Growing up, my passion has always been and continues to be ice hockey. Playing at the collegiate level, I have a strong desire to be on the ice and have no intention of stopping anytime soon.
A few years ago, I injured my right knee damaging multiple structures throughout. I had my ACL surgically repaired and rehabilitated to the point where I felt pretty good and ready to return to the ice. In my first few experiences returning back to the ice, I had some pain in my knee that I was certain was just residual pains from my ACL repair and that they would abate after ongoing strengthening and increased time spent skating.
The time finally came where I was going to play my first game since injuring my knee almost a year earlier. I felt pretty good at the beginning of the game, but after a short time, my knee began to deteriorate feeling weak with a sharp pain behind my knee cap every time I would push off resulting in significant knee swelling afterwards. Something wasn’t right. After further investigation, it was deemed that I had a cartilage defect behind my knee cap that was chiefly impacted with the positioning/stance and quad contraction elicited during the skating stride. I was devastated to say the least. After doing my research, I set up an appointment to meet with Dr. Freedman to take a look at my knee as his specialty was sports medicine with a subspecialty in complex cartilage related injury and restoration.
From day one, I was blown away with the compassion, knowledge, and professionalism of Dr. Freedman, Shawna his Physician Assistant, and the Rothman Institute staff. After being provided with multiple options, Dr. Freedman and I concluded that the best option was to perform Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI), a 2-part procedure that involved harvesting some of my cartilage from my own knee, growing more of it as a gel like immature cartilage, then performing the second part of the procedure to implant the new cartilage with the end result being healthy mature cartilage taking place of the defect in my knee.
Due to the nature of this surgery, rehab protocols are slow to allow the implanted cartilage to mature and repair the damaged area. As a physical therapist and healthcare professional myself, I was a little disheartened at the length of time I was expecting this would take to return to full health and the sport I love. Looking back, I can honestly say return to full health and return to hockey was a lot less painful and took a lot less time than I had originally anticipated.
I am beyond happy with the outcome as I feel like my knee is as healthy as ever. Since surgery, I have made a full recovery returning to the sport I love and even squatting and lifting more weight than I had prior to injury. My knee feels great and I have Dr. Freedman, Shawna, and the staff at Rothman Institute to thank for the wonderful job they did.