ONS Physician Spotlight on Dr. Marc KowalskyFeatured Doctor
Get to know Marc Kowalsky, MD and what drives his personal approach in caring for his patients. He is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who has a subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Kowalsky sees patients at ONS in Greenwich, Harrison, and Stamford.
What is your philosophy to your practice?
As a sports medicine specialist, it is paramount when we first meet a patient to understand exactly what the patient’s goals and expectations are. Understanding what the individual patient’s work requirements are, and what activities they enjoy, is essential to this mission. I spend a significant amount of time talking with my patients before discussing his or her pain or injury. The treatment that I prescribe for a manual laborer, collision athlete, endurance athlete or someone who exercises casually will differ significantly. It is critical to appreciate these differences at the outset of a relationship between patient and physician.
I thoroughly enjoy the educational side of my job. An important part of my role as a physician is to help patients understand their own anatomy, the risk factors that may have contributed to their injury, and their treatment options. For the best outcome, the patient needs to be an active participant in their own health care.
Outside of your work, what are your personal interests?
I developed a passion for rugby during college. I shifted from football to rugby early while I was in school at Dartmouth. I had the opportunity to play on some great teams and we even won the Ivy League Championship. I am still very much involved in the game as a member of the Board of Directors of the Dartmouth College Rugby Club, and as team physician for the area rugby teams at Greenwich High School, Iona College, White Plains HS, the Northeast Academy, and the USA Rugby National Team.
I am also an endurance runner and have completed several half-marathons and three New York City marathons. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to exceed limits I previously thought existed, and to set new goals for in the future. This has given me a new-found appreciation for the strength, determination, and mindset of my patients who love endurance sports.
What made you chose to become an orthopedic surgeon?
As the son of a physician, I was able to witness first-hand the profound impact my father was able to have on the lives of his patients and their families. Academically, I found myself interested in science, anatomy, how the human body functions, and what can lead to dysfunction. As an athlete, I was naturally drawn to the study of injuries that can occur when the body is pushed to its limits, and what can be done to treat these injuries. I think most surgeons, and particularly orthopaedic surgeons, are drawn to the field due to a desire to have impact on the ability of a patient to remain independent and active.
What trends in your specialty area do you see emerging?
Trends in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine are both anatomical and biological. The surgical procedures that we perform keep evolving to reproduce as best as possible the normal anatomy of the injured structure. A better understanding of normal anatomy, how the anatomical structures function, and what techniques and devices can be used to recreate this normal anatomy are all helping us accomplish this goal. In addition, we continue to examine the role of “biologics” in our work, including platelet-rich plasma, stem cells, and other therapies that perhaps can assist in healing injured tissue. Although our current understanding of these therapies, and evidence supporting their use, continue to evolve, further research is bound to provide clarity on how these substances can be used to help patients, and what yet to be discovered therapies may have a role.
How do you stay current in your field?
I am fortunate to practice in a group that prioritizes ‘best practices’ and evidence-based medicine. We regularly participate in conferences within our group during which we critically examine new research that might impact our practice and discuss the management of complex cases we encounter. We have a unique opportunity in our anatomy and bioskills laboratory to explore novel surgical techniques. I am also a member of ACESS (American Clinical Elbow & Shoulder Surgeons), a select group of shoulder and elbow surgeons from around the country that regularly hosts discussion of complex cases and current controversies in the management of complicated shoulder and elbow conditions. I was admitted as a member of the American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons, which provides another opportunity to incorporate the most recent evidence and standards of care in my practice.