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Where surgical excellence gets you back in the game

Life threw Rick Boyer a curveball in 2012. The La Crescent native suffered a severe rotator cuff tear while pitching baseball in a Florida tournament. It was the culmination of years of wear and tear.

"I think we all believe we're invincible," admits the 61-year-old, "and then something happens and we find out that we're not quite so invincible."

Rick could no longer lift his right arm above his shoulder. For the high school baseball coach, grandfather and small business owner, the injury was devastating. His dominant arm was needed for so many things in life -- throwing at batting practice, demonstrating how to field ground balls, playing with his grandchildren and lifting furniture.

Rick wasn't about to throw in his towel. Instead, he turned to Gundersen Health System's trusted Orthopedic Surgery team for rotator cuff repair.

Orthopedic surgeon Bradley Fowler, MD, Sports Medicine -- Onalaska, explained that the surgery could be performed arthroscopically. This means it was done with the assistance of a scope (small camera) and through button-hole sized portals rather than a large incision.

Dr. Fowler promised Rick increased comfortable following surgery, but throwing again was not a guarantee. "In some cases, we are unable to completely repair a cuff if the tear is too large and chronic. That was my fear with Rick. Fortunately, his tissue was mobile and the repair was completed successfully," says Dr. Fowler.

Just days after surgery, Rick started rehabilitation and continued for nearly eight months."I went to Physical Therapy and worked really hard each morning before work. It got to be a way of life. The physical therapists became friends of mine, and walked me through each of the steps to recovery. The results were incredible," he says.

Today, Rick is not only back to coaching this beloved game, but pitching and playing, too. "Generally, we don't recommend throwing after this type of surgery because it is too stressful on the shoulder. However, Rick's recovery is a testament to modern technology (minimally invasive surgery) and his dedication to get his shoulder strong enough to throw again," says Dr. Fowler.

The results surpassed Rick's expectations, too. "Everything that I did as a younger baseball coach before surgery, I'm able to do 100 percent now after surgery. The experience at Gundersen changed my life by allowing me to do all the things I love to do again. I would recommend them to anyone," he says.

If you've suffered an orthopedic injury, there are options for a pain-free future. Schedule a consultation today.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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