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L.A. doctor who performed Ben Roethlisberger’s surgery has Western Pa. roots

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent surgery for an elbow injury in Los Angeles on Monday, but his care was still in the hands of a Steelers Country native.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan Jobe Institute — surgeon to celebrities, professional athletes and a graduate of Mt. Pleasant Area School District, class of 1977.

His father, the late Dr. Selim F. El-Attrache of Mt. Pleasant, was a well-known surgeon who volunteered his time to the Mt. Pleasant football team.

ElAttrache, a longtime friend of Steelers team physician Jim Bradley — who grew up in Johnstown — made the move to Los Angeles after completing undergraduate studies at Notre Dame, followed by medical school and residency at the University of Pittsburgh.

He was recruited to the prestigious West Coast sports medicine clinic by “fathers of sports medicine” Robert K. Kerland and Frank W. Jobe.

Jobe developed the “Tommy John” procedure, named after the former Dodgers pitcher, to reconstruct elbow ligaments.

“I was in the right place at the right time, and I worked hard, so they asked me to stay and help take care of the Dodgers,” ElAttrache told the Tribune-Review in 2013.

ElAttrache has also served as team physician for the Los Angeles Rams.

ElAttrache was not permitted by the Steelers to comment about Roethlisberger’s procedure.

Elbow injuries are common in baseball pitchers, who throw dozens of pitches per game at full force, said Dr. David Chao, a former NFL team physician who operates the website profootballdoc.com.

Such injuries are less common in football players — the majority of football throws are not at full force — but can still occur, because the throwing motion puts stress on the ligament inside of the elbow, Chao said.

Surgery to correct the damage usually entails full reconstruction to the ligament rather than a repair to stitch it back together, Chao said.

“I do think he has a reasonable chance of returning,” Chao said of Roethlisberger, adding that baseball pitchers typically take 12 to 18 months to recover.

A statement from the Steelers described Roethlisberger’s right elbow surgery as a success.

“Once Ben returns to Pittsburgh, he immediately will begin working with the Steelers’ medical staff on his rehabilitation, and he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the field for the 2020 NFL season,” the statement said.

Roethlisberger posted a statement about the injury to social media Sept. 16, telling fans he is “completely determined to battle through this challenge and come back stronger than ever next season.”

From Ben this afternoon: pic.twitter.com/bwfhavUSld

— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) September 16, 2019

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