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Q&A: From the NFL, MLB & NBA to PBMC

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Orthopedist Dr. Bryan Hanypsiak, who joined Peconic Bay Medical Center’s Krauss Musculoskeletal Institute in October 2015, is considered one of the nation’s leading sports medicine specialists.

But his most recent achievement is being named editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Orthopedics, a peer-reviewed magazine that publishes original studies, case reports and more. His debut issue in March will have a baseball theme and feature articles by team physicians from Major League Baseball — just in time for spring training — and other stories by talented surgeons.

As former director of medical education at the medical device company Arthrex Inc., Dr. Hanypsiak has published papers and research findings in a number of industry publications. He’s also worked with several professional Cleveland, Ohio, sports teams — including the Browns, Cavaliers, Indians and Barons — and served as attending physician for the summer and winter New York Empire State Games Hockey Tournament, the World Figure Skating Championships, Gravity Games and the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Dual Meet.

Dr. Hanypsiak said the Krauss Musculoskeletal Institute offers many advanced non-invasive treatments that take advantage of the body’s ability to heal itself. With a goal of optimizing the surgical environment for patients, he is also working to keep up with the latest technology and procedures.

We sat down with Dr. Hanypsiak recently to talk about his career and his outlook on the future of his field.

Q: How did you choose your specialty? What/who inspired you to pursue your career?

A: I started school as a business major at the University of Buffalo and a very close friend of mine passed away. It was then that I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to helping others, and I switched to med school at the university. Sports medicine allows me to work with the two things I love most: sports and medicine. I’m fortunate that I truly enjoy going to work every day.

While in school, I played baseball and then played team handball. I wanted to go to the Empire State Games, made the team and played my first Empire State Games in 1988. I then played for another 10 years at both the state and national level. When I injured my knee [in 1994] at the Olympic Festival and wasn’t able to compete the following year, it gave me a unique perspective. Going into sports medicine, I wanted to be able to have my patients come back from their injuries and play their sport.

Q: You have worked with a number of sports teams throughout your career. Is there any particular sport you see cause the most injuries? 

A: I had a great exposure to sports during my residency at George Washington University Hospital and my fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic, and was in Cleveland during LeBron [James’] rookie year, which was exciting. I see patients of all ages in my practice. With the 55-plus crowd, there are a lot of rotator cuff injuries and shoulder replacements. For the pediatric patients to those in their mid 40’s, there are a lot of knee injuries. I frequently see ACL tears with female soccer and basketball players.

Orthopedic surgeons see a lot of injuries from people going to the gym or CrossFit and working out without proper supervision. When you’re new to a workout regime, it’s best to have supervision to make sure you are performing the techniques properly. Injuries happen when you go too hard too fast or use improper technique.

Q: What is the most common injury you treat in your patients?

A: Tears of the meniscus. This occurs when you turn your knee in a different way from your body during sports, being tackled or falling hard on the knee. Rotator cuff tears are another. This is usually degenerative and happens over time, or when someone slips and falls.

Q: What would you say is the most preventable injury you see in your patients? How can they prevent it?

A: Overuse at the gym is highly preventable. Especially when new to a program, you should seek proper supervision to stay safe and healthy.

ACL tears and throwing injuries in young children are also preventable. There’s an 8:1 ratio for girls to boys with ACL injuries in soccer and basketball. Again, a supervised program to train lower extremity muscles in female athletes will drastically reduce the risk of injury. STOP Sports Injuries, [an injury prevention campaign that works with school kids,] offers training programs for grade school to college level sports. [The Krauss Musculoskeletal Institute] also offers programs for sports training.

Q: Is there any one area in your field you find the most challenging? If so, how do you overcome it?

A: A challenge for orthopedics as a whole is the rapid change in technology and procedures. I was a speaker at an orthopedic conference in Hawaii and said if you asked me the number of surgeries I do now the way I did when I was initially trained, the answer would be “zero.” Procedures are very different now than they were then. Now they have faster recovery times and higher success rates. We have to keep up with that, and keep learning and improving to help our patients.

Q: What accomplishment or aspect of your research are you most proud of?

A: I took on a project during my fellowship that had been abandoned by others before me. The goal was to bring patients back 12 years after they had ACL surgery to see how effective it was. You need 80 percent of patients from the original study group and I had to do all sorts of creative things to track people down and convince them to come back to the Cleveland Medical Center. My work resulted in a paper being published for the clinic on how to find people for these studies, which is still used today.

Q: Your research has been published in several industry-related journals. What’s it like to now be named editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Orthopedics?

A: I’m up for the challenge. There were a lot of prominent orthopedists ahead of me, so I have a lot to live up to. I’m appreciative of the faith placed in me and I will do everything I can to repay that faith.

This position combines two other things I love: teaching and orthopedics. I can serve as an educator in a different way. I don’t have residents in my practice anymore, I do all the operations myself, and now I can teach through the journal.

Q: What is your vision for this publication?

A: I want to make each article directly impactful to orthopedist and create a journal the average orthopedic surgeon can’t wait to read. I want readers to learn how they can improve their practice, learn the latest techniques and work smarter and not harder through technology and research.

Q: As a sports medicine specialist, you must watch some sports yourself. Is there a sport you enjoy most? What’s your favorite team?

A: I have four kids and watch them play sports a lot. Whatever team they are playing on is my favorite. We play sports as a family together; I want them to be active while they’re young and carry that into adulthood.

I still play golf, and love that I can still play as well now as I could in my 20s. The great thing about golf is on any given shot you can be just as good as a pro. That’s not true with any other sport. I have a double eagle to my credit, so I know that for at least that one hole I played it just as good as anyone else in the world. Golf is a sport I will continue to play and enjoy doing so.

Top Photo: Dr. Byan Hanypsiak (Credit: Jim Lennon, courtesy Peconic Bay Medical Center)

This story was originally published in the 2016 edition of northforker’s Wellness magazine