Each month, find out what motivates ORA Orthopedics’ physicians to practice and treat patients in the Quad Cities in our What Moves Me feature.
As we near the Quad City Mallards season opener, meet team physician and hockey fan, Dr. Mark Stewart, who specializes in orthopedic surgery.
Meet ORA Orthopedics Surgeon: Dr. Mark Stewart
Hometown: Caledonia, NY
Years in practice: 13
Specialty: General orthopedics at ORA Orthopedics with special interest in fracture care and hip, knee and shoulder surgery.
Team Physician: Quad City Mallards; Quad City Blues High School Hockey Team; Geneseo High School Teams
The QC Mallards open their season on Friday, October 24. Tell us about your role on the team, and are the Mallards strong and ready to skate?
My role is varied this time of year. I’m clearing our players to start training camp. I diagnose and recommend treatment plans for injured players. Our team athletic trainer, Jon Piche, and I work closely both on and off ice caring for the players. On game day I may see opposing players who are on a road trip and need care. There is a colleague agreement that we treat their players and they treat ours on the road, as none of the team doctors in the league travel with team. During the game I’m in the stands watching and being ready for any incidences.
The Mallards are ready to skate and are the fastest and strongest players we’ve had since the AHL team was here. This is great hockey geared towards younger faster players who will move up to the next level.
Hockey is known for being a rough sport. What unique injuries have you seen?
Hockey is tough but it’s also one of the most grueling sports. Hockey players are conditioned better than just about any other athletes.
Over the years I’ve worked with players from high school to AAA hockey and have seen some interesting as well as gruesome injuries. I’ve seen guys get hit in the mouth while fighting, get a couple of teeth knocked out (chicklets, as the players call them). The player holds them on his tongue and shows the referee after the fight so the other player will get a longer penalty. Tell me that’s not tough.
One game a referee was accidentally run into by a player and the official dislocated his shoulder. He calmly skated off the ice came to the training room, I put it back in place and out he went to finish the game.
When you are not at hockey games, how do you spend your weekends?
I have a few hobbies. My middle son plays high school hockey and we travel as far as Omaha and Kansas City some weekends.
I enjoy scuba diving as a dive master. Last year my brother and I dove with sharks in Honduras.
Hunting and shooting are favorites with me and my three sons. Whether it’s pheasant hunting, target practice or busting some clay pigeons, we enjoy spending time outdoors.
Finally my road bicycle keeps me active. I rode RAGBRAI this last year with my sixteen year old son. It was great camping and spending a lot of father/son time while seeing the sights of Iowa.
What do you like best about practicing in such a beautiful and small community as Geneseo, IL?
I usually spend 4 days a week practicing in Geneseo. The community and surrounding towns remind me of the town I grew up in. We had 60 kids in my class in school and that small town love is still in me.
I like the closeness of the community. When we are caring for patients they are our friends, family and neighbors. It seems that gets lost in some bigger areas.
What made you decide to become an orthopedic surgeon?
I’ve always been good with fixing and making things. In high school I took some wood and metal classes and liked them.
While I was in the navy I became a corpsman and was assigned to the orthopedic clinic. I liked treating athletes, and as an athlete myself, I felt I could relate.
Combine all those experiences and that’s the definition of an orthopedic surgeon.
What do you like best about practicing medicine?
It sounds corny but I really do like helping people get well, and have them return to their desired level of activity. Seeing that athlete return to play and succeeding is gratifying. Having that patient who couldn’t move very far because of a bad hip or knee start walking after their joint replacement is an amazing feeling. When I take a kid out of their cast so they can move again, it really moves me.
What inspires you most about your patients?
I sometimes can’t believe the amount of resiliency some patients have. Trauma victims whose worlds are shattered with their bones come in with hope and dedication to get back to living. I will see someone who has a badly broken arm or leg and they are smiling and asking when can they start doing things. They make me think maybe my day isn’t so bad!
If there was one piece of advice you wish your patients would take to heart, what would it be?
I once asked a 90-year-old patient who had some shoulder pain after painting his house what his secret was for living so long. His response was simple. He told me to “drive out into the country, you don’t see the horses and cows retire.”
The point was to stay active both physically and mentally. I agree, because those who do so tend to be my healthiest patients.