Pictured Top: Brett Braly, M.D. Pictured Bottom: Doug Beacham III, D.O.
Dr. Brett Braly’s path to his present career as an orthopedic spine surgeon at the Spine Clinic of Oklahoma City began on a high school wrestling mat in Enid.
During practice one day Braly sustained an injury that ultimately resulted in a spinal fusion. It ended his wrestling career and opened another door. He had always wanted to go into medicine, but having lived through a spinal injury gave that dream a focus.
“That was my bright flashing light,” Braly said. “I did well after my surgery and I wanted to give something back. It took me out of competitive wrestling, and it put me in the library.”
He didn’t have to look far for guidance. His family has a long tradition in medicine. Braly’s father, grandfather and uncle have had medical careers of some kind in Oklahoma.
“That’s what my family had always done and it was definitely something I wanted to do,” he said.
Braly’s education took him first to the University of Oklahoma, and later to Emory University in Atlanta, and the University of Pittsburgh. Through it all, the spine and how it worked, and how it could be treated, captivated him.
“The spine has an interesting anatomy in itself,” Braly said. “You can have big deformities that require engineering and structural thinking and you can have nerve injuries that require more fluid, dynamic thinking. One day you can be working through a tiny microscope and the next you can be breaking the back of a patient with scoliosis with a mallet.”
One of Braly’s greatest passions is staying on the cutting edge of new techniques.
“Continuing to learn is a big part of it for me,” Braly said. “I’m always striving to keep up with what’s been proven to be safe and better than what we’re doing now. I’m not a proponent of this is how we’ve always done it. I think that’s how you get what you’ve always had. If you want old outcomes, you have old surgeries.”
Braly has taught advanced spinal surgery techniques in Italy and the Netherlands. In 2018, he was named to the North American Spine Society’s “20 under 40” list. His favorite outcome is seeing patients that don’t ultimately require surgery. Braly said only 5 to 10 percent of patients that visit the Spine Clinic require surgery. The rest see their injury treated by other options.
“I tell patients all the time it’s a quality of life issue,” he said. “Nobody needs to have surgery until you tell me you can’t live with this anymore. But the majority of patients never meet me because our PA’s and Dr. (Doug) Beacham do such a good job in helping people.”
But if Braly does have to operate, the reward is seeing his patients get back to life again.
“Today I saw a patient who is six weeks out from a lumbar decompression,” he said. “She looks amazing and she’s pain free. She was able to cook Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t get into it for awards or prestige. You get into it to help create outcomes like that.”
The Spine Clinic of Oklahoma City
9800 Broadway Ext. Ste 203
Oklahoma City, OK 73114
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