Make no bones about it. The Driscoll Children’s Hospital orthopedic surgeons are the ones to go to in the Valley when your child needs personalized care.
Driscoll Children’s Hospital orthopedic surgeons offer the entire scope of pediatric orthopedic surgical care in the Rio Grande Valley, including scoliosis, pediatric sports injuries, club feet and other foot deformities, fractures, congenital deformities, bone lesions and infections, hip dislocations, pediatric hand and upper extremity deformity, lower extremity deformity, limb length discrepancy and neuromuscular disorders, including cerebral palsy, spinal bifida and muscular dystrophies.
Based in Corpus Christi, Driscoll Children’s Hospital offers orthopedic services in McAllen, Brownsville and Laredo. The clinic in McAllen is located at Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center, 1120 East Ridge Road; the clinic in Brownsville is at Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center, 5500 North Expressway 77; the clinic in Laredo is at Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center, 7210 McPherson, Suite 104.
Driscoll Children’s Hospital has three orthopedic surgeons on staff: Roger Timperlake, MD, Christopher Comstock, MD, and Kathryn Wiesman, MD. Drs. Comstock and Wiesman travel to the Valley to the various clinics to see patients, while all three perform orthopedic surgery in Corpus Christi.
Although Driscoll Children’s Hospital orthopedic surgeons travel to the Valley to see patients, Roger Timperlake, MD (from left), Kathryn Wiesman, MD, and Christopher Comstock, MD, perform all pediatric orthopedic surgeries at the hospital in Corpus Christi.
Drs. Timperlake and Comstock are the veterans; Dr. Timperlake joined the staff in 1993, while Dr. Comstock has been at Driscoll Children’s Hospital since 1996. Dr. Wiesman joined the Driscoll team in 2016. For years, Dr. Timperlake flew down to the Valley for appointments.
“With the addition of Dr. Wiesman to our program, the future has never looked brighter,” said Dr. Comstock. “Dr. Wiesman is extremely well-trained and is a fantastic addition to our group. She will increase our exposure to the Valley clinics significantly, making it even easier for patients to be seen close to home.”
“Drs. Timperlake and Comstock are the senior members of the Driscoll Orthopedic Department and they have provided a solid foundation for the department with their excellent achievements and good-natured attitudes. I’m proud to join their team and enjoy their mentorship and advice,” said Dr. Wiesman, who is pleased to be back home.
“I’m very proud to serve the Rio Grande Valley. I grew up in Kingsville and my father’s family is from Rio Hondo. I think coming home after 14 years of training has well prepared me for taking care of the children of South Texas and becoming a part of the mission Clara Driscoll started,” said Dr. Wiesman.
Physicians aren’t the only ones making up the Orthopedics Department. Having the right staff is critical, and the orthopedic surgeons are thankful for their team members.
“So much goes on behind the scenes to ensure that we can maximize our time in the Valley and ensure the fewest trips to Corpus Christi to ease the burden of travel on our patients,” said Dr. Wiesman.
An orthopedic technician accompanies the physicians to the Valley for casting and to help with durable medical equipment (DME), such as crutches and wheelchairs, while nursing and medical staff members in Corpus Christi help manage the preparation of studies for patients’ upcoming appointments, coordinate physical therapy and DMEs, and arrange the scheduling of surgeries and post-operative appointments.
“We have a phenomenal, accessible nursing staff, many of whom have served the department for over 15 years, who can answer and guide the parents through all the iterations of diagnoses that we treat,” said Dr. Wiesman.
Kathryn Wiesman, MD, and Christopher Comstock, MD, have all the supplies necessary to take care of your child’s orthopedic needs.
All consultations, pre-operative visits and post- operative visits are done in the Valley clinics. While clinic appointments are held in the Rio Grande Valley, all surgeries are performed at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi. Both Dr. Comstock and Dr. Wiesman see this as beneficial for their young patients.
“Routine clinic visits can all be managed near the patient’s home in one of the Valley clinics, while surgeries done at Driscoll Children’s Hospital afford patients 100 percent pediatric subspecialty care, if needed. Many patients have multiple subspecialists involved in their care and this all can be taken care of under one roof,” said Dr. Comstock.
“A child’s biology/physiology is very different from an adult’s. Pediatricians often say ‘children are not small adults’ and they are absolutely correct. We offer our expertise in pediatric orthopedics and the assurance that our Anesthesiology Department is highly trained. Many children often have multiple congenital anomalies or other health challenges. At Driscoll we also have a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) that can meet all of the needs of these patients in the post-operative time. The safest place for a child to have surgery is a pediatric hospital with pediatric anesthesiologists and intensive care pediatricians,” said Dr. Wiesman.
A variety of services are performed by Driscoll’s pediatric orthopedic surgeons.
“I think the least understood aspect of pediatric orthopedic surgery is the wide spectrum and complexity of conditions that we treat. I can see up to 80-90 patients in one day in the clinic and most days not one patient will be seen for the same thing. Essentially everything in the musculoskeletal system from the neck to the toes is seen by a pediatric orthopedic surgeon,” said Dr. Comstock.
“I am constantly amazed at the resiliency and healing potential of children even after very large complex surgical operations,” he said. “Some children I never thought would be able to walk at their very first office visit have progressed to independent ambulation.”
Dr. Wiesman agreed.
“Because of the remodeling capacity of children’s growing bones, some diagnoses can be treated with bracing, casting, physical therapy or simply observation. We only perform surgery on children that have a diagnosis that requires it or those that fail exhaustive measures at nonoperative treatment,” she explained.
“Medical technology is constantly changing in pediatric orthopedic surgery. As the technology improves the surgeries become shorter and safer with smaller incisions and better results. I have worked closely with surgical engineers over the last 20 years to help devise ways of treating surgical spine patients more safely and improving scoliosis correction,” said Dr. Comstock.
However, both physicians agreed that technology is not the only answer.
“No technology can replace bedside manner and being a compassionate physician. At times technology may give us too much information and we have to decipher what is relevant. For example, what we see on advanced imaging may not be pertinent at all to a child’s primary complaint. Technology is no replacement for putting together a complete clinical picture. You cannot program a machine to diagnose a patient; the algorithm is simply too complex. In addition, patients want someone to care about them,” said Dr. Wiesman.
“There is definitely a delicate balance of combining the latest technological advances with good old-fashioned bedside manner. Many patients come to us with the expectation of receiving the most current and advanced surgery possible and when indicated we can definitely offer that level of care. However, many times surgery is not the answer and it is my responsibility to educate the families about other options available. I have found over the years that families appreciate a very candid discussion about possible treatment options and just want to do what’s the very best for their child,” said Dr. Comstock.
Such education is key to the patient/physician relationship.
“All decisions made regarding the child are made based on thorough discussions with the family and what is the best possible management for that particular patient. The entire pediatric orthopedic team tries to go the extra mile in helping families receive the best care possible,” said Dr. Comstock.
“During our clinic visits I always try to leave the room asking if the parents have any questions after teaching them about the diagnosis and treatment. In addition, we have many handouts and great Internet resources for the parents to reference after a clinic visit,” said Dr. Wiesman.
Sports-related injuries are a common ailment the orthopedic surgeons deal with.
“Pediatric sport injuries have skyrocketed over the last several years, especially with our female athletes. The female soccer player has now become the number one most likely person to have an ACL tear. The presence of growth plates around children’s joints can make these injuries very challenging to deal with,” said Dr. Comstock.
“In addition to operative sports and nonoperative overuse injuries, one important thing to consider in relation to sports is head injuries. I believe it is important to continue to increase awareness on the long-term consequences that football, boxing and mixed martial arts may have, given their high rates of head impact. Concussions should be evaluated by a trained specialist. At Driscoll we offer a sports medicine program that caters to young athletes. In addition to common sports, other sports such as gymnastics, cheerleading, dance and ballet have very specialized types of injuries that as trained sports specialists we can recognize and treat,” said Dr. Wiesman.
“Pediatric sports injuries are unique to their age groups and are commonly treated completely differently than with adults. Our goal is to provide appropriate age-specific management of the patient’s injury and to get them back to their sport in a safe and timely fashion,” explained Dr. Comstock.
In the end, everything is about that young patient being treated.
“Children have the innate ability to adapt to whatever condition they were born with or acquired during their lifetime. For the most part children just want to play and have fun and they won’t let anything get in their way. I have been very blessed to have families trust me in the care of what they treasure most in life. Children constantly make me laugh and are a constant reminder to what is truly important in all of our lives,” said Dr. Comstock.