Tomah athlete returns to help others

Tomah athlete returns to help others

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Dr. T.J. Bramwell, a Tomah native, works as an orthopedic surgeon for Mayo Clinic Health System in Tomah and Onalaska.

TOMAH -- Dr. T.J. Bramwell first became interested in medicine while playing running back for Tomah High School’s football team in 1998.

His primary physician, Dr. Rod Erickson, attended each game, sitting on the sidelines with the players and helping injured players get back on their feet.

Sixteen years later, Bramwell works beside Erickson as a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Mayo Clinic Health System in Onalaska and Tomah.

“I’ve been in this clinic as a patient, as a medical student and now as a practicing physician. It has been amazing to go through that large of a part of your life and be in all those different positions,” Bramwell said.

Bramwell knew going into college that he wanted to learn about medicine, but playing college football led him to focus on taking care of people’s bones and joints.

“I was pretty lucky. I had some ankle and minor knee injuries, but actually I never had surgery,” Bramwell said.

But most members of the team still worked regularly with an orthopedic surgeon.

“We’d still have to do some therapy for aches and pains, and I’d see those guys recovering from surgery and working hard to get back to the sport,” Bramwell said.

Bramwell wanted the chance to see athletes recover with his help.

After receiving his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Des Moines University in Iowa and completing his orthopedic residency program through Ohio University, Bramwell is able to help people with all of their bone and joint injuries.

“It really goes through all walks of life,” Bramwell said.

Bramwell enjoys helping athletes with their injuries, watching them get better and get back to their lives, but he likes helping all others, not just athletes. He helps everyone, from children with broken bones to adults with joint reconstruction.

“Once people are at the point where they have end-stage arthritis and are in so much pain every day just walking around, being able to get rid of that arthritis and take that pain away is very rewarding,” Bramwell said.

A large part of patients’ recovery involves being near their family and their doctor.

“That’s why it’s important to me to try and see people here,” Bramwell said.

It’s important for patients to remain close to their support system.

“Patients may not want to travel that far, but the hardest thing is getting a ride, getting family to be able to be with them, getting everybody off of work and coordinating that care,” Bramwell said.

“Bringing things closer to home makes all of that easier to do,” he added.

Director of Patient Care Sue Christianson said Bramwell’s arrival fills a need in the Tomah community.

“It’s really a benefit to the patients,” Christianson said.

Christianson said it was great for the patients to have an orthopedic surgeon in their community. Although Tomah Memorial Hospital also has doctors of orthopedics, Bramwell is the first from Mayo Clinic Health System to work in Tomah each week.

“I think there are enough people that need care that it warrants us to be here as well and taking care of people,” Bramwell said.

Bramwell’s Tomah roots are a bonus for the clinic, Christianson said.

“It’s fun just because he knows so many people,” Christianson said.

The experience is positive for both patients and Bramwell.

“It’s enjoyable to see people you know on a regular basis and take care of them,” Bramwell said.

Bramwell wanted to work in Tomah in a way that would be beneficial to the community, he said.

“I had a great experience here growing up myself, as did my wife,” he said.

Bramwell and his wife, Kendall, live in Onalaska, where Bramwell works most days, but Tomah remains their hometown. Both his parents, Tom and Julie Bramwell, and his in-laws live in Tomah.

“I don’t know if I can become a Hilltopper from a sports standpoint, but thankfully we don’t have to deal with that problem yet. Our kids are still young,” Bramwell said.

“Once people are at the point where they have end-stage arthritis and are in so much pain every day just walking around, being able to get rid of that arthritis and take that pain away is very rewarding.”

Dr. T.J. Bramwell, orthopedic surgeon

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