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ACL Tear, ACL Reconstruction Surgery

Chris, a Sports Medicine patient, snowboarding

“Snowboarding is the most exhilarating physical activity out there. I just couldn’t imagine giving it up.” Meet Chris Neeld, an all-around sports and exercise enthusiast who loves the intense highs of snowboarding, the hard-hitting thrills of ice hockey, and the physical challenges of CrossFit.

“Over the years, my love for intense sports has taken its toll on my body, and multiple injuries to my shoulders and knee were really slowing me down.”

As an operating room nurse who specializes in orthopaedics, Chris understands the importance of seeking out the best care possible when an injury occurs. That’s why he turned to the pros at Penn Sports Medicine and the Penn Musculoskeletal Center.

The first time Chris came to Penn Medicine was in 2012, after a snowboarding fall that resulted in a nagging pain in his right shoulder. Chris met with James L. Carey, MD, MPH and together they weighed all his options -- nonsurgical and surgical.

“At Penn Medicine’s Musculoskeletal Center, my team looked at every motion, every joint and every muscle before recommending the best path to getting me back to peak performance.” Chris had suffered a labral tear in his shoulder that required arthroscopic surgery. His surgery and rehab went very well, and soon Chris was back to work. And of course, back out on the slopes.

It wasn’t long before Chris suffered another sports-related injury, this time totally re-tearing an old injury to his left ACL. Years ago, Chris had torn his ACL and had it repaired by a surgeon outside of the Penn Medicine network. But this time, thanks to the great experience he’d had with Dr. Carey and Penn Medicine during his shoulder surgery and recovery, Chris chose Penn.

“When I felt my knee pop, it was a pain I instantly recognized. And I knew I had to go see Dr. Carey right away.”

Chris and Dr. Carey have gotten to know each other very well, “We have a good rapport, and he’s great about explaining everything. He lets you explore the options, he doesn’t tell you what you have to get done.” Because this would be the second time in two years that Chris would need time off work for surgery, Dr. Carey came up with a plan that would get him back to work as quickly as possible.

Dr. Carey and his team at Penn Medicine’s Musculoskeletal Center use a unique whole-body approach to consider a full-range of options. In this case, Dr. Carey recommended repairing the torn ACL with the most advanced, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgical methods – using tendons from Chris’ own body.

The surgery was successful and Chris was able to return to work in just three weeks. After a few months of physical therapy, Chris was completely healed and 100% functional. As soon as he was cleared, he went back to enjoying the sports and activities he loves -- playing hockey, going to CrossFit and hitting the slopes on his snowboard.

“I never want to live being told I can’t do the things I love.”

Dr. Carey and the team at Penn Sports Medicine understand the importance of a life in motion, working to offer patients more options to improve their lives and achieve the best possible outcomes.

“Today, I’m back on the slopes, and that is worth Penn Medicine.”

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