High school injury leads to a personal understanding of the importance of physical wellness and recovery
Like many people in the high country, Dr. Greg Carlson says his dream was living in a smaller community where his own interests in outdoor recreation could mix with an opportunity to meet like-minded people.
A Minnesota native, Dr. Carlson is an orthopedic surgeon who offers Panorama Summit Orthopedics a highly trained range of sports medicine and orthopedic trauma services, with a specialization in complex sports knee injuries. For Carlson, his involvement in the orthopedics field is uniquely personal, as treatment for his own high-school era sports injuries sparked his interest in helping others.
“I played hockey and soccer and I had a knee injury that required knee surgery in the ninth grade, and while I was recovering, I got really interested in orthopedics and anatomy – I was fascinated how it all worked,” he says. “I thought anatomy was the coolest field. Everything’s kind of black and white, and if there’s a problem, we’re able to fix it and get people back to their goals and activities.”
After high school, Dr. Carlson finished an undergraduate degree at Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, working as an EMT and also studying abroad in Peru and Tanzania. He attended medical school at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery in Syracuse, New York, and then had an opportunity for further on-the-job training with a fellowship at Minneapolis’ Twin Cities Orthopedics – where he studied complex sports knee surgery with noted Steadman Clinic knee surgeon Dr. Robert LaPrade.
“I knew I really wanted to go into medicine to help serve others and be a part of the community,” Dr. Carlson says, of his extensive training. “While I like working with my hands, I really like the relationship side. I did a short stint in the ER while in school but I liked being able to do follow-ups with people in a clinical surgery setting. I get to ask people what they want to do, and then figure out a way to help them with that. My goal remains doing the very best to help restore people’s capabilities.”
Dr. Carlson’s studies included single and multiple ligament reconstruction and qualifications as a meniscal repair surgeon. He’s also trained in cartilage transplant and repair, as well as having expertise in osteotomy, which is critical in helping to solve bone alignment issues.
“I have extensive lower extremity training, which was part of how I got the job here – those injuries occur so much here,” he says. “I saw the job pop up and someone told me, ‘you will be super busy in the winter.’ Not that I want people to get hurt, but it’s pretty much my dream job.”
He, his wife and a 9-month-old daughter, moved to Summit County about a year ago and say they have loved the experience so far, with lots of cross-country and skate skiing during the winter, plus some resort skiing and snowboarding and one hut trip.
“This summer, we’ve been doing a lot of hiking and camping, which really goes back to my first experience in college when a roommate brought me out to Telluride. I have also been doing some road biking. It’s been a very fast year, so far, but I feel blessed and thankful to be here.”
Dr. Carlson’s own personal experiences with athletic injuries has given him an empathetic relationship with Summit County’s particularly active and outgoing population, and the wide range of sports-related injuries he sees on a daily basis.
He appreciates that many of his clients take a more proactive approach to their treatment than found in other communities, as people here want to be ready for the four-season activities they pursue, often on a competitive basis.
“We really work on communication and education with our patients – we are optimistic about what we can do, but they also appreciate our honesty about realistic timelines for recovery. To provide the best care possible, sometimes it’s not just going to take two months to recover, but it might be four to five. My goal is full activity, for everyone.”
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