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Treating

TreatingThe Medical Director for the Cincinnati Reds, Tufts-trained Dr. Tim Kremchek balances the long-term health of his players with their desire to return to action quickly. Cincinnati.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.08.02] While he hopes to stay off the field whenever possible, Tim Kremchek is, perhaps, one of the most valuable players in the Cincinnati Reds' dugout. With a roster of multimillion dollar athletes under his care, the Tufts-trained Medical Director for the Reds is responsible for balancing the long-term health of his players with their desire to quickly return to action.

"A doctor has to walk a very fine line here," Kremchek, who completed his orthopedic residency at Tufts between 1998 and 1992, told The Boston Globe in an interview last year. "It's a business, no question about it, and I think a team should be able to dictate somewhat. But a player's health ultimately should be about the player."

It's a dilemma he'll face while treating superstar outfielder Ken Griffey Jr, who sustained a relatively serious knee injury during Sunday's game against the Expos.

"The injury occurred in the seventh inning of the Reds' 6-5, 10-inning victory against Montreal," reported USA Today. "Griffey, who had homered and doubled before the injury, slipped on the grass along the third-base line after he was caught in a rundown and tagged out by Expos third baseman Chris Truby."

One of the Reds' top players, Griffey will likely be under pressure to return to the field quickly.

And he could be back in just three to six weeks, Kremchek said, depending on how well a non-surgical treatment works.

"He will begin a rehab program and we'll monitor it for a couple of weeks," Kremchek told United Press International. "It is a serious injury. If you have to operate, he will miss the season. If you treat it and it responds, there is a chance that he will only miss a couple of weeks. I explained this to him and he wants to try treatment so he can come back and help the team."

According to Kremchek -- who has also worked with Olympic athletes and International Hockey League teams -- ever-increasing expectations of quick recoveries make his work much more complicated.

"An ACL tear used to involve a year and a half to two years of rehab; now it's six months," he told the Globe. "All these things we might not have been able to fix now we not only can fix, but we can bring them back to a higher level. But our advances are so great that our expectations have become too high -- the expectations of fans, of teams and of players."

While expectations may exceed the realities for big-league athletes, Kremchek says there are many opportunities to use available technology and treatment methods to significantly improve treatment for "everyday" patients.

In February, the Business Courier -- the major business publication in Cincinnati -- reported that Kremchek will open a new $12 million state-of-the-art sports medicine center in Ohio.

"The first phase of Kremchek's new center will be a 59,000-square-foot building consolidating three of [Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine's] eight local clinics and containing a 20,000-square-foot center for baseball training and performance enhancement," reported the Courier. "A 10,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center will also be incorporated, as well as exam rooms, an MRI imaging center, a therapy/rehabilitation center and an independent chiropractor."

The "one stop shop" will simplify treatment options, he said.

"The bottom line is we have to consolidate costs because of health care, but we're also trying to be a patient advocate," the Tufts-trained doctor told the business publication. "It's not uncommon to go see a doctor, who diagnoses you, then you go get an MRI somewhere else, or get physical therapy somewhere else and then maybe surgery somewhere else after that. We can treat any musculo-skeletal problem from head to toe, where patients can be evaluated, X-rayed, get an MRI or surgery all in the same place."

When the center opens, Kremchek hopes it will become a "world-renowned center for amateur and pro athletes, as well as the general public."

"We'd like to treat the rest of Cincinnati the way we treat the Cinacinnati Reds," he said.

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