Caregiver and Competitor: Dr. Joseph Alleva Sets a Fitness Example for His Patients

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 2:59 PM comments (0)

Dr. AllevaJoseph Alleva, MD, Division Head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, walks the walk: he encourages his patients to keep active and sets an example by staying active himself. Dr. Alleva trains in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, competing annually in senior division (over 45) championship. By varying his work out and pushing himself physically, Dr. Alleva prevents overuse injury, manages stress levels and maintains his fitness level.

Here, Dr. Alleva tells us what inspired him to get involved in the world of MMA and how he has overcome his own injuries to continue to compete in the sport he loves:

As a doctor, you encourage your patients to stay fit. How do you keep yourself fit and healthy?
I train in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu , both of these disciplines are critical in MMA (mixed martial arts). In the gyms I train in, there are MMA fighters both professional and amateur; therefore, when they want to hone their skills with regard to these disciplines they will train with us. 

How long have you been involved in these sports? What first piqued your interest in/passion for martial arts?
I have been involved in this sport since my early teens. My older brother was a golden glove boxing champion. I was inspired by him and also was his training partner. 

You’ve competed at the senior level world championship in Judo. What steps have you taken to continue competing at such a high level?
I try to qualify for the senior championships in judo and or Brazilian jiu-jitsu annually, so I train in these disciplines through the year and cross train—swim, weight train, bike, run—to avoid overuse injury, control my weight and remain conditioned. I train daily and there are days when I get in a second session of training.

Have you had to overcome any injuries?  How have you prevented further injury?
Ironically, I contend with neck and lower back problems on and off. I can sympathize with my patients who have experienced pain that has prevented them from doing the things in their lives that they enjoy. 

Dr Hudgins (also part of our spine center) has managed my diagnostic tests, treatment and rehabilitation. With his supervision I have been able to maintain my competitive spirit.

What does competing mean to you?
Staying active has long been established as having many health benefits—cholesterol control, diabetes control, pain control, heart health, weight maintenance and more. But, beyond this it helps me manage my stress and by setting goals and varying my activities it makes it a fun activity. That's the key to maintaining an active lifestyle. Exercise never feels like a burden. 

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Sports Injury Prevention: Common Sports Injuries & How to Prevent Them [Infographic]

Monday, February 17, 2014 9:44 AM comments (0)

Developing a regular exercise routine is one of the most important elements of a healthy lifestyle, and roughly 53% of Americans show their agreement by exercising three or more days a week. However, participation in any physical activity, whether it's hitting the gym or the slopes, increases your risk for an exercise-related injury. Still, the health benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks, as long as you approach each new physical activity and sport armed with the right information.

Get fit but also stay safe with the help of our sports injury prevention infographic. Learn how to recognize common sports injuries that affect both athletes and energetic amateurs and use our simple, easy-to-follow sports injury prevention tips to keep you pain free and active. Click on the link to view our full NorthShore University HealthSystem infographic.

infographic

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Undergoing and Recovering from ACL Surgery

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 10:55 AM comments (0)

skiierFor an athlete there is nothing worse than suffering a sports injury that takes him/her out of competition. While some injuries require more rest and rehabilitation than others, those who undergo surgery for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury need to take it slow before heading  back into play.

In most cases, ACL surgery is done through small incisions, or arthroscopic surgery, rather than open surgery. Not only does this help reduce scarring and decrease recovery time but it can also help reduce complications and risks. Often the surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient won’t have to spend even a night in the hospital. Outpatient surgery doesn’t make recovery any less serious, however. 

Patrick Birmingham, MD, Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at NorthShore, shares his tips for ensuring a safe and speedy recovery from ACL surgery:

  • Follow your doctor's orders. The last thing you want after you’ve undergone surgery is to suffer from an infection. Make sure your incision stays properly dressed, clean and dry to reduce this risk.  Don’t submerge under water until your doctor says it’s OK.
  • Be vigilant about your physical rehabilitation schedule or routine. It may take months or up to a year to return to some of the same activities you were involved in prior to your surgery. Be sure to stay in close contact with your physical therapist and don’t forget to do any recommended exercises at home, too.
  • Don’t be afraid to rest. If you are sore, remember to ice and elevate. Don’t push yourself beyond your comfort level. You should be able to manage your pain, and when you can’t, rest.  It’s also very important to get restful sleep because this will aid your recovery as well.
  • Follow instructions carefully. The tendon graft can take from six to twelve weeks to heal, so all of the post-operative instructions should be followed to protect the graft.

Have you had ACL surgery or know someone who has? 

 

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Part of the Team: Steven Levin, MD, Travels to Japan with the US Rugby Team

Friday, July 26, 2013 11:02 AM comments (0)

drlevinSteven Levin, MD, Sports Medicine at NorthShore, has been a team physician with the US Rugby Team for ten years, acting as their head physician during the Rugby World Cup in France in 2007. He has travelled with the team all over Canada, England, Wales, France and now Japan. He shares what it’s like to care for these daring athletes at the top of their game during a recent tournament in Japan.

We’re in Japan for the Pacific Cup, which includes teams like Canada and Tonga as well. We arrived in Nagoya, Japan after almost 20 hours of travel from Los Angeles. We played Tonga the night before we left LA and lost in a tough game 18-9. Luckily there were no major injuries on either side, although it looked like the Tongan team had several play stoppages for apparent injuries. In reality, it seemed as though the Tongans were mainly cramping up due to the physical game the US team played. Nonetheless we did lose a close game that we felt we were capable of winning.

Rugbyteam

Since I have been with USA Rugby I have gotten a bit of a reputation as a "rugby doc" and take care of many local and regional rugby players. I specialize in shoulders and knees and have operated on many of these players with shoulder and knee injuries. It is particularly rewarding to see so many get back in the game after recovering from surgery or rehab and then continue to play at such a high level.

During a game, the most common injuries that I see in rugby players are laceration, muscle, ligament and tendon strain, tears, concussions and occasionally fractures. There are no timeouts in rugby. As a physician I have to work fast, diagnose the problem and fix it quickly or the player must be substituted. If he is substituted then he can't return under the rules of the game, so there is a great deal of pressure to get the player back as quickly as possible if medically cleared. If the player has any type of bleeding injury, I have 10 minutes to get it under control (i.e. suture it) or the player is not allowed to return. It’s fast-paced and intense. But I enjoy it. 

I also really enjoy the camaraderie I have with the players. Rugby players are the toughest, purest, and most appreciative athletes I have had the pleasure to work with and treat.

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