group getting their fantasy football draftFor anyone who is an avid sports fan, this is a great time of year. The baseball pennant races are full-bore, the college football season has kicked off and the 94th season of the National Football League (NFL) begins on Thursday night, September 5, 2013. Six months later, on February 2, 2014, the NFL season will end with the crowning of a champion team of Super Bowl XLVIII.

Between now and February, a curious addiction will befall many otherwise sane men and women who enjoy following professional football. They will be consumed with the stats of players who most likely don’t even play for their favorite teams. They will spend many hours studying obscure facts such as how well a given running back performs on artificial turf versus real grass. They will struggle to juggle all-star lineups to best take advantage of a scoring system that approaches the complexity of the U.S. Tax Code.

Unlike the treatment delivered by the specialists at Texas Back Institute to patients with back pain, herniated discs or other back problems, there is really no cure for this football sickness. These lost souls are smitten by the phenomenon of playing fantasy football!

Consuming Football Facts

It may not surprise you to learn fantasy football is a very big business. It is estimated by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association that 32 million people, aged twelve and older in the U.S. and Canada, play fantasy sports. The trade group notes that fantasy football players make up 90% of the fantasy sports “industry.” This participation has grown by over 60% the last four years with 19% of males in the U.S. playing fantasy sports.

Because of this high level of participation many consumer products companies such as Sprint, Yahoo, ESPN, Fox and others have invested millions of dollars in fantasy football services and promotions. The two groups who usually disagree about almost everything associated with professional football – NFL properties (composed of the team owners) and NFL Players (the players’ union) – have both created products and services that encourage fans to play fantasy football.

The Texas Back Institute Dream Team 

Most of the fun of playing fantasy football involves choosing a “dream team” from a group of outstanding players. There are no bad football players in the NFL. They’re all good. Therefore, getting to choose the best of the best for one’s own team can be great fun.

In a similar fashion, the spine specialists at Texas Back Institute are the best in their class and as such, there are only great choices. In celebration of the hundreds of thousands of fantasy drafts in full-swing at this moment, we thought we’d introduce you to our dream team.

History of the Team:

Texas Back Institute was formed in 1977 by Stephen Hochschuler, M.D., Ralph Rashbaum, M.D. and Richard Guyer, M.D. The organization is internationally recognized for excellence for spine injuries. In football terms, this team plays offense and defense equally well and the patients are the big winners.

The Texas Back Institute Fantasy Team:

As with NFL teams, the Texas Back Institute team is composed of the best of the best of spine surgery, research and therapy. The game plan for our team has been consistent for more than 35 years. Each patient injury or condition is unique and is best treated with the most minimally invasive approach.

Here’s a brief “draft” report on each of the Texas Back Institute physicians.

arakal0Rajesh G. Arakal, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Arakal and other TBI surgeons to your team if you need thorough evaluation and treatment of cervical, thoracic and lumbar pathology.

Belanger_MD_small

Theodore Belanger, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Belanger and other TBI back experts to your team if you want a spine specialist who evaluates each patient and their situation carefully and makes treatment recommendations based on their goals.

Block_PhD_Small

Andrew R. Block, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.

Specialties: Psychologist

Add Dr. Block to your team if you need to overcome emotional difficulties of surgery, deal with stress and control medications to achieve the best surgical outcomes.

blumenthal

Scott L. Blumenthal, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Blumenthal and other TBI back specialists to your team if you believe the goal of a spine surgeon is to get his patients back to life using the most advanced motion-preserving technologies, including lumbar and cervical artificial discs as well as posterior dynamic stabilization.

bosita

Rey Bosita, M.D., M.B.A.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Bosita and other TBI physicians to your team if you want to be treated with respect and have your fears about neck and back pain removed.

bradley

W. Daniel Bradley, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Dr. Bradley along with every other TBI specialist should be on your team if you feel treatment should use the latest in motion preservation and minimally invasive surgical techniques.

cable

James D. Cable, M.D.

Specialties: Occupational & Sports Medicine

Add Dr. Cable to your team for occupational and sports medicine issues. He knows wear and tear eventually affect all of us but most back pain is manageable with proper care.

duff_small

Michael F. Duffy, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Duffy to your team if you agree that we should get busy living! His goal and that of the other spine specialists at TBI is to deliver effective spinal care to patients in order for them to return to doing what it is that makes them happy.

gibbs

Sharon J. Gibbs, M.D.

Specialties: Physiatrist

Add Dr. Gibbs to your team if being in pain affects many aspects of your life. As a physiatrist she works hard to provide patients with the best comprehensive non-surgical care.

guyer

Richard D. Guyer, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

As one of the founding physicians of Texas Back Institute, Dr. Guyer is both a player and a coach for new team members. Add him to your team if you agree with his “family test” philosophy – treating patients the way he would want his family members to be treated.

Henry_MD_web_1

Shawn M. Henry, D.O.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Dr. Henry and the other spine specialists at TBI should be on your team if you want to be treated with the most advanced technology and treatment available for your condition; holding surgery as a last resort.

hisey

Michael S. Hisey, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Hisey to your team if you feel the goal of neck and back treatment is to return patients to productive and pain-free activity using the most advanced minimally invasive and motion-preserving techniques.

hochschuler

Stephen H. Hochschuler, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Hochschuler and the other spine surgeons at Texas Back Institute to your team if you have lumbar spinal problems or have had a failed spinal procedure.

Jehan_85x85_1

Effat Jehan, M.D.

Specialties: Spine Triage Specialist

Add Dr. Jehan and the other specialists at TBI to your team if you feel the goal should be to help treat not only back and neck issues but also to provide effective coordinated support to help patients get through every day of life without any stresses related to their condition.

lankford

Craig Lankford, M.D.

Specialties: Physiatrist

If you want to be treated with respect, compassion, add Dr. Lankford and every other physician at TBI to your team. He can help you understand how pain affects your everyday life in order to help you get back to life.

lieberman

Isador Lieberman, M.D., M.B.A., FRCSC

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Lieberman and the other spine surgery experts at TBI to you team if you want to be treated as if you were the only patient we have.

marchetti

Jason Marchetti, M.D.

Specialties: Physiatrist

If you believe in ethical treatment and the importance of educating patients regarding all available treatment options, you should consider adding Dr. Marchetti and the other spine specialists at TBI to your team.

patel

Nayan R. Patel, M.D.

Specialties: Physiatrists

Add Dr. Patel to you team if you think patients should be treated in the same way a physician treats his own family.

rashbaum

Ralph F. Rashbaum, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, Pain Management

Add Dr. Rashbaum and the other spine surgery specialists at TBI to your team if you want a timely response to back conditions which leads to predictable outcomes.

shellock

Jessica Shellock, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Add Dr. Shellock to you team if you think it’s time to take your life back, with minimally invasive treatment. Along with the other experts on the TBI team, she is highly trained in the latest procedures.

Tolhurst_MD_web

Stephen R. Tolhurst, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

If you want a doctor who sees surgery as a last resort and is dedicated to returning you to the lifestyle you had before the back pain, you want Dr. Tolhurst on your team.

zigler

Jack E. Zigler, M.D.

Specialties: Orthopedic Spine Surgeons

Add Dr. Zigler and the other spine surgeons at TBI to your team if think surgery should be the last resort. However, if it’s required, he’s one of the best spine surgeons in the U.S.

Choosing Your Team

There are literally hundreds of ways to set up your league and arrange for a draft of NFL players. The best advice for those new to this pastime is to understand how the players’ performance will be scored each week. This will help determine the number of running backs, wide receivers, tight ends to choose. For example, in some leagues, the yardage gained by running backs is weighted higher than the passing yardage of quarterbacks.

One should also be aware of the “bye” weeks each team has (when they are not playing) because this will mean a player on the team with the bye, will not play that week and should not be in the lineup.  Here’s a good primer  on choosing your fantasy team.

Fortunately, choosing a spine specialist is much easier than choosing a fantasy football team! With more than 35 years of excellence in spine treatments, management of many FDA trials and a foundation of minimally invasive treatment, the dream team of physicians at Texas Back Institute is championship caliber.

iron-man-3-730x400The movie smash hit of the summer is Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and its popularity can be explained on several different levels. The “superhero” in this blockbuster flick is both physically and emotionally scarred, so in many ways, he’s just like you and me. Plus, the action and special effects are non-stop. This science fiction, where the lead character’s  human body part is replaced by an artificial part, is science fact at Texas Back Institute.  How so? Read on.

Artificial disc replacement, pioneered by several spine surgeons at Texas Back Institute, including Dr. Scott L. Blumenthal, is in many ways more futuristic than the suit of iron that brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark wears to heroic advantage in Iron Man 3. Before delving into the reasons for Stark’s angst and ultimate redemption, we asked Dr. Blumenthal to gives us some insights into the ways he and his colleagues are transforming patients in pain to Iron Men and Women.

Artificial Disc Replacement – Medical Fact not FantasyScott L. Blumenthal, M.D

In post-movie interviews fans of Iron Man 3 have said that one of their favorite aspects of the story is the blurring of science fiction and medical fact. Since you have taken a part of the body – the disc that cushions the spinal vertebra – and replaced it with one that is artificial and more durable, what are your thoughts about this advancement?

When I started in medical practice, we talked about the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man. For anyone younger than 30, this was a fictional story about a man who had been critically injured and had many of his organs, muscles and limbs replaced by much stronger artificial ones. At this point in medicine, this replacement of real with artificial body parts is becoming reality, not fantasy. For generations, spine surgeons have been fusing vertebra when the discs wear out or are damaged.  Our patients were constantly asking “Why can’t you just  replace it?” Well, after much development and testing, now we can. In patients who have back pain resulting from damaged disc we can replace it with one that is man-made.  My colleagues and I formed the Center for Disc Replacement and now the fantasy is going to be main stream medicine.

What enabled Texas Back Institute to be at the forefront of this procedure?

Our advantage came from our opportunity to do the FDA testing of this procedure here at our clinic. This procedure had been very popular in Europe for many years (before being considered in the U.S.) and many people with the resources to travel there, were getting the benefit of this technology by going over there. Because we were asked to assist in this testing, we were the first practice to be able develop protocols for the procedure. Our experience here far outweighed other physicians in this country. We started lumbar disc replacement and went on to cervical disc replacement. We discovered extensive evidence that strongly suggested artificial disc replacement speeded recovery, so our patients returned to work sooner. We found this procedure had better outcomes than fusion and the overall costs were less.

What brought about the development of the artificial disc?

It’s a combination of factors. There is substantial patient demand and the technology in the composition of the artificial discs is excellent and continues to get better than it was 12 years ago when we started. Plus, there is a measurable economic benefit to disc replacement as opposed to other procedures.

Do you mean there are economic benefits to patients in the form of cost vs. outcome?

Exactly. This is why the major insurance companies – not known for their investing in medical technology simply because it seems to be good technology – have decided to cover this procedure. They clearly have good data that proves the costs for artificial disc replacement are reasonable when outcomes, long-term recovery and the incidence of future problems are considered.

What other medical advancements – which may seem like science fiction now – do you see becoming medical fact in the immediate future?

I see stem cell therapy becoming an important new frontier for back surgery and specifically disc damage. Patients are looking for different, non-invasive ways to alleviate back pain and these stem cells – some harvested from the patients suffering from the pain – have the potential to change the way we treat damaged tissue.

Watch Dr. Blumenthal comment on technology and spinal care.


What Makes Iron Man 3 So Interesting?

As the advertising blurbs about Iron Man 3 note, “the movie pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark (also known as) Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at more »every turn, will test his mettle.” Whew! All that in about 2 hours!

As fans of the three movies know, the first of the Iron Man films revealed Stark as a clever, resourceful scientist-adventurer-tycoon who launched his super-character and super-suit while trying to escape from a platoon of Middle Eastern terrorists. This film was followed by a sequel called, Avengers , which did not receive the same level of enthusiastic critical review or box office support. However, the third installment – Iron Man 3 – has critics and, more importantly, paying customers, raving.

Part of the reason this current Iron Man saga has been so successful has to do with the evolution of the lead character played brilliantly by Robert Downey Jr. This star has had his own, well-chronicled personal challenges and the Tony Stark character he plays in the movie is experiencing many of these same – all too human – difficulties.

Iron Man 3 is replete with action, special effects and the superhero formula that seems to cure all boredom. However, the lead character spends less time in his iron suit, fighting bad guys and more time contemplating his place in the universe. One reviewer was on the mark when he noted Stark discovers the answer to the question that has been haunting him: Does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

Watch the Iron Man 3 trailer here.

Since Dr. Blumenthal and his colleagues at Texas Back Institute  are turning what was medical science fiction a few years ago into medical fact today, we had to ask him if he had a favorite superhero when he was growing up? His answer should give hope to those who don’t particularly care for Iron Man, but do long to go where no man has gone before!

Blumenthal notes, “Actually, I was not a big fan of superheroes. I’m more of a Trekkie. Fortunately, the new Star Trek – Into the Darkness opens tomorrow and I will be there!”

On a plain in Africa while on a photo safari, Lisa Oatman’s right foot went numb. Once again, she was experiencing the painful side effects of spinal stenosis, this time far away from her home near Waco, Texas.

 “I was surprised to have back pain at my age, 50. I always had a back issue but three years ago, it really became a problem with my left leg,” Lisa said. “I compensated by the way I stood and would lean on things. I couldn’t walk long distances, and I was fidgety because I couldn’t sit still for a long time.”

After putting up with the pain for several months, she went back to her family doctor who referred her to the Texas Back Institute. Rather than having a laminectomy (which is one of the more common surgical procedures for stenosis) Dr. Scott Blumenthal informed Lisa she was qualified to participate in an investigational study of the Superion Inspinous Spacer, a minimally invasive procedure.

Despite concerns over her responsibility to throw a party for 400 students at her son’s school in a mere four weeks, she readily accepted. Dr. Scott Blumenthal performed the minimally invasive procedure in April 2010 and within hours, Lisa was walking and the pain was gone. In just over 24 hours, she was discharged with instructions to avoid certain activities for two weeks.

Three months after surgery, Lisa was once again far way from home, this time on a trail deep in the Andes. Although not able to carry a pack, she hiked for 10 days to see the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu then went on to snorkel off the shores of the Galápagos Islands. Lisa was far from home and even further away from pain.

Do you have spinal stenosis? Let us know.  We’d be happy to help you put your pain in the past.  

For more information on this trial please call 972-608-5006.

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