Thomas Maino, MD
Family Medicine, Sports Medicine
Robert Michael, MD
Family Medicine, Sports Medicine
One on One with Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Maino
Q: How did you decide you wanted to become a sports medicine doctor?
A: My background is in primary care, but I started out in the military as a primary care doctor which in a lot of ways is similar to sports medicine in that most of the problems were with athletic people. I treated a lot of chronic overuse injuries, concussions and trauma. Although it’s much different in the military because I needed to be so much more than a team doctor, I learned how to embrace the team concept and found that I really enjoyed it. So when I finished serving in the Navy, I completed a fellowship in sports medicine at the University of Maryland. Now I get to work with the different schools in Colorado as their team physician which I really enjoy.
Q: What types of patients do you see?
A: I don’t have a typical patient. We care for pediatric, high school, college, and professional sports athletes as well as weekend warriors and recreational athletes. I provide nonoperative sports medicine to all of my patients. About 90 percent of sports injuries do not require an operation.
We may see a sports cardiology patient for treadmill testing. For example, we’ve had weekend warriors come to us to find out whether indigestion or a cardiac problem is making them feel like their heart is going to explode when they run. We see patients with breathing issues or vocal cord disruptions that are triggered by exercise. We’ve helped athletes with migraines unmasked by concussions. We also see athletes with skin conditions caused by their sport. For instance, we’ve helped wrestlers who have contracted herpes, impetigo and ringworm from rubbing up against their opponents or the mats. We have a broad base of experience in sports medicine.
Q: What injuries do you see the most?
A: We see a lot of concussions and overuse injuries – shoulders, knees, ankles and a fair number of hand injuries. We also see a lot of arthritis and tendonitis.
Q: What do you find rewarding about your work?
A: Getting to know people and helping them through an illness or injury until they get better.
Q: You’ve been a physician for more than 20 years, during that time how would say sports medicine has changed?
A: We really understand concussions and we are managing them better. At Centura Health Sports Medicine in Lakewood, we’ve developed extensive expertise with concussion management including concussion diagnosis, making sure there isn’t a more traumatic injury, and how to play safely after a concussion.
Our practice also performs musculoskeletal ultrasounds where we use an ultrasound to guide our injections and get the medicines we need to inject in exactly the right place. This has improved the accuracy and effectiveness of the injections.
Q: How does your experience as an athlete shape you as a doctor?
A:I have an interest in rock climbing and mountain biking. We take care of all sports, but when a patient tells me the last time they did the Leadville 100 they thought they were going to throw up the whole time . . . I can say, “Well yeah, me too.”
There are a fair number of climbers here in Colorado – and there all these different disciplines in climbing. There’s traditional climbing, sport climbing, ice climbing, bouldering and free climbing. As a climber myself, I’m familiar with the motions of rock climbing, the emotions and the injuries – shoulders, hands and fingers.
One on One with Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Michael
Q: How did you choose sports medicine as your specialty?
A: I actually began my residency in anesthesia and when I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, I switched to primary care. As soon as I made the switch, I knew I wanted to practice sports medicine. As an athlete myself, I had dealt with a lot of injuries and sport-related conditions, so it felt like a natural fit. As both a primary care doctor and a sports medicine specialist, I’m committed to preventing disease. When you see an athlete, they tend to be more healthy and active in their chosen sport, I not only treat them but I also work to keep them healthy which to me is an added bonus that I enjoy.
Q: You could practice anywhere in the United States, why Colorado?
A: I’m from Chicago. That’s where I completed my residency with the University of Chicago and then my fellowship through the Resurrection Medical Center Sports Medicine program. Personally, I was a snowboarder, and I always wanted to move to a mountain state. Professionally, Colorado is such an active community. A lot of people move here because they are active so it made sense on both levels. From a sports medicine perspective, Colorado really has it all. There are a lot of weekend people who like to go for hikes and bike rides, and then there’s also a lot of endurance athletes out here, cycling is of course really big in this state, and of course a large part of the population likes to go skiing or snowboarding here in the winter.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of practice that is dedicated to sports medicine?
A: At Centura Health Sports Medicine – Lakewood, we have more capabilities here to do different testing and things of that nature. We have physical therapists right here in the office; we can just go talk to them if we need to or have them come talk to a patient if needed. So it really provides all of the services an athlete could need under one roof. At my other office, I could make referrals and order tests, but in Lakewood, I have everything I need to address their issues at my disposal. It’s also great that the entire staff from the doctors to the medical assistants have a singular focus on athletes and sports injuries.
Q: What do you love about your job?
A: I just like working with athletes, they are motivated patients - they want to get back to their activity. For the most part, they are really willing to work with you. With a primary care patient with high blood pressure, you may say tell them to lose weight and they might say, “Yeah, that’s great.” With an athlete they want to get back to their sport – so if you tell them – you need to do this, this and this – they are right on board because their main goal is to get back to what they want to do. They are a very good population to work with.
Q: Does your experience as an athlete help you relate to your patients?
A: I grew up playing soccer. I played for 35 years until an ACL tear in my knee forced me to retire. With athletes you have to understand what their motivation is and their motivation is to get back to playing. Sometimes, it’s hard when you tell an athlete that they can’t play because that’s all they want to do. Having played in organized sports for years, most of the situations I can relate to because I’ve been there, I’ve either had to slow down or I’ve had a similar injury, I think patients relate to you when you can share that you’ve had a similar experience.
Q: What is the difference between an orthopedic sports medicine provider and a primary care sports medicine specialist?
A: I don’t know if the general public knows the difference between a sports medicine physician and an orthopedic surgeon, so when they think of an orthopedic or a musculoskeletal injury – their first thought is to see an orthopedic surgeon. They may not be as aware of sports medicine in general. They may not think they need surgery but that’s who they think deals with all those sorts of injuries. However, the overwhelming number of sport-related conditions and injuries don’t require surgery. In addition to musculoskeletal conditions, we are experts in concussion management, exercise-induced asthma, sport-related cardiac conditions and more. As opposed to a surgeon who deals primarily with the orthopedic conditions – we can also address non-orthopedic conditions.
Q: As a sports medicine physician, is there a moment that stands out in your career?
A: I was covering a mass race, sort of like a marathon but shorter in Chicago and we had several medical tents on the course. I was serving as the head person in one of the tents, along with some medical students who were assisting me. A couple hours into the race, we had a person a block from our tent collapse and it turns out they were in cardiac arrest. We had to use the defibrillator on him and perform CPR in the middle of the street, but we got him back. If we hadn’t been there, there’s a good chance he may have actually died.