Strictly speaking, “orthopedics” is the branch of medicine concerned with fixing problems with the skeleton (read: bones) and associated structures (tendons and ligaments, for example). With today’s ever-expanding knowledge about how the human body works, however, the term “orthopedics” defies such a narrow definition, especially when considering the comprehensive care offered by McLean County Orthopedics (MCO). MCO offers much more than X-rays and casts for broken bones. This team of physicians, therapists, and specialists works together to help each patient reach or recover their fullest health potential by focusing on the entire musculoskeletal system and overall patient wellness.
McLean County Orthopedics boasts a team of more than 150 doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical and occupational therapists, nurses, and staff who have one goal in mind: To help each patient feel better. The focus on compassionate care is intentional, according to Jim Schaefer, CEO. “People aren’t coming to us because they feel great—they are usually in pain, have suffered an injury, or may have impaired mobility. Our team members are empathetic, caring, and compassionate—they have a heart for service—because, patients don’t care what you know, until they know that you care!”
What helps immensely in achieving the goal is the comprehensive nature of the care offered on-site. From the very first call, a patient makes (usually because they are in pain, either acute or chronic) to “finish”—recovery and best outcome—everything needed to provide an accurate diagnosis, a treatment plan, whether that includes non-invasive treatment or surgical intervention, through physical rehabilitation and follow-up is available under one roof. This streamlines care from the patients’ perspective, as they only have to go one place for an X-ray, a doctor’s appointment, or physical therapy—or whatever their injury requires to achieve the best outcome.
The variety of injuries that the team at McLean County Orthopedics treats may be surprising. It’s much more than broken bones. “We treat injuries and problems associated with the entire musculoskeletal system,” explains Dr. Paul Naour, a specialist in interventional pain management. That includes the spine, hand and wrist, ankle and foot, shoulder, hip, elbow, knee, as well as sports injuries. They treat chronic (persisting over a long period of time) conditions and acute (recent) injuries. And while a cast might be the answer for some injuries, MCO also has a variety of non-surgical and surgical treatments depending on the need.
Once a problem is diagnosed, treatment may include rehabilitation in the form of physical or occupational therapy. This will enable the patient to recover strength and range of motion to help ensure the best outcome—being as pain free as possible and able to do as much as possible post-injury.
The comprehensive nature of the practice benefits the patients even more because the care providers work as a team. “We have regular team meetings to discuss patient treatment and progress,” says Dr. Naour. These meetings involve the physicians, physician assistants, nurses, physical therapists, and a psychologist who bring different perspectives about each facet of a patient’s needs to light. The psychologist is integrated into the team to help with understanding patient response, reluctance, or reticence and can meet with patients directly if desired to help them work through their worries and fears regarding treatment options and processes.
Being in the same location enables the team to communicate effectively and efficiently on a daily basis as well. They can talk face-to-face rather than try to call and hope the person they need to talk with is able to answer. The practice also has an in-house secure texting system that allows for immediate interaction and consultation, and underscores MCO’s multidisciplinary approach to care. “The enhanced communication allows for better diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately results for patients—it enables optimal coordination of care,” adds Schaefer.
Also fitting nicely under the “comprehensive” umbrella is the diagnostic capabilities available on-site at MCO. As you would expect with an orthopedic practice, they can obtain X-ray images of bones quickly. But X-ray doesn’t work for diagnosing some injuries, so they also have ultrasound—which works well for seeing soft-tissue injuries in tendons, ligaments, and muscle.
When more advanced imaging is needed, MCO’s state-of-the-art open MRI is also available. The benefits of the open MRI include the fact that it’s less claustrophobic than a closed-bore MRI, which is huge for some patients. Even though a scan is non-invasive, staying still inside a closed machine can be difficult and stressful. An open MRI is also easier for larger patients who may not fit or be comfortable in a closed machine; and it’s easier for parents to be with children who are frightened or simply don’t want to be alone. The images are very high quality for diagnosing problems in the musculoskeletal and vascular systems or extremities.
Two other special diagnostic technologies include the DEXA (Bone Densitometry) machine, which evaluates bone health and diagnoses osteoporosis. DEXA is safe, fast, and non-invasive and is used in MCO’s Body Composition Analysis program (see more about this program below). Dr. Naour uses fluoroscopy during some treatments for pain management. “Fluoroscopy provides real-time images—like a live X-ray—to help guide injections for accuracy and placement in joints,” he explains. For soft tissue injections, ultrasound serves the same purpose.
The array of diagnostic technology enables the physicians to diagnose problems on-site and define a therapy program that can be implemented as soon as possible.
Body Composition Analysis
“Comprehensive” not only describes MCO’s ability to diagnose and treat orthopedic issues, but also reflects their goal of helping patients achieve overall wellness. The Body Composition Program helps patients achieve their health, fitness, and weight loss goals by completing a body composition analysis using the DEXA technology and metabolic testing. The data obtained from these tests is then used to create a personalized exercise “prescription” designed to maximize fat loss and muscle gain.
As mentioned above, a DEXA scan provides information about bone density and health. The metabolic testing, Cellular Respiration and Analytics (CRA), is an incremental exercise test that determines a person’s prime, anaerobic, and peak heart rate zones. Both are safe, quick, and minimally invasive.
Once the metabolic markers are defined and the body composition analysis is completed, the team at MCO evaluates what the person needs and wants as far as their fitness goals to tailor a prescriptive program for losing weight, toning, or improving their overall fitness. The activity is monitored by a physical therapist to ensure the client stays in their optimal zone for best results. “The best part of this program is that it is prescriptive, meaning you can do these exercises and activities at any gym or at home,” explains Dr. Naour. “We aren’t selling a gym membership—these things don’t have to be done at MCO. But we will help lay the roadmap for better wellness.”
If, however, a client needs or wants more support or more professional help, the Body Composition Program offers additional features that include access to a registered dietician who will help with nutrition information and strategies, the services of a psychologist help with motivation and positive anticipation for change, or a fitness membership to the adjacent Carle (formerly Advocate BroMenn) Health and Fitness Center.
Another reason MCO has focused on overall wellness is simply because a healthier patient will typically have a better outcome. “If a patient wants or needs to lose weight to have a better outcome from surgery, we want to support that as much as possible,” says Dr. Naour. “Some surgeries can’t be done if a patient’s BMI (Body Mass Index) is too high—there are higher risks of complications and recovery is more difficult.”
Having a patient work with the wellness program on the front end—losing weight, working with the physical therapists to get stronger, generally getting as healthy as possible before surgery—can result in a more optimal outcome. While that’s not always possible based on the patient’s pain level or ability to make these changes prior to surgery, it can certainly be beneficial.
Walk-in Ortho Care Clinic
The team at MCO understands how accidents happen in life. A misstep, a fall, a collision at home plate—just about every normal activity in life can go haywire once in a while and result in pain caused by a strain, sprain, broken bone, or other orthopedic injury or problem. When these acute injuries happen, MCO offers an urgent care walk-in service at their facility that does not require an appointment or a doctor’s referral. “The Walk-in Ortho Care Clinic allows patients to get an immediate orthopedic diagnosis and treatment without having to wait at an Emergency Department,” says Jim Schaefer. The Walk-in Ortho Care Clinic is open 8am–5pm Monday—Thursday and 8am–noon on Friday.
And while appointments are not necessary for receiving care at the walk-in clinic, Schaefer recommends calling ahead. “In this current COVID environment, if you think you should come to the walk-in clinic, call ahead for a same-day appointment. This will allow you to be seen at a specific time by the most appropriate provider available who can best assess the nature of your injury. It’s a more direct and convenient process that we feel will help enhance each patient’s experience.”
McLean County Orthopedics has evolved over the years to serve patients for a continuum of health needs. “As a result of our growth and expansion of services, we want to make sure that when people think of MCO, they realize that we treat patients well beyond McLean County and offer much more than basic orthopedic care,” says Jim Schaefer. Dr. Naour agrees, adding, “We are a one-stop shop for so much more than broken bones—we treat anything to do with the musculoskeletal system. But we still treat broken bones, so bring us those too!”
McLean County Orthopedics is located at 1111 Trinity Lane, Suite 111, in Bloomington. Call (309) 663-6461 or click McLeanCountyOrthopedics.com for more information.