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A team effort

The Times of Trenton—September 22, 2008

The trio could not have imagined then how their dream would turn out -- with them as teammates today, but in an entirely different arena. And with a pro sports twist, too.

"We're on the same team now -- the same medical team, that is," says Dr. Greg Lutz.

Whether through fate, coincidence or sheer luck -- there was that chance meeting in a supermarket -- the three childhood friends ended up as physicians practicing the same specialty in the same medical group in Princeton.

"We really are a team," says Dr. Paul Cooke.

That team -- practicing at Hospital for Special Surgery in Princeton -- also has a pro sports connection.

"Our hospital takes care of the New York Giants, the New York Mets, the New York Knicks and the (New Jersey) Nets," says Lutz, chief of physiatry at HSS, who was in fellowship in sports medicine with Dr. Russell Warren, team physician for the Giants.

"He asked me to stay on at HSS and start a department in physiatry," says Lutz. "Then, as it turns out, Dr. Christopher Lutz and Paul do a fellowship and it's with me."

Physiatry, also called physical medicine and rehabilitation, was exactly what Lutz was looking for. It specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and management of disease primarily using "physical" means such as physical therapy and medications. The practice deals with a variety of musculoskeletal problems, including back injuries. It's estimated there are about 6,000 practicing physiatrists today in the United States.

At HSS, some 13 physiatrists in the 10-year-old department see about 40,000 patients annually.

Lutz said his interest in the musculoskeletal system turned from orthopedics to physiatry. "I realized not everyone needs surgery," he says. "People can get better without it and sometimes it's a better way to treat people. That's the way I would want to be treated. That's why I went into it."

He also chose the specialty because it was an emerging field.

"It was an opportunity in a field in which not much was known."

He said the practice at HSS has successfully treated back pain using "minimally invasive" procedures.

Story originally published at nj.com.


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