University Hospitals Offering Stronger Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Services

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Drs. Michael Schaefer and Antimo Gazzillo join the team

Innovations in Orthopaedics | Winter 2020

University Hospitals Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Services sees patients from multiple departments. Many of these patients have pain, numbness or functional issues that stem from spinal conditions, work or athletic injuries, or a chronic condition like arthritis.

Because many physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) patients have musculoskeletal concerns, the division recently moved under the University Hospitals Department of Orthopaedics umbrella. With this change came new leadership and additional skilled physicians.

Drs. Michael Schaefer and Antimo Gazzillo of UH PMRPictured above Dr. Antimo Paul Gazzillo (L) and Dr. Michael Schaefer.

A WELL-ROUNDED LEADER

New Division Chief of UH Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services, Michael Schaefer, MD; and Associate Professor of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, joins University Hospitals after nine years at Cleveland Clinic, where he served as Director of Musculoskeletal Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. At UH, he will provide patient care as well as oversee the inpatient PM&R service and acute rehab hospitals throughout the UH system.

“Dr. Schaefer has been in practice for more than 15 years and is a leader in the field,” says James E. Voos, MD, Chair of UH Department of Orthopaedics; and Associate Professor of Orthopaedics, School of Medicine. “His diverse background will allow him to manage all sides of PM&R.”

“For many of our complex spine patients, acute rehabilitation postoperatively provides the best way to improve strength and function, as well as improve their ability to return home and to normal activities as quickly as possible,” says Zachary Gordon, MD, Director of University Hospitals Spine Institute and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics, School of Medicine. “Having one individual who straddles the line from outpatient to inpatient care will allow us to be more effective and efficient in improving outcomes and quality of life of our patients after spine surgery.”

LEADING IN NONSURGICAL SPINE TREATMENT

Antimo Paul Gazzillo, MD, completed his spine medicine fellowship at Cleveland Clinic — after a PM&R residency at Indiana University Hospital and an internal medicine internship closer to home at Akron General Hospital. As a physician with extensive experience treating chronic and acute back pain, Dr. Gazzillo has deep expertise in fluoroscopic- and ultrasound-guided injections.

“Dr. Gazzillo represents the first physician in recent memory at University Hospitals who is dedicating the vast majority of his practice to the nonsurgical treatment of spinal disorders,” Dr. Gordon says. “Dr. Gazzillo's compassionate care and expertise have already been well-received by our patients. This is reflected in how busy he has become in a very short period of time.”

“His presence has expanded our access to these nonsurgical procedures and rounded out our complete musculoskeletal care,” Dr. Voos adds.

EXPANDING PHYSICAL MEDICINE & REHABILITATION

Drs. Schaefer and Gazzillo will both play key roles in developing the PM&R department. “It’s all about getting the right patient to the right provider,” Dr. Schaefer says. “With spine conditions, for example, the vast majority don’t need surgery. The key is to identify early on who needs surgical intervention and who can start a conservative care plan that combines physical therapy, alternative medicine and medical management. For the in-between patients, we can refer them to someone like [Dr. Gazzillo] or myself for interventional procedures.”

That type of customized care is one reason PM&R complements orthopaedics. “We help maximize care,” Dr. Gazzillo says. “If needed, we can refer patients to our surgical colleagues within the Orthopaedics Department, facilitating a collaborative patient experience.”

While both Drs. Gazzillo and Schaefer focus primarily on clinical care, they do devote some attention to research. Dr. Schaefer is involved in a clinical registry for an implantable nerve stimulator to treat shoulder and nerve pain. Dr. Gazzillo has looked at surgical infection rates in patients with prior lumbar injections.

In addition, both chose UH because of its strengths in sports health and orthopaedics, as well as its drive to strengthen its presence in the community and ultimately lead healthcare in Northeast Ohio.

“We have a young, dynamic orthopaedic team,” Dr. Gazzillo says. “We’re also seeing tremendous expansion in trauma care, which dovetails with PM&R, both in and out of musculoskeletal care.”

The two physicians also call out UH’s growth on Cleveland’s East and West sides. Anna Serels, MD, a physiatrist who specializes in PM&R, treats patients from University Hospitals Concord Health Center in Painesville, Ohio. Although she treats a wide range of patients, she has a strong interest in neurorehabilitation. She offers Botox® treatment for patients with spasticity-related conditions, dystonia and/or migraine headaches.

Sami Moufawad, MD, focuses on pain management with a focus on helping patients identify ways to treat and manage pain without prescription or over-the-counter medications.

“As surgeons, we have typically had to explain to patients that they should try a full complement of nonsurgical treatment including exercise, physical therapy, medications and possibly interventions, which are all provided by Dr. Gazzillo,” Dr. Gordon says. “This approach allows our patients to be seen by the ‘right physician’ the first time.”

To refer a patient to Dr. Michael Schaefer or Dr. Antimo Paul Gazzillo at University Hospitals Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Services, call 216-553-1783.

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