Top Docs: Profiles

Meet 11 of our 2007 Top Doctors.

October 2007

Dr. Patrick McNair

Orthopedic Surgery
Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center, Littleton, St. Anthony Central, Lutheran—Practicing for five years

Colorado Statistic One of the most common injuries in skiing is the ACL tear. Some experts say that incidence of this injury has tripled over the last 20 years.

"The problem with the ACL tear is multi-factorial. No. 1, as the population grows, more people are doing more of these adventurous things. They're pushing limits, watching ESPN, and pretty much trying to be the next great thing. No. 2, a lot of that population is going the wrong direction in terms of being in shape. Better equipment lets you get to the next level, but it doesn't necessarily mean the body corresponds with it. Physical fitness is more important than age, but it's not so much being physically fit as it is having neuromuscular control over your body to not put yourself in a bad landing position. Most ACL injuries are noncontact injuries; it's not when you hit a tree or when someone runs you over. It's more a low-velocity injury, about planting and pivoting."

Scary Thought "For every mogul skier that comes in with an injury from the bumps at Mary Jane, there's a tow-line skier who came to a stop on a green slope and just caught an edge and twisted the knee. It doesn't have to be a high-energy activity to tear your ACL. And while most ACL injuries are relatively run-of-the-mill, if you happen to get a multi-ligament, or popliteal artery injury, now we go from doing an ACL surgery to what would surely be described as limb-salvage, to save the leg."

Who Knew? "ACL injuries are much more common with skiing than with snowboarding."

Best Health Advice "As long as we educate people on how to position their legs when they land, we can limit the number of injuries. It's all about body parts in space and anticipation. Be realistic about the activity you choose, and be in shape for that specific activity. Neuromuscular control [being conscious of your body-part placement and muscle coordination] has to be part of staying in shape."