Orthopedic and Spine Industry Leader to Know: Dr. Edward Benzel of the Cleveland Clinic

Written by Rachel Fields | July 30, 2010 | Print  |
As chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Spine Institute and vice president of the department of neurosurgery, Edward Benzel, MD, seems happy to share his wisdom on back problems. In an interview with WebMD on the prevalence of back pain, he said patients should consult a staggered line of defense when confronted with back problems: first, the primary care physician, then an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon.
Back pain must be keeping those providers busy: According to Dr. Benzel, the affliction is the second more common cause of lost work days in the United States after the common cold. "This is because, in part, of the labor and activities most people perform," Dr. Benzel said. "For example, a dog walks on all four extremities and disperses the load on the spine. But when we lift heavy objects, we put all the stress on the back. This is common when individuals are deconditioned, meaning they don't have strong back and aren't used to heavy lifting, so when they do, they strain uncommonly used muscles, beginning an episode of back pain."

An experienced neurosurgeon who understands the hard work involved in providing quality healthcare, Dr. Benzel demonstrated concern over the decision by many hospitals to cut back duty hours for hospital residents. While he understands that residents' desires and expectations have changed since the time he attended medical school, he worries that residents who desire a nine-to-five work schedule are not cut out to provide the best care for their patients.

"The reality is that the work still needs to be done," he said in a February interview with Marquette Medical Alumni Association. "On the positive side, the residents have been forced to become more efficient. On the negative side, some things don't get done … Strict adherence to duty hour schedules, when the practice of medicine does not usually follow a schedule, is a fault of the new system."

Dr. Benzel holds joint appointments in the departments of neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and serves as program director for the Neurosurgery Residency Training Program. In 2001 and 2002, he received the Teacher of the Year award. He has also been honored with an award for Faculty Excellence in Post-Graduate Clinical Training.

Dr. Benzel earned his MD from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he received the Millman Award, given to the student who best exemplifies the characteristics of an ideal physician. He went on to complete an internship and residency in neurosurgery and a fellowship in spine surgery and spinal cord injury at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Read more on notable orthopedic and spine leaders:

-Orthopedic and Spine Industry Leader to Know: Karen Hackett of AAOS
-Orthopedic and Spine Industry Leader to Know: Dr. Steven Ballinger of Samaritan Mid-Valley Orthopedics

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