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NUMC’s spine, back, and neck care services take a big step forward

Dr. Ben Mueller, orthopaedic spine surgeon with Twin Cities Spine, discusses a back injury with a patient. Dr. Mueller will start seeing patients at NUMC next month.

Throughout its history, New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) has built a reputation for innovating and integrating medical care, all for the benefit of patients. The newest example is the comprehensive spine, back, and neck care services at NUMC: combining a full-time Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) doctor with Physical Therapists of the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm, the diagnostic capabilities of the NUMC Radiology Department and Neurology, and a partnership with Twin Cities Spine Center, an orthopaedic spine specialty practice with an international reputation for excellence in the treatment of spinal conditions.

NUMC Welcomes Dr. John Jakovich, DO, PT

John Jakovich, DO, PT begins seeing patients full time at NUMC this summer. From a young age Dr. Jakovich had an interest in the rehabilitation field. As a teenager, he worked with a retired physician who was recovering from spine surgery.

“He hired me to do work around his house as he was incapacitated. He had a hard time walking, and even getting out of a chair. I assisted him with mobility until he was able to do more on his own. I even helped him with his exercises,” Dr. Jakovich said. “He encouraged me to go into medicine.”

With an interest in rehabilitation, Dr. Jakovich first became a Physical Therapist (PT).

Dr. John Jakovich will begin seeing patients at NUMC this summer.

“I enjoyed working in many different environments as a therapist and had experience in acute rehab, orthopedics, spine, and long-term care,” he said. He became interested in becoming a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) specialist to increase his ability to care for his patients. “It was a natural progression from being a PT to a PM&R physician.” 

Dr. Jakovich earned his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Bradenton, Fla. Most recently, he has seen patients and acted as the PM&R Physician Lead at Mayo Clinic System in Mankato. He is board certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“If a person has a physical decline from an injury or disease process, a Physical Medicine Physician strives to promote functional improvement,” he said.

The kinds of diagnoses Dr. Jakovich primarily treats include patients who require rehabilitation associated with strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, spasticity, orthopedics, back, neck and spine issues and other various physical conditions that limit mobility and function.

“My practice includes spinal procedures for pain management, orthopedic ultrasound guided procedures, EMG, Osteopathic manipulation, regenerative (platelet rich plasma, and Tenex procedures), and spasticity management,” Dr. Jakovich said.

As for his personal style of practice, it is often based on a team approach for treatment.

“I often work with physical, occupational and speech therapists, physicians, and other providers to collaborate in patient care. I include the patient in being part of the team,” Dr. Jakovich said. “As an Osteopathic Physician, I often use Osteopathic manipulation and Osteopathic principles as an adjunct in treatment.”

Partnership with Twin Cities Spine Center

NUMC is transitioning its surgical spine program to Twin Cities Spine Center and Dr. Ben Mueller, a Board Certified orthopaedic spine surgeon with Twin Cities Spine. He will see patients in person at NUMC as well as via telehealth.

“Twin Cities Spine Center has a 70-year history of treating spine patients from all over the world,” Dr. Mueller said. “The practice has research and experience with a wide variety of patients, spinal conditions, and treatments.”

Regarding his philosophy of care, Dr. Mueller said, “As a surgeon, my job is to inform, provide reasonable choices, and help guide patients through the decision-making process. Sometimes surgery is the best decision, however, there may be other options.”

Dr. Mueller treats conditions in all areas of the spine; cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) and lumbar (low back). He sees both adult and pediatric patients. He treats all spinal conditions, including a special interest in stenosis, scoliosis and disc replacement.

Having been born and raised in Germany, Dr. Mueller is fluent in both English and German. He came to the United States as a foreign exchange student at age 16. As a hockey player, one of his coaches in Germany had been from Minnesota, and that was how he chose Minnesota. He earned his undergraduate degree at St. Olaf College and completed his MD and PhD at the University of Minnesota. He is fellowship trained in spine surgery.

“My favorite part of my job is seeing the positive impact on people’s quality of life and their ability to function,” Dr. Mueller said. “Spine problems can affect people of all ages, so I have the privilege of serving both young and older patients, as well as all walks of life; from athletes to farmers to business people and retirees. It’s getting to know the people that I also enjoy.”

TC Spine/ Dr. Mueller’s clinics in New Ulm bring the best in specialty spine care right into NUMC, and is expected to draw other TC Spine patients (from Southern MN, SD and IA) into New Ulm for specialty spine consultations as well. Many patients will welcome the opportunity to be seen in the New Ulm community, instead of driving to Minneapolis or St. Paul.

Comprehensive Spinal Care Under One Roof

The team at NUMC is enthusiastic about the partnership with Twin Cities Spine and the introduction of Dr. Jakovich because, combined with other services at NUMC, it completes a more comprehensive spine clinic and offers services all in one facility so that patients do not have to travel for care.

The continuum of care will allow patients to access these services in such a way that their primary care physician can seamlessly coordinate with Dr. Jakovich or Dr. Mueller, who, in turn, have quick access to neurology and diagnostic assessments, and can also partner effortlessly with the physical therapists of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm, right on campus. Collaboration with area chiropractors is also deemed a critical leg in the inclusive spine care service line.

To schedule an appointment – in-person or via telehealth, call 507-217-5011 (Dr. Jakovich) or 612-775-6275 (Dr. Mueller).

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