Helping the body to heal itself
Special to The Union
For Dr. Tracy Hoeg, being in motion is a way of life. She has always been a runner – even competing for the U.S. and Denmark (she is a dual citizen) at the IAU Trail World Championships and the WMRA Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. Even pregnancy could not sideline her.
“During my second pregnancy, I ran six marathons,” Dr. Hoeg says with a laugh. “I really believe in the value of physical activity and I think there are important benefits to be had even during pregnancy.”
Dr. Hoeg feels so strongly about supporting the human body to be active and do what it was designed to do that she made a significant career shift a few years ago, allowing her to better support others in their physical pursuits.
“I had been working in Ophthalmology for several years in Denmark,” she recalls. “Then I started doing research at U.C. Davis, studying why ultramarathoners were losing their vision.”
That research helped to lead Dr. Hoeg to do residency at UC Davis in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, a medical specialty, described by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as medicine that aims “to enhance and restore functional ability and quality of life to those with physical impairments or disabilities affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons… Unlike other medical specialties that focus on a medical ‘cure,’ the goals of [physical medicine] are to maximize patients’ independence in activities of daily living and improve quality of life.”
For Dr. Hoeg, the study of physical medicine resonated with her passion for activity and holistic healing. “Our goal is really to get our patients functional and pain-free,” she explains. “Our focus is to avoid surgery when possible and reduce the use of NSAIDs [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen] and narcotics and other pain medications. Instead we work with the body to help accelerate what it is meant to do.”
Dr. Hoeg was able to put the theory of physical medicine to the test herself earlier this year when she was faced with a nagging Achilles tendon injury that was affecting her usual running regimen.
“I had a partial tear of my Achilles,” Dr. Hoeg explains. “I did some research and chose to do PRP [platelet-rich plasma therapy], which is essentially using a potent solution of your body’s own healing molecules – the platelets- to treat your injury. That treatment, combined with six weeks of rehabilitation, healed the tear. I avoided an invasive procedure and I was able to return to my sport within just a couple months.”
Dr. Hoeg describes her injury, treatment and recovery as a full circle moment… She was able to experience first-hand the benefits of the type of care she provides to her patients.
“I like to see people doing what they love to do,” she says. “I can relate to people who want to be active and be outdoors. When I see an injury, I see an opportunity – an opportunity to restore what has been lost and to help that person return to what they enjoy.”
Dr. Hoeg uses the principles of physical medicine to treat not only sports-related injuries, but also back pain, spinal cord injuries and amputations.
After spending the last years as a an Interventional Sports and Spine Medicine fellow at the Bodor Clinic in Napa, as well as a researcher at the Napa Medical Research Foundation and a voluntary assistant professor at UC Davis, Dr. Hoeg is excited to be joining Mountain View Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine in Grass Valley.
“I was drawn to Mountain View because they offer regenerative treatments (using a patient’s blood or bone marrow) for sports and spine injuries and use high-resolution ultrasound scans for both diagnosis and treatment. This type of advanced medical care is hard to find in our region,” explains Dr. Hoeg. “It is exciting for me as a physician. And this area offers so much to my family as well. We love nature, trail running, hiking, cycling, skiing – and Grass Valley is a great base from which to do those things. Plus, this is a great community!”
Dr. Hoeg and her husband Rasmus, a hematologist working at UC Davis, have two sons. They’re looking forward to raising them in a community that values the same things they do – health, wellness, and nature.
“We are not really city people,” Dr. Hoeg says with a laugh. “We look forward to a quieter life here.”
A quiet life that will surely include lots of time spent doing the activities she loves – and helping others to do the same.
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