Talking Trauma with ROMTech’s Stephen Creevy
Toree: Hi, I’m Toree McGee, and this is The Rapid Recovery Report, sponsored by ROMTech, the modern technology of rehabilitation. Welcome to another episode of our program. I know that we took last week off, so I hope that you took the time to kind of catch up on some of the great episodes that you may have missed. But for those of you that might be tuning in for the very first time, hi.
We do this every Thursday at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Eastern. And we talk to a whole mass of people, surgeons, patients, insiders here at ROMTech, and we discuss wellness, health. We also often touch on ROMTech’s devices, like the PortableConnect.
If you’re new to ROMTech, our PortableConnect is a high-tech recovery device that is geared at getting patients moving. Here it is right there. Moving and onto recovery faster after injuries and surgery. So, if you wanted to learn a little bit more about us at ROMTech, you can visit us at www.romtech.com, and follow us on the social handles that are listed below and in the description.
ROMTech’s Central Sales Manager, Stephen Creevy
So, we actually have one of our very own on the show today. I’m super excited to be talking to him. He’s a lot of fun. So, Stephen Creevy is a rising ROM star, who caries our central sales manager role here at ROMTech. He graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelors in finance and biology. And Stephen has a really rich background in athletics. He served on the Ohio State University woman’s volleyball coaching staff. And he’s also worked in trauma and sports medicine before joining our team at the very very beginning of this year.
So, thanks for being with us, Stephen.
Stephen: Hey Toree, thanks for having me. Excited to going into it with you.
Toree: Absolutely. It’s fun for me to do these with folks that are at ROMTech. But Stephen and I work in the same division, so we kind of get to hang out with each other throughout the day. Which is really kind of fun to be able to delve into your background a little bit more, other than just kind of answering surgeon and staff questions all day.
Stephen: For sure. Happy to be here.
Toree: Cool. So, can you tell us a little bit about what drove you or motivated you to pursue a career in orthopedic implants? So, that’s where Stephen came from, was in implants. And then eventually, into rehab technologies here with ROMTech.
Stephen: Yeah. So, I was kind of raised in the healthcare scene for the most part. My mom was a PACU nurse my childhood. My sister recently became a nurse practitioner, so we’re very proud of her. But also, I grew up with a kind of coaching and teaching household as well. With my dad kind of always being involved with my athletics and a little bit with my schoolwork as well.
So, always had an interest in healthcare, had some family that was in the recon rep side of things, so for hip and knee replacements. So, I have an uncle that kind of served as a mentor, getting me involved in the field. And for this role specifically at ROMTech too, I saw an opportunity to blend my passion of teaching and education with my interest in medicine and healthcare as well.
Toree: So, you’ve actually been in the OR, kind of teaching surgeons, right, on which different parts to use with which product during implants, and all of that sort of thing, yeah?
Stephen: Yup. So, within the trauma and sports medicine experience that I had as a rep, it’s a really cool exposure, because you figure out how much of a team sport the operating room really is. Obviously, we got a surgeon who knows all, and is calling the shots, but there is a lot of support roles where you kind of help orchestrate the team a bit, so it really involves everybody from the scrub tech, which is organizing the instrumentation. And they’re the ones you always see in the movie, like pass me the scalpel, hold everything around, with the organization side of things. But you got a radiologist taking shots to confirm placement, especially in orthopedics. And then you got the PA and the nurses as well that are supporting. They might be retracting muscle, or helping the surgeon see what exactly they’re trying to work on.
Working as a Trauma Rep
Toree: Okay, all right. Now, what did you do in the OR as a rep?
Stephen: So, the role as a rep in the OR is really making sure that the staff is educated on any preferences that the surgeon might have for a procedural approach. And especially in the trauma world, because you have a general idea of what you’re looking at going in, but it can be a curve ball when you finally open up the patient, and see with your own eyes. So, being able to have backup equipment available and planning accordingly with the support staff to make sure that that’s running smoothly for the surgeons, for the hospital, and obviously above all, for the patient.
Toree: Absolutely. So, before we kind of hop, I guess, a little bit into it further, I’d like to just kind of ask you. The role that you’re in now here with ROMTech is definitely not an OR role. Now, we’re working more in PT and staff education that way. And it’s not necessarily that you were patient-facing in the OR, but they were at least in there. I mean, how do the two compare to each other, as far as like your enjoyment, or is it kind of along the same level for you?
Stephen: I would say I definitely continue to appreciate aspects of my role now at ROMTech, but there’s parts of the OR that you miss. Like I mentioned, it was a team environment, but in my role now, where you’re kind of in one room, impacting finite amount of people and one patient at a time. I found a lot of joy in this role with being able to kind of access and help more patients on their rehab journey, which isn’t to say that that’s more important than the surgical resolution side of things, but the breadth in which we’re able to impact is a little bit greater.
Toree: Yeah, absolutely. Now, what were some of the most common cases that you saw as a trauma rep?
Stephen: It’s kind of a fun thing about trauma. Not that the injuries themselves are enjoyable for anyone involved, but you don’t really have a plan going into the next day. You don’t know what you’re going to see necessarily. And kind of seasonal aspect of trauma is you’re going to see more broken hips or wrists when it starts to get icy outside, and people don’t expect it. There are some seasonal injuries, but car accidents are more common throughout the year, so there’s going to be some high impact injuries that would be like a pilon fracture or a tibial plateau fracture, where joints are kind of being forced together, and there’s a bit of a splintering or a crushing fracture pattern in those patients.
Toree: Okay. Now, tibial plateau fracture, I mean that’s obviously leg, tibia. So, tell us about a pilon fracture. What is that, and how would you approach something, I assume it’s complex?
Stephen: Yeah, for sure. So, they kind of both are the same mechanism of injury. Each of those are, like I said, are common in car accidents because of a high impact velocity. So, if you think about your ankle bone or your ankle joint being composed primarily of three bones, so your talus is kind of your center foot bone. Your tibia will sit on top of that, and also act as your medial ankle bone. And then you have the fibula on the outside, which is going to be your lateral ankle bone as well.
So, in the event of a car crash or jumping or landing from significant fall, from a reasonable height, your foot bone kind of punches up into that tibia. And if you’re not taking or unloading that energy with your knees, then that impact is just going to go right up through the tibia. So, that’s when, as a joint as a whole, it kind of becomes a big issue, because you’re having a fracture that goes ups into the shaft of the tibia, and there’s a lot of destabilization through that injury.
A tibial plateau facture on the other hand, similar impact, but you can think of it more as like a skiing injury, where there’s an imbalance of the knees. So, what we could varus or valgus, if you’re not well balanced with your knees and taking a high impact, then the side of the tibia can often kind of shear off, and it’s kind of similarly difficult in repairing anything within the joint space when a fracture is involved.
Toree: Both of them sound terrible.
Stephen: They are cool to put back together, but I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy, I can tell you that.
Trauma Injuries vs. Total Joint and Sports Injuries
Toree: How do trauma injuries differ from a total joint or a sports medicine injury?
Stephen: The planning side of things, I think, is what jumps out to me the most initially. We work obviously with a ton of total joint surgeons. And there’s a whole program, months in advanced with that, as far as consulting with your physician. Planning for a rehab looks like kind of addressing your personal needs from a surgical approach. And obviously, with trauma, nobody is planning three months from now to get in a fender bender or get rear-ended. They kind of come up out of nowhere, and that’s a more random event or injury.
So, a few things are different as far as the rehab side goes. So, muscle atrophy is going to be variable for both of those. So, on the joint side, if a patient is putting off maybe getting a knee or a hip replacement, they might be limited in their day-to-day activity for quite some time, and see a reduction in their muscle mass, or what we call atrophy, where they’re getting a little bit weaker and weaker over a longer period of time. But for example, like an ACL injury, where a patient might immobile completely off that leg for two weeks postop, in those cases, there’s also a case for an asymmetry of muscle. So, it might not be as drastic of a muscle loss, but really what I’ve seen on the rehab side, especially for sports patients, you’re trying to reestablish a symmetry between the limbs, and it reduces the risk of a reinjury in those cases.
Toree: Okay. Now, you talked about like muscle atrophy, and you have a little bit of experience with that with an injury that you sustained before, right?
Stephen: Yeah, I can kind of speak to ACL side of things as very much a former athlete. But having gone through an ACL reconstruction five or six years ago now, I was kind of shocked having I had already been in the medical device field for a little bit at that point. But when I was going in to start my more aggressive outpatient rehab treatment, they do an independent leg assessment, and my surgical leg was actually 11 or 12 pounds lighter than my nonoperative leg, just in a few weeks’ time, which is not like I was working with a ton of muscle to begin with, but I was like, that seems pretty significant. That was really interesting to me, and actually kind of helped spur me into looking into rehab opportunities.
It depends on the injury. A lot of the trauma patients, for instance, are going to be non-weight-bearing for four to six weeks. So, I think that’s what I like about what we’re able to provide for the patients, is that no matter what the rehab is, we can try to get them going quickly, and reestablish the range of motion, and then get their strength going down the road when they’re ready for it as well.
Toree: Yeah, I mean absolutely, especially talking about just building muscles and kind of staying active. You’ve got a fully functional, hopefully, if you only injured one leg. You’ll have a fully functional leg that, often times, if you’re just doing CPM, which kind of was the standard a while ago, you’re stuck. You’re stuck, completely immobile for however many hours a day that you’re doing that to work on recovering your postsurgical leg, essentially. But your well leg just has to sit there, and so it’s nice to be able to have an option of being able to keep moving, at least with your well leg, while you’re also running therapy on your leg that’s recovering.
Stephen: Right. And I think what Dr. Kevin Caplan also talked on an earlier episode with you guys was deciding which grafts to use specifically for ACL patients, so that’s interesting too of where is that patient going to have to make up for a deficit, whether it’s a hamstring graft, or a quad graft. So, we are very much in tune with keeping eyes on that research, and developing what the most modern techniques.
Toree: Yeah, okay. So now, a sales manager, mister sales manager, and I’m sure you get this asked in all of your calls that you do, because I mean like we touched on before, a huge part of what Stephen does in the field is talk with and educate surgeons and staff members and physical therapists on the PortableConnect, and why it’s so useful to use post-injury or surgery. Now, mister sales manager, go ahead and put on that cap, and tell me, how does the PortableConnect compare to traditional therapy for a trauma patient specifically, since that’s kind of what your background is in.
Stephen: So, for a couple of the injuries I touched on earlier, so for tibial plateau or for those complex, intraarticular is a big word for fractures in the joint space. So, for pilon or tibial plateau patients, there’s a lot of relearning the movement, and building confidence within the patient, which is just as trivial. And I’m sure that the physical therapist can back me up on this. But that’s just as trivial in the rehab process as it is just to get them on weight training, or develop the muscle mass, because really, what we’re aiming to do also with the PortableConnect is get them comfortable with everyday motion: get them to stop thinking about, oh, I need to cater, I need to aid this lesser limb that I’ve had an operation on. So, I think the important thing is being able to help them reestablish symmetry, and the mental hurdles are just as big as the physical one. So, anything we can do to get them comfortable and moving again, and kind of get through that mental block is really important.
So, I have had a lot of fun talking to our prescribing physicians and physical therapists that work with the patients that we do service, and finding out how we can customize and cater the treatment plan to fit those patients on the different diagnosis.
Toree: Yeah. And now, you talk to physical therapist and surgeons and their staff members. And while you might not have that direct access to their patients, to kind of see how they’re doing or how they have recovered after using the PortableConnect, do you get feedback often from some of the docs that you’ve become friends with, or the staff that you’ve become friends with? Do you have any favorite kind of stories to share as far as that goes?
PortableConnect for Better Outcomes
Stephen: Yeah. I mean, I think the feedback that we get on the whole is, I think, the most common text or email I get is like, hey, so-and-so wrapped up at three or six-week treatment, doing really well, looks like they’re a rock star, like nailed their compliance. So, we’re really seeing great success with the patients that will commit to it, and do where we ask three to five sessions a day, which is pretty reasonable. It’s going to be a workout getting started, but those motivated patients are really the ones that are creating the best outcomes for themselves. So, anything our team is able to do to help them get on the horse, if you will, or the PortableConnect, our team is willing to do, and we’ve seen really great outcomes come from it.
Toree: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s pretty cool, because Stephen and I, for those of you who don’t know, we’re able to kind of hop on either in-person or Zoom, usually both of us are on in one way or another when we’re in these meetings with surgeon’s offices to kind of educated them. And one of the coolest things that I was able to see is a patient actually being the “guinea pig” on the PortableConnect when we hop in to kind of educate staff on how to prescribe, and they were seeing the device for the very first time. And so, this was an actual real-life patient who hopped on the device, and ran through a demo on it. And her response was just incredible. She was able to kind of work her way through, and you saying that it’s a workout to get started is the definitely the case, because she was huffing and puffing, but smiling. And as soon as she was done, she was like, this is the most that I’ve moved my knee since surgery. And I think she was like a week and a half or so postop.
I mean, it’s amazing to see the difference. And Stephen, you’re able to kind of see this from very start to very finish. Like the process from being in the OR with some of these patients, and knowing exactly what it is that they went through as far as their surgery, to then explaining it to the surgeons, to then these patients having these great outcomes, and then hearing it come full circle from the surgeons again. Is it really kind of fulfilling for you to be able to have this wide scope on like trauma injuries?
Stephen: Yeah. Like I mentioned earlier, it takes a lot of effort for some complex factures to let’s say like a midshaft femur fracture. There’s a lot on your thigh. You’re going to push a lot of stuff out of the way, and that can stretch out some muscles. There’s a lot of rehab that goes into it.
And to your point, some of the patients think it’s a workout getting started. Before robotic surgery, orthopedic surgery was a workout. And being able to see that in the operating room is cool. It’s just like a funny full circle. But it is really rewarding to see. I got to see very well-done surgeries every day. But to see the motivation of the patients to get back to what they were doing, I think that’s a lot of why surgeons do what they do. It’s to help people to get back to their everyday living, and pretend like they never needed a new knee or a new hip in the first place, or that that car accident never happened, or they weren’t playing basketball on a Friday night, and tearing their ACL, when they could have been elsewhere. It’s definitely rewarding, and couldn’t enjoy the role more.
Toree: Well, good. I’m glad to hear it, and thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us this evening, Stephen. It’s been a lot of fun, and very very informative.
If you guys ever want to reach out to Stephen, and ask about trauma stuff, you can go ahead and hit us up at ROMTech. You can comment on the stream. You can message us via – I believe that there’s like a comment section, a box with contact information. You can also just follow any of our social media channels, and we’ll move it on up the chain to get Stephen in touch with you.
So, thank you again. Yeah, thanks again for being with us, Stephen. Thanks to everyone who is watching here this evening. We appreciate all of the support. And we’ll see you guys next week when we do this again.
So, thanks so much. Be sure to check us out at Romtech.com, and we’ll see you all next time.
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