Tamara A. Scerpella, MD
Orthopedics
Summary

A former collegiate gymnast with an ACL tear, Dr. Scerpella understands the difficulty of recovering from sport-related injury. Now team physician for the UW Badger Women’s Hockey and Softball teams, she has more than 25 years of experience treating similar injuries in these elite athletes and in athletes of all ages and abilities. As Senior Vice Chair of the Department, Dr. Scerpella oversees the educational, research and clinical missions of the vibrant, experienced and nationally recognized orthopedic surgery faculty.

Research Interests
  • The role of adolescent physical activity in the improvement of peak bone mass
  • Functional outcome following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
  • Surgical outcomes of medial patellofemoral ligament repair for recurrent patellar instability
Clinical Interests
  • Treatment of knee and shoulder instability, cartilage tears, and rotator cuff injuries
  • Arthroscopic surgery for capsulolabral and ligament injuries, rotator cuff tears, cartilage damage, and exertional compartment syndrome
Honors & Awards
  • Recipient of the University of Wisconsin Slesinger Award for Excellence in Mentoring, 2020
  • University of Southern California Department of Orthopedic Surgery Visiting Professor, 2019
  • Woman In Science Award, American Medical Women’s Association, 2017
  • Ballantine Endowed Professorship for Orthopedic Research
  • President, The Forum, Society for Women Orthopedic Sports Medicine Specialists
  • Honorable Mention, Dean's Award for Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentorship, 2015
  • American College of Sports Medicine –Applied/Clinical Science Research Award, Bone Interest Group, Annual Meeting, 2013
  • American Medical Association – Women Physician’s Congress Physician Mentor Recognition Program, 2008
For My Patients

Before Surgery:

If you recently injured your knee, it is important for you to recover the ability to fully extend (straighten) your knee and bend your knee to at least a right angle before surgery. This may take as long as 3-4 weeks after injury. Having surgery before your swelling goes down and your motion recovers may result in stiffness and difficulty regaining motion after surgery. It is also important that you are able to engage your quadriceps muscle and perform a straight leg raise before we proceed with surgery. We will help you with methods to achieve these goals during your clinic and PT visits

After Surgery:

You will go home from surgery with your knee in a brace and an ice pad on your knee. When you return home after surgery, continue to ice and elevate your leg, so that the knee is higher than the level of your heart. This will help to diminish swelling. Work on ankle pumps and circles to diminish the risk of a blood clot, doing a few minutes of exercise each hour that you are awake. Try to fire your quadriceps muscle by attempting to push the back of your knee downward into the bed or couch – do this 5-10 times every hour that you are awake. When you are able to fire that muscle adequately, you can then try to lift your leg up 10-12 inches off the bed or couch and hold it for the count of 3. This is a straight leg lift and if you can repeat this 10 times in a row, several times each day, you will be able to maintain a fair amount of your quadriceps strength.

Leave your brace on your leg full time. You may open the buckles or tighten/loosen the Velcro straps to readjust it as needed, but don’t unlock it or change the settings. Your PT will help you refit or adjust the brace at your first appointment if needed.

You may change your dressing 2-3 days after surgery, replacing the surgical dressing with fresh gauze and rewrapping the Ace wrap and brace. You may take a shower with your leg/brace covered in a plastic bag and taped at the thigh to keep it waterproof.

You will begin PT 3-7 days after surgery and you will be instructed in additional exercises to help begin your rehab. You will also receive assistance with your gait. Keep using your crutches to bear at least part of your weight, until your PT instructs you otherwise. You will be seen in the clinic by me or one of my physician assistants/nurse practitioners about 7-10 days after surgery. We will inspect your wound, assess your early progress and help you with return to work (or out of work) forms, etc.

After Surgery:

When you return home after surgery, continue to ice and elevate your leg, so that the knee is higher than the level of your heart. This will help to diminish swelling. Work on ankle pumps and circles to diminish the risk of a blood clot, doing a few minutes of exercise each hour that you are awake. Try to fire your quadriceps muscle by attempting to push the back of your knee downward into the bed or couch – do this 5-10 times every hour that you are awake. When you are able to fire that muscle adequately, you can then try to lift your leg up 10-12 inches off the bed or couch and hold it for the count of 3. This is a straight leg lift and if you can repeat this 10 times in a row, several times each day, you will be able to maintain a fair amount of your quadriceps strength.

You may change your dressing in 2-3 days and use waterproof bandaids to keep your incisions dry in the shower. Change to regular bandaids after showering.

You will begin PT 3-7 days after surgery and you will be instructed in additional exercises to help begin your rehab. You will also receive assistance with your gait. Unless instructed otherwise, you may stop using your crutches if you are able to walk with minimal to no limp. This might happen as early as 3-4 days after surgery, or may take up to 2-3 weeks. You will be seen in the clinic by me or one of my physician assistants/nurse practitioners about 7-10 days after surgery. We will inspect your knee and incisions, assess your early progress and help you with return to work (or out of work) forms, etc.

If you have questions, please call our nursing staff at 608-263-8850 or contact us via MyChart.

After Surgery:

You will go home from surgery with your arm in a sling and an ice pad on your shoulder. Keep them both on and use the ice machine as much as possible to help with pain control and swelling. You may remove your brace and let your arm hang at your side and you may lean forward at the waist while doing this to let your arm dangle like an elephant’s trunk. This will allow you to clean under your arm and will give you a little bit of safe shoulder movement. You may change your dressing 2-3 days after surgery and cover the incisions with waterproof bandaids so that you can take a shower. Don’t try to lift or move your arm while you are doing this! Change to regular bandaids after showering.

When you are sitting and resting you may (and should) take your brace off to work on elbow and wrist motion, but you MUST put your brace back on to get up and move around OR to sleep, in order to protect the somewhat fragile surgical repair until it heals.

You will begin PT 5-10 days after surgery and will receive instructions regarding shoulder and other arm motion. You will see me or one of our physician assistants/ nurse practitioners 7-10 days after surgery. We will assess your wounds and early recovery progress and help you with any return to work or work excuse forms at that time. Please call 608-263-8850 or send a MyChart message if you have questions before then.

After Surgery:

You will go home from surgery with your arm in a sling and an ice pad on your shoulder. Keep them both on and use the ice machine as much as possible to help with pain control and swelling. You may remove your brace and let your arm hang at your side and you may lean forward at the waist while doing this to let your arm dangle like an elephant’s trunk. This will allow you to clean under your arm and will give you a little bit of safe shoulder movement. You may change your dressing 2-3 days after surgery and cover the incisions with waterproof bandaids so that you can take a shower. It is very important that you don’t try to lift or move your arm while you are doing this! Use the elephant trunk position by bending forward at the waist while in the shower to wash under your arm. Change to regular bandaids after showering.

When you are sitting and resting you may (and should) take your brace off to work on elbow and wrist motion, but you MUST put your brace back on to get up and move around OR to sleep, in order to protect the fragile surgical repair until it heals.

You will begin PT 5-10 days after surgery and will receive instructions regarding shoulder and other arm motion. You will see me or one of our physician assistants nurse practitioners 7-10 days after surgery. We will assess your wounds and early recovery progress and help you with any return to work or work excuse forms at that time. Please call 608-263-8850 or send a MyChart message if you have questions before then.

Video
Locations

Research Park Clinic

Phone: (608) 263-8850

UW Health at The American Center

Phone: (608) 263-8850

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Administrative Assistant
Tina Bugel