re going stateside soon to an assignment involving a lot of work with pro sports teams. What’s that all about?
I will be doing another year of training in a Navy-sponsored fellowship at Rush University in Chicago. I hope to take what I learn about how the group that I will work with deals with injuries in pro athletes and apply them to our warrior-athletes and weekend warrior-athletes (like myself.)
Steroid use gets most of the press but pro athletes actually have been using an array of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture. What would you tell a pro football player — or a Marine — who asked about such treatments?
Stick to the basics: Stay in shape, don’t smoke and don’t ride motorcycles.
What’s your favorite energy food?
Peanut M&Ms and Diet Coke.
When you’re not working, where are you likely to be?
Goofing off with my family or practicing my karaoke singing.
What was your most challenging surgery?
When one of my patients told me, just as he was going under, “Don’t screw up!”
The ones that please you most?
Seeing (a) patient in follow-up after surgery and having them say, “Thanks Doc, I’m good to go!”
This is an incredible time for advances in your field. What especially excites you?
Articular (i.e., joint) cartilage repair. We have lots of young patients (35 is still very young) with early arthritis. Right now in 2005, we don’t have a lot of great options for them. Hopefully in five to 10 years those options will expand to include procedures that can regenerate cartilage in damaged areas. I’m also very interested in advances in shoulder surgery since that is also an area where we see a great deal of injuries in our population.
What’s next for you?
I hope to go to one of the Navy’s teaching medical centers to help train residents (orthopedic surgeons in training.) My ultimate goal is to be the head team physician at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Lt. Cmdr. John-Paul Rue MD
Title: Board-certified orthopedic surgeon; Head, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.
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