Restoring Dreams: Mike's Story
Orthobiologics Help Athletes Return to Peak Performance
|Hometown||Whitby, Ontario (formerly of Lake Forest)|
|Injury||Repeat shoulder dislocations, severe bone loss|
|Outcome||Bone and tissue transplant spring 2010, back on the ice in fall 2010|
"I started playing ice hockey at five years old, getting up at 5:00 a.m. for practice in my hometown of Whitby, Ontario. Millbrook, a New York prep school with a competitive athletics program, recruited me for their hockey team. It was during my junior year when I first felt a sharp pain and a clicking sensation in my shoulder when I took a shot.
"After high school, I took a year off to play in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and my shoulder became worse. During a scuffle near the net, my shoulder dislocated. This began happening every few months, partly because I’m an aggressive player; most goalies experience lower body impact, but I move my whole body around. A physician in Canada diagnosed me with a slight tear in my labrum (shoulder cartilage). But he said, 'Don’t worry…play through it.'
"I did work through the pain, and I was even recruited by Lake Forest College. That’s when the pain ramped up. We were on the ice six times a week, and just moving my arms while sleeping would dislocate my shoulder. Then my shoulder dislocated during a game, and the other team scored a goal on the play. My coaches said, 'You’re done.'
"They had Dr. Chams (Roger N. Chams, MD, the team’s physician, affiliated with Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital) evaluate me. He moved my shoulder back slightly and it dislocated in his hand. A few people standing around near the training room saw that, and they actually started screaming.
"Dr. Chams determined that I had major bone loss in my shoulder socket and all of my ligaments were torn. He explained that I would have only a 65 percent chance of recovery with a traditional surgical procedure. Just like that, my season—and maybe my career—was over.
"But he talked with me about a reconstructive surgery that transplants cartilage from a cadaver’s ankle into the shoulder. At the time, only a handful of these procedures had been performed in the country. But because of Dr. Chams’ reputation and experience, I felt confident.
"Friends say I don’t have an 'off switch,' and taking things slow during recovery wasn’t easy. But within six months I was back in training. And within the year, my strength and confidence returned. That was nice—being able to get wild in the net again and take dives for the puck without pain.
"In the end, the Lake Forest College team had to release me because of the timing of my surgery and recovery. But then I got a call from Salve Regina University, a private college in Rhode Island. They wanted to recruit me for the ECAC Northeast Hockey Conference. I transferred all of my academic work, finished out the 2010-2011 season with the Seahawks, and things have been going well in the new season.
"It’s incredible. I literally went down the street to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital to get this amazing, cutting-edge procedure with Dr. Chams, a procedure that very few surgeons are performing. I can honestly say that without it I might not be finishing my degree at Salve, and I definitely wouldn’t be playing hockey."