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  • Writer's pictureThe Rivers School

Abi Walsh: Newton Wellesley Orthopedics

This summer, I had the opportunity to spend time at Newton Wellesley Orthopedics. I had an amazing experience and I want to thank Dr. Snyder, and the staff at NWOA, as well as Mr. Schlenker for making this opportunity possible.

Newton Wellesley Orthopedic Associates is a practice that includes about ten doctors that provide evaluations and treatment options for patients with bone, joint, muscle, nerve, or tendon pain and problems.

I spent much of my time with Dr. Snyder. Dr. Snyder specializes in hips and knees; however, he sees a variety of patients of all ages with varying issues from feet to shoulders, and much more. I got to see a broad range of problems.

One morning, Dr. Snyder had multiple female patients with knee issues. All three of these women had Patellofemoral Syndrome, which is common in female athletes and occurs when the knee cap, or patella, does not sit in the correct groove as you bend your knee. This was particularly interesting because I was able to see both a young patient who was just starting to experience pain and an older patient who had gotten surgery to correctly align the kneecap. The younger patient had Patella Alta which meant that her patella was higher up on the femur instead of in the trochlear groove. Dr. Snyder recommended physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee to hopefully avoid surgery in the future.

Many patients with knee problems have built up fluid surrounding their knee. One man had a bakers cyst on the backside of his knee. A cyst can occur for many reasons including arthritis or injury to the cartilage. Synovial fluid had built up in his knee as a result. To treat this, Dr. Snyder drained the cyst and took out the synovial fluid. He then injected the patient with cortisone. Cortisone is a steroid that can decrease inflammation and pain in the joint as well as pain.

Another woman had adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder. She came in with stiffness and pain in her shoulder and she was unable to lift her arm above her head. Interestingly, Dr. Snyder explained that doctors are not exactly sure what the cause of adhesive capsulitis is; however, it often occurs in women with an imbalance in hormones, a weakened immune system, or have diabetic issues. The tissue holding and surrounding her shoulder joint became thick and tight. Bands of scar tissue formed and there was less liquid to keep the joint lubricated. Dr. Snyder recommended acupuncture and physical therapy to loosen, stretch out, and strengthen those muscles. Frozen shoulder can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to three years, and the patient just needs to wait for it to get better on its own.

Being able to shadow Dr. Snyder and see patients was very rewarding; however, my time in the afternoon with the medical assistants was just as interesting. I spent much of my time with the Northeastern Co-op Medical Assistants. I helped room patients, scan medical records into the Epic system, and draw up cortisone injections. When making cortisone injections, we would mix 2 ml of lidocaine and 2 ml of cortisone into a syringe and make a tray for the doctor which typically included an alcohol swab stick, a bandaid, a gauze pad, and the injection.

Additionally, dealing with and learning about medical records was particularly intriguing. Epic is the healthcare software system that is used by Newton-Wellesley Hospital and many surrounding hospitals. I learned how to scan intake and release forms, find patient images and information, and I learned how doctors use Dragon, a voice recording tool that helps doctors write a report about the patient visit.

Throughout my time at Newton Wellesley Orthopedic Associates, I gained an immense amount of knowledge and appreciation for the medical field. The staff here were beyond welcoming, and I could not have asked for a better experience. I hope to continue to learn and grow as a student and person, in order to gain more knowledge and see where my path in the medical field might take me in college and beyond.

Thanks for reading!



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