Dr. Timothy Mologne gets athletes and weekend warriors up and running

by Nikki Kallio

While Dr. Timothy Mologne grew up with a father who was a general surgeon, Mologne didn’t really have an interest in following in those footsteps — his interest in medicine came later, when he was playing football at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

During his time there he met the team physician, the now-retired Dr. Jay Cox.

“He was an orthopedic doctor and practiced sports medicine, and I had played sports all of my life,” Mologne said.

“And I thought that he had a cool job. Sports medicine, orthopedic doctor. So that’s what I wanted to do right away.

Mologne spent 20 years in the Navy and flew F-14s as a naval flight surgeon during Desert Storm. He served as an orthopedic surgeon in Okinawa, Japan, and then taught sports medicine and arthroscopy at a naval teaching center in San Diego. “I don’t think you could find a more thorough sports medicine experience than a military practice,” he said.

Now, Mologne has carried his love of sports medicine and experience treating young military personnel over to active adults of all ages at Orthopedic & Sports Institute. With a special interest in caring for shoulders, and an expertise in cartilage restoration, Mologne’s background creates a valuable addition to the OSI team, which he joined in January 2019.

“Being an athlete myself and understanding the drive and the disappointment with injuries, I love interacting with young athletes and trying to get them back,” Mologne said.

“You apply the same thing to a middle-aged worker with a rotator cuff tear, because their life and recreational activities are put on hold.

Mologne, originally from Denver, was a wrestler and played football in high school before being recruited to play football for the Naval Academy.

“The Navy put me through all of my school, all of my training, so I have nothing but positives,” he said. “I joke about it, but it was very true. I went off to the Naval Academy at 17 with $200, an alarm clock, a razor and I got everything else from them.

Mologne arrived in the Fox Cities in 2004 and is a fellow of the American Society of Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, one of only three surgeons in the state to be accepted into the society. He is an expert in cartilage restoration work, having spent about 20 years transplanting articulate and meniscus cartilage, an interest also sparked by his participation in sports.

“When I did my sports medicine fellowship, I got exposure to it, and then you just take it from there until you get a ton of experience, especially with this young population of people that damage their knees and so forth,” he said.

Patients from around the state and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have seen Mologne for cartilage restoration, and he serves as a part of an international cartilage think tank study group, Metrics of Osteochondral Allografts. The group meets about twice a year to share ideas and propose study topics. In August, Mologne is leading a new study through the University of Michigan on three-dimensional surface mapping and reconstruction of cartilage. People might notice a problem with cartilage first with swelling or catching in the joint.

Mologne also has an interest in the shoulder and pursued his fellowship with the world-renowned Southern California Orthopedic Institute in Los Angeles performing shoulder arthroscopy.

“It’s a joint that’s complicated; it has the most variability of motion of any joint in the body. So it’s a lot of pathology that can occur. When I got into my fellowship, there were very few people doing most of these shoulder procedures arthroscopically.

At OSI, he appreciates being able to deliver VIP service to patients, getting them into surgery very soon after consultation — in some cases, within a week or less.

“We’ve tried, I think very successfully, to see patients very promptly and get their procedure done promptly,” he said.

“That’s almost unheard of — other than Mayo Clinic — that you would come in for a consultation and get your surgery done that fast. I don’t know that a Green Bay Packer would get the same. Honestly.

Mologne and his wife, Shari, live in Appleton and they have two grown children. Since his kids have left the house the past few years, Mologne has reconnected with some of his personal interests. He plays guitar, for one, and he enjoys fly-fishing both in Wisconsin and back in his home state of Colorado. He’s also participated in Ironman Triathalons (112 miles of biking, a 2.4-mile swim and a 26.2-mile run) — the next one coming up in October in Barcelona, Spain.

“I was taking care of a patient that came in with discomfort in her leg after doing the Ironman in Wisconsin. It was a heck of a feat, and I was I guess internally challenged, like, ‘why can’t you do that?’ So that’s how it started.

Molonge himself has gone through multiple surgeries, including meniscus, back, elbow and shoulder — so he knows what it means to patients to recover and get back the mobility they seek.

“You’ve got doctors that are operating on cancers and bad medical illnesses, and you say, ‘Gosh, they’re doing so much more than we are.’ But in terms of the psyche and putting a smile on people’s faces, what we do is important, too.