For James R. Parkinson, MD, a lifelong interest in sports and sports medicine not only influenced his decision to specialize in orthopedic surgery, but also his philosophy of care.
“I’ve always been athletic, and I love sports,” he said. “Surgery is similar. You put on your uniform and play your best game. What appealed to me most - and still does – is that in Orthopaedics, you have short intense encounters with people, often as the result of a trauma they’ve sustained. It’s very intense while you are dealing with the injury, but the patients generally get better.”
Born and raised in Amherst, Dr. Parkinson earned his undergraduate degree from Amherst College and went to medical school at the University of Rochester. He completed his residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, followed by a fellowship in Orthopaedic Rehabilitation at the University of Southampton General Hospital in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Parkinson began practice after his medical training at the former Orthopaedic Associates of Williamstown, working there for 25 years before accepting a position as an Orthopaedic Surgeon at Albany Medical Center, teaching Orthopaedic residents at Albany Medical College. While at the Medical College he was appointed Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Albany. During those years, Dr. Parkinson also served as the Medical Director of Sports Medicine and Team Physician at Williams College.
“One of the hardest decisions that a team doctor faces is whether a player can safely return to the field after an injury,” Dr. Parkinson said. “Because I played contact sports, I had a good understanding of when something was serious and when it wasn’t. My philosophy has always been to try to get players back in the game – but always with a mind toward safety. You can’t do that with a cookie-cutter approach to care. It’s important to give every injury a great deal of consideration.”
The same philosophy guiding Dr. Parkinson’s tenure as a team physician continues to inform his care for all patients. Thus, lifestyles and level of activity are all part of the equation when treating an Orthopaedic injury or condition. “I always talk with my patients about how to balance risk and benefit,” he said. “We discuss what they can do, and what is safe to do with the expectation that they will get back to near normal following expedient care.”
Now semi-retired, Dr. Parkinson joined Berkshire Orthopaedic Associates in 2018 and is practicing at BOA’s office at the North Adams Campus of BMC. Using his long experience in Orthopaedics and sports medicine, he is now treating patients with non-surgical techniques, though refers them to his colleagues if surgery is the best option.
“I’m focusing on acute orthopedic problems, treating patients with such injuries as non-displaced fractures, sprains and strains,” he said. “My philosophy still hasn’t changed much from the sports arena. I’m helping people to get back to the playing field of life as quickly and safely as possible.”