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Focus on Mark Halstead, MD

Dr. Mark Halstead and son before their first Cardinal baseball game together.
Mark Halstead, MD is an assistant professor in the Division of Orthopedic Surgery in Non-operative Sports Medicine. Dr. Halstead sees patients at two convenient locations:
•St. Louis Children's Hospital, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, One Children's Place 

•Washington University Orthopedics, 14532 S. Outer 40 Drive, Chesterfield, MO

TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT AT EITHER LOCATION, PLEASE PHONE (314) 514-3500.

What is Non-operative Sports Medicine?

Physicians who have who have trained in a primary care specialty (such as pediatrics, internal medicine or family practice) and then complete additional training in sports medicine are known as primary care, or non-operative, sports medicine providers. It is estimated that ninety percent of sports injuries won’t ever need surgery. In my role, I help the surgeons by improving access to our clinics. I also look at how I can get a patient better with physical therapy; getting them better by modifying their activity and getting them back to the sport they want to do. If surgery is necessary, and sometimes it is, I have a great group of surgical partners to which I can refer.

In addition, I bring a different perspective of medicine because I practiced general pediatrics before I came here. I have an interest in general medical problems related to sports, particularly sport-related concussions. These medical problems typically do not fall into the realm of what an orthopedic surgeon would necessarily treat. My extra training can be applied to their medical problems in addition to their sports injuries.


What happened to you in the course of your studies that made you decide to choose Sports Medicine?

When I entered medical school my plan was to go into general pediatrics. While in medical school in Wisconsin, I met Dr. Greg Landry who practices pediatrics and sports medicine. He is one of the team physicians for the Wisconsin football team. I was interested in sports and thought it was a good combination. I shadowed him during that time and then in my residency, I mentored with Dr. David Bernhardt who was involved in pediatrics and sports medicine and I  continued my training from there.

What brought you to Washington University?

Washington University was a great opportunity for me and offers a great orthopedic group to be with. St. Louis is closer to my wife's family, which is also a positive.

While the department did have physiatrists functioning in a non-operative role, there was no physician addressing the nonoperative needs of the sports medicine service. So, joining Washington University really allowed me to help out the surgeons quite a bit, as well as improve access to our services for patients and referring physicians. Overall, joining the practice has allowed me to help expand the sports medicine program.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Chicago but I spent 20 years in Wisconsin. I lived in the Milwaukee and Madison areas. We spent a few years in Nashville, Tennessee and now we are here in St. Louis. We have been here since 2004.

What aspect of your practice is the most interesting?

Dealing with athletes and people who have a vested interest in getting back to being active, keeps the job interesting for me. I love everything about sports, so it is a natural fit. For me, it is a joy seeing young kids getting better, in addition to adults who want to stay active and working back to doing what they want to do.

I also really enjoy the unique challenges of the athlete with a concussion. The last 10 years has seen such a tremendous explosion in our knowledge base regarding concussions in sports and I find it a fascinating injury and one that we only can continue to learn more about.

Which particular award or achievement are you most proud?

Having done this for a short period of time, I don’t think there has been any award or achievement that has been most gratifying. I think when all is said and done with my life, if I was told I was a good father and husband that will be most gratifying to me.

On a professional level, if patients that I have seen start to see back their family members and friends, to me that means that I have been a good physician and someone they can trust. This lets me know that I’m am doing a good job.

What do you do when you are not working?

I like to spend time with my two boys and my wife. Outside of that I like to run. Some where down the line, my wife and I would like to train for a marathon together since we have each completed one individually.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Listen to your patients. History taking and physical exam skills are becoming a lost art. However, being good at both things helps make you a better physician. Also, taking some time to get to know my patients personally -- it’s always nice to get a little bit of information that is of interest to them besides just their medical concerns.

What lifestyle change could most benefit our health?

As a sports medicine doctor, the most practical advice would be to exercise more. If you take it slow, get into a regular exercise program, even if it’s for a short period of time, a couple of times each week, it can make a big difference in your health.

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Copyright 2014 Washington University School of Medicine
Copyright 2014 Washington University School of Medicine