Dancing Background Helps Doctor Keep His Balance
Published January 2010
How is being a doctor like being a ballroom dance instructor?
That’s a question Reginald Kapteyn, DO, is uniquely qualified to answer: He’s been successful at both. Kapteyn joined the department of physical medicine & rehabilitation faculty in November and serves as medical director of pain management at Drake Center, the department’s primary clinical site. Working with patients, he says, involves some of the same skills as teaching ballroom dancing.
“My wife, Nancy, and I had our own dance teaching business in West Virginia for about four years before I went to medical school, and it was just a blast,” he says. “I love people and truly enjoy the one-on-one relationship that a pro-fessional has with an individual.”
At the business, Kapteyn says, “a few of our students were physicians, and I even made ‘house calls’ to some of their homes to teach them and their family or friends. When I met these individuals, and talked about my idea for medical school, they said I should pursue it and kind of mentored me in that regard.
“I also had a good friend who was a physician who had always encouraged me to go to medical school because I love sciences.”
Kapteyn did indeed apply to medical school, undoubtedly becoming one of the few applicants to end his interview with an impromptu fox trot lesson. He graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, W.Va., in 2004.
After graduation, he served an internship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and his residency at Georgetown University/National Rehabilitation Hospital in Wash-ington, D.C., serving as chief resident his final year. Before being recruited to UC by Mark Goddard, MD, chair of physical medicine & rehabilitation, he was an international pain fellow in the department of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin.
Living in Washington gave Kapteyn another chance to display his musical talents—this time, his voice (he attended Hope College in Holland, Mich., on a music scholarship and majored in vocal music and psychology). In 2008, he sang the tenor part as the Brothers Flanagan quartet performed the national anthem at a Washington Nationals baseball game.
Now that he’s in Cincinnati, Kapteyn is concentrating on getting settled in at Drake Center, where his office still has the bare walls of a newcomer. He has plenty of work to keep him busy, with both inpatient and outpatient responsibilities in addition to his teaching duties.
“The osteopathic method generally is a little bit more holistic in its focus, and I’ve always taken that with me wherever I’ve gone to make sure that we’re treating the whole patient,” he says. “I firmly believe that a patient will not improve if you don’t treat the entire patient.
“This is especially true in pain medicine,” Kapteyn says, adding that he continues to use his osteopathic manipulative skills as well.
In a typical evaluation, Kapteyn will assess pain as well as multiple needs, including bio-psychosocial setting. He’ll evaluate the patient’s coping skills and screen for depression and/or anxiety, and implement the skills of his medical specialists for the multidisciplinary aspect of pain management—most of them right on Drake’s campus.
“In evaluating the pain, you have to assess the type of pain diagnosis, and there are typically multiple types. This guides your choice of appropriate medication to target the type of pain, and then your choice for intervention—such as an injection or pain pump,” Kapteyn says. “But most importantly, you need to keep working with them to help them regain the things they’ve lost.
“The basic idea is to decrease pain and improve function. That’s what we do.”
About 75 percent of Kapteyn’s patients have axial spine complaints, such as neck, mid-thoracic and low back pain, plus the joints that radiate from the back. He also treats general orthopedic complaints as well.
“We try to look at things to try to help the patient do better without surgery,” he says. “But if a patient definitely needs surgery because of structural derangement, then I work closely with him to refer for a surgical correction.”
Despite a busy schedule at work and at home in Kenwood with Nancy, a physical therapy assistant, and their three daughters aged 9, 7 and 4, Kapteyn won’t leave music behind. He’s been singing with a choir at Drake Center, and he hopes to stay involved through other local music groups when he has the time.
“I’ve always used music as a balance in my life,” he says. “It provides a bit of artistic escape, balancing that with the technical side of medicine and serving the medical needs of the community.”