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On the Field

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ELIZABETHTOWN Having been a student athlete who was injured while playing and underwent reconstructive surgery and extensive rehabilitation, Michael Krueger, MD, CSCS, has a unique perspective into the process of orthopedic surgery and rehab. “I was a two-sport athlete in college, football and track. I dislocated my shoulder 16 times. I know what athletes go through when they are injured,” says Krueger, sole practitioner at Hardin Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

“Being a former athlete gives me an equality and commonality with my patients,” says Krueger, regardless of whether the injury comes under the lights on Friday night or playing around the house or suffered on the job. “I have been through as much rehab as many of my patients. I know the process and the protocols first hand,” he says.

Krueger launched his solo practice in July 2011 after completing his sports medicine fellowship training at Sports Orthopedics & Spine in Jackson, Tennessee, following his residency in orthopedics at the University of Kentucky. Krueger credits his fellowship training and the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification he earned in residency for preparing him for the dual role of orthopedic surgeon and rehabilitation head coach.

“I view my practice as a team concept. It’s me, the surgeon, with the referring physicians, the hospital OR and office staffs, the physical therapists, athletic trainers, and most importantly, the patient,” says Krueger.

Arthroscopic surgery is the majority of Krueger’s practice, encompassing 60 to 70% of surgery volume. He comments on the advancements in arthroscopic surgical techniques such as all-arthroscopic double-row rotator cuff repair, hip arthroscopy, and anatomic ACL reconstruction. “We are doing more advanced techniques today that we didn’t 20 years ago. That is a great plus for our patients.”

Pediatrics and Physical Therapy

Pediatric sport injuries for young athletes under 16 years old are a growing segment of the patient population at Hardin Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, which Krueger attributes to younger athletes training harder and pursuing one sport year round. Fractures and ligament tears require different techniques for pediatric patients, such as less use of x-ray and CT scanning as well as special instruments and implants in surgery to avoid growth plates. A physical exam, limited x-ray with or without an MRI is Krueger’s preferred diagnostic approach for pediatric patients.

Krueger has developed strength and conditioning protocols that he incorporates into his therapy regimens for rotator cuff and labral repair, ACL injury, and collateral ligament reconstructive elbow surgery – the “Tommy John” surgery. He borrows heavily from his mentors Dr. Darren Johnson at UK and Dr. Ben Kibler, Lexington Clinic, for their work on ACL reconstruction and stabilizing the scapula, respectively.

Krueger communicates with his physical therapists regularly to keep apprised of his patient’s progress, and he clearly gives credit to physical therapists who “can make me look like a superstar, spending three to five hours a week for months with patients after my two or three hour surgery.” Krueger’s commitment to the benefits of physical therapy is evident when he recalls a former instructor who said, “It’s a scalpel, not a magic wand.”

Krueger is a fixture on the sidelines of many Hardin County athletic teams as an attending physician and un-abashed booster. “I still get a thrill being on the sidelines during a game,” he says. “I’d love to be back playing college ball again.”

Being a former athlete gives me an equality and commonality with my patients. I have been through as much rehab as many of my patients. I know the process and the protocols first hand.– Dr. Michael Krueger

For patient referral, contact Hardin Orthopedics & Sports Medicine (270)735-1588 2407 Ring Rd, Suite 108, Elizabethtown, KY 42701