VALDOSTA -- Young athletes who have regained the ability to play the sports they love are some of the many patients who give high marks to Dr. Curt Starling.

An orthopedic surgeon, Starling specializes in sports medicine and injuries, along with complex joint replacement surgeries. He opened his new 3,500 square foot office in the Northwind business park off North Oak Street Ext. on Tuesday, the first professional to locate in the commercial section of the new development.

Formerly located in the doctor's building at South Georgia Medical Center, Starling relocated to Valdosta two years ago to work for the Hughston Clinic before going out on his own several months ago. He works with athletes from a number of area high schools, including Valdosta, Lowndes, Clinch and Brooks, and also sees athletes from Moultrie and Thomasville, as well as Valdosta State University.

"Sixty percent of my patients have knee and shoulder injuries from playing sports," Starling said. "The most common injuries are ACL tears."

The ACL, or Anterior Cruciate Ligament, is a ligament that connects the tibia, or leg bone, to the femur, or thigh bone. It prevents the leg from moving forward relative to the thigh and is located across the center of the knee.

"The typical 18-year old athlete that tears their ACL has same-day surgery, walks the next day, is on crutches for two weeks, in a brace for two weeks and is back playing their sport within six months."

Starling believes in catering to his patients' needs and prides himself on having a practice geared toward making the patient's experience as pleasant as possible, from start to finish.

The new office features a comfortable waiting area, furnished much like a private living room, with muted colors and soft music playing in the background. He and his staff also try to ensure short waiting times.

Starling is dedicated to providing his patients with as much information as possible about their conditions, showing them models of the injured joint along with videotapes about the options available to them.

One of the few completely all-electronic physician's offices in the region, all of the patient medical records, billing, scheduling, etc. are all built into a complex, state of the art system that will also soon include digital X-rays.

"My practice administrator, Elaine Carter, recently attended a national conference with administrators from around the country and much larger cities, and when they asked whose practice was completely automated, she was the only one who stood up. They couldn't believe she was from Valdosta, Georgia," Starling said.

Originally from Valdosta, Starling graduated from the University of Georgia, the Emory University School of Medicine, where he did his orthopedic surgery residency, and completed a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Tennessee.

To contact Business Editor Kay Harris, please call 244-3400, ext. 280.

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