Patient Stories

Smiling senior swimmer

 

Our patients inspire us every day. Read how we work together to care for our patient's injuries and get them back to fully enjoying their active lifestyles.

Please click the links below to expand and read the patient stories.

Kyle's Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation

Patient KyleDuring my sophomore year, my left knee had been bothering me during basketball and football practices. X-rays were inconclusive; an MRI showed I had osteochondritis dissecans: a piece of cartilage and small fragment of bone had come loose in my knee. At first my doctor tried a procedure to try and put the cartilage back using a screw. But that didn’t work, and that’s when I went to see Dr. Crawford at OHSU.

I met with Dr. Crawford and his team. They explained a procedure called an osteochondral allograft transplant, which means I would receive cartilage/bone from a donor to replace the damaged cartilage in my knee. 

Several months later, the new tissue was ready and I had the surgery for them to place it in my knee. The first week I wasn’t able to bend my knee at all; it was locked into the brace at 0 degrees, but after 1-2 weeks, they want you to gradually put more pressure on it so the piece lodges in the right place. So you gradually increase the amount you’re able—and allowed —to bend it. I was in a knee brace for 12 weeks and went to physical therapy twice a week for 12 weeks.

It was tough at first; I’ve always been an athlete and recovering from this made me appreciate even small things, like getting into the shower and using stairs.

I did get back to playing basketball, and had a game going with some friends when I suddenly felt a “pop” in my left knee. I went back to OHSU, worried something had happened with the previous surgery, but it was a different injury, a meniscus tear! Dr. Crawford went in and removed the torn area, and that was a 4-6 week recovery.

Months later, I was playing basketball, and felt pain in my right knee. After an MRI, we discovered that it wasn’t a meniscus tear, it was osteochondritis dissecans, now in the other knee. I had to do it all over again – remove a piece of tissue, wait for it to return, schedule the surgery. The second time was easier, because I knew what to expect, and I focused hard on getting healthy and strong again.

By my sophomore year of college, I had another MRI done at OHSU, and they said the piece looked great, and I had the ok to “Go live your life and not come back for another surgery for hopefully a long time!”

I had my surgeries at OHSU’s facility on the south waterfront, and was very impressed by the timeliness and professionalism of everyone. Dr. Crawford and the entire team were fantastic, especially his physician’s assistant, Sam and all the physical therapists. Because they knew I was an athlete, they would help push me and give me the tools to get healthy.  They were all really experienced helping people with this type of injury, and that played a big part in helping me get healthy as quickly as possible.

When something like this happens, you have to persevere and approach it with the right attitude. I’m glad I had the team at OHSU to help.  A significant aspect of the surgeries was that they were not only physical recoveries, but they were mental transformations that lead me to realize how special of a blessing health is, and the importance of living in the moment and approaching each day with positivity.

Jenna's Story: Concussions and SB 721

Jenna's Law signingIn April 2009, "Max's Law" (OAR 581-022-0421) was passed, requiring Oregon school districts to implement new concussion management guidelines for student athletes. However, those playing in sports outside of school—such as club sports—were not required to follow any specific concussion guidelines.

After suffering numerous headaches and other medical issues, Jenna, a championship skier, came to OHSU to see James Chesnutt, M.D. at the OHSU Concussion Program. Dr. Chesnutt is also a co-director of Oregon Concussion Awareness and Management Program (OCAMP), a consortium of professionals dedicated to helping Oregon schools effectively manage youth sports concussion.

Motivated by Jenna's story, Dr. Chesnutt, along with other medical and legal professionals including lawyer David Kracke and Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, M.D., realized that in order to create a consistent pattern of concussion awareness and management, the law would need to be expanded to club sports.

OHSU and Dr. Chesnutt were instrumental in getting Oregon Senate Bill 721, also known as "Jenna's Law," signed by Governor John Kitzhaber in September, 2013. Jenna's Law helps protect young people in non-school athletic programs by imposing requirements for recognizing and responding to possible concussions.

Jenna tells her story below.

JENNA'S STORY

About four years ago, I started having severe migraines. I went to doctor after doctor to find out why they kept happening, but got no answers. As a national gold medalist skier, I had a history of concussions, but when I asked the doctors if there was any connection between previous concussions and my current headaches, they said no.

By autumn of 2010, things were worse; I was slurring words and starting to fail out of school. We had a family friend who recommended OHSU, where I got a referral to Dr. Chesnutt.

I figured he'd just be another doctor who didn't get it. But then I started telling him about my symptoms, and he asked me about all the concussions I've had over the years. I realized there had been 11 of them. After more tests, Dr. Chesnutt diagnosed me with post-concussion syndrome.

I worked with occupational, speech, physical therapists, neuropsychologists, and eye doctors who specialized in sports injuries. I wore special prism glasses to help my eyes and brain work together; they're like what Hillary Clinton had to wear. I still have headaches, but trying to treat headaches from a concussion is like sticking your hand in a candy jar and seeing what you get; you have to try different things to see what works. Everyone at OHSU was just phenomenal. I couldn't have had a better team of therapists and doctors.

But after being diagnosed, that was it for skiing. I couldn't risk another concussion.

Obviously, I took it really hard. Not only that, but Dr. Chesnutt dictated my choice of classes. I could take one class a term that wasn't science, math or required lots of memorization. It was a lot to have to accept. I was depressed for a while.

Talking with Dr. Chesnutt helped; he understood what I was going through. He's straightforward and caring. By looking for things that were related, he saved my life.

I slowly added classes and now have a 3.4 overall GPA, a 3.7 GPA in my major and As in all my science classes. This spring I will graduate Oregon State with a Psychology major and Leadership minor. I've picked up golfing and scuba, which I really enjoy.

Helping testify to support Oregon Senate Bill 721 has been amazing. The bill requires sports leagues to educate parents, referees, coaches and kids over 12 to recognize concussion symptoms. When I learned they were thinking of calling it Jenna's Law, I was amazed and humbled. It was so cool and intense to meet everyone supporting the bill, like a crash course in politics.

I feel great about this bill being passed. It means someone will be looking out for you and taking head injuries seriously. Coaches can feel empowered by the bill, because they can say "no" to parents and kids when kids are injured. The bill saves the child from further injury later in life.

Brett's ACL Surgery

Patient BrettI've played sports my whole life. I've done plenty of things to my body, but when I blew out my ACL playing soccer, it felt like I got shot: it was excruciating. Everyone could hear the pop.

I had an MRI done, which showed the ACL was completely torn—and meant I'd need to find a surgeon to repair it. Friends recommended OHSU and Dr. Dennis Crawford.

Dr. Crawford was very good at presenting me with all my options, making recommendations, explaining all possible outcomes and walking me through the process. I felt listened to; he made it clear that he could make recommendations, but that the course of action I chose was up to me. Like most people, I prefer to stay away from hospitals if I can help it. I don't like needles, either. But I felt so well-prepared, from the appointments to the day of surgery and beyond.

After surgery, I was home the same day. I had a list of exercises and we began physical therapy shortly after. You get moving right away, to stimulate the muscles and minimize any atrophy. They wanted me to start moving that leg, pronto, under my own power.  My physical therapist, Erin, was great; she pushed me when she needed to, would mix things up to keep things interesting and really paid attention to my goals.

It's been six months already, and I feel great. I'm still healing—I'm taking it easy on soccer right now, but I can run and play ice hockey. Next month, I'm going on a ski trip. And I couldn't have done this without OHSU.

McKenzie's Story: Back in the Game

After tearing her ACL and having surgery to repair it, McKenzie undertook and committed to a coordinated physical therapy plan through OHSU. Watch the video about McKenzie's successful rehabilitation and return to basketball.

Trevin's Story: ACL, LCL, and PCL repair

Former patient trevin wakeboardingIn January, 2010, I went to Mount Hood Meadows to teach a friend to snowboard. After showing him the ropes most of the day, I decided to do a run by myself. I did a jump that I’ve done a thousand times - but I didn’t give it the respect it deserved. I’d locked my right knee, so when I hit the ground, it hyper-extended and I dislocated my femur.

I knew something was wrong instantly.

Ski patrol took me to urgent care, where they reset the bone and gave me pain medication, but they said I needed to go to OHSU right away and sent me there in an ambulance. At OHSU, I learned that in addition to peroneal nerve damage, I had torn my right knee’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

About a month later, Dr. Crawford  and his team performed knee surgery to fix my ACL, LCL and PCL all at once. It was a four-and a-half-hour process; they used the Achilles tendon from a cadaver to replace the torn ligaments; they then fastened them with screws. I had the utmost confidence in Dr. Crawford. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was honest, straightforward and answered all my questions. I appreciated his no-nonsense style of communication.

I had about six months of physical therapy to help rehabilitate my knee.  All the therapists were really nice and knowledgeable. Initially we did e-stimulation therapy to help my quadriceps contract around the reconstructed knee area, and then we worked on bending my knee, a little at a time. It was a slow process. Months later, I was able to get on a bike, and I quickly got into road and mountain biking. In early 2012, I had another surgery to have the screws removed. I was about at 90 percent of my pre-injury functionality at that time. After that surgery, I was only off my feet for about a month.

Now, I’m basically where I was before I had my accident. I can even sit on my knees and kneel so my butt touches my feet; I never thought I would be able to do that. I’m competing in a triathlon next month. I’m ecstatic about how well things are going.

I’ve always been athletic, and so a catastrophic injury like this messed with my head as well as my body.  I didn’t know who I would be if I couldn’t be as active as I always had been. Before my surgery, Dr. Crawford had told me there was a 60 percent chance I’d never run again, and a 90 percent chance I wouldn’t even walk normally. If my knee injury were just a fraction worse, surgery wouldn’t have even been a possibility.

I don’t think there is another doctor in the U.S. who could have restored my knee joint and physical ability to this degree. Dr. Crawford and his team changed my life.

Jeanie's Recovery from Concussion
Patient JeanieSix months ago, I was in a head-on car accident. A few days later, I couldn’t count to 10 or unload spoons from the dishwasher. I couldn’t sort the laundry into darks and lights. Trying to hold up my end of a conversation was exhausting. I ran into a friend of mine who said his son had recently suffered a concussion and recommended Dr. Chesnutt at OHSU.

I worked with Dr. Chesnutt as well as occupational and physical therapists. When I came in, I couldn’t sit down with a book and read - I got dizzy. I had occupational therapy to help my eyes track clearly. After the accident, I couldn’t walk a straight line. We did a lot of physical therapy that focused on balance. Normally, I teach fitness classes myself, so this was very humbling - but necessary. 

I’m a software engineer with my own business, so it was crucial for me to be as sharp as possible. With three kids all with their own activities, I’m the overseer of about 12 different electronic calendars! Jenny, one of the occupational therapists, helped me re-learn organizational skills and the importance of scheduling rests. Just two 20-30 minute rest times a day keep me focused and able to get back to doing everything I used to. 

It’s a shame that so many people who suffer from concussions don’t often get the help they need. An injury like this is so disruptive as well as traumatic. I think of it like breaking a bone- yes, sometimes it will heal without being set, but you want it to heal the right way. And you can tell when you’re working with high-end people. They know what they’re doing, how to help you and how to give you the proper encouragement. I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent yet, but I’m almost there - and I thank OHSU for that. 

After all, I want to make sure I beat my kids at board games again...

Toni's Rotator Cuff Repair

former patient ToniA couple of years ago, sleeping was a problem when I’d roll over onto my right shoulder: Pain would wake me up.

Since I am the kind of person who doesn’t usually deliberate when something needs to be done, I made an appointment with Dr. Dennis Crawford. He examined my shoulder, sent me for an X-ray and an MRI, and ultimately told me I had a torn rotator cuff. As I recall, one tendon was completely torn, two had tears and one was intact.

He told me I could wait to have my rotator cuff repaired, but if I waited too long, I might need a shoulder replacement. I trusted Dr. Crawford and scheduled surgery.

Before surgery, Dr. Crawford ordered physical therapy to strengthen my shoulder and hopefully provide a faster recovery. Also before surgery, I made the voluntary decision to have a nerve block.  This was an option to help with post-surgery pain. It was the right decision!

Stories abound about pain following rotator cuff surgery. But I am happy to report I was almost pain free. I was shocked - pleasantly shocked! So was my sister who traveled from NYC to be my Florence Nightingale. She’d heard the same pain stories!

My surgery was outpatient and laparoscopic. That meant I was home in about four hours with four small holes in my shoulder.

Physical therapy continued after surgery - twice a week for a couple months at OHSU with Lindsay Brown. She was my therapist before surgery, too. The mix of her great personality and medical expertise made it an enjoyable and physically rewarding experience. Physical therapy after surgery is hard work, and sometimes a little scary. She really relaxed me, but kept me on target!

Dr. Crawford is fabulous. It’s so important to believe in your physician. I liked and trusted him as a person, and in my medical experience I couldn’t ask for anything better. Everyone in his office and all the care related to my surgery was excellent.

Today both my health and arm are great. I’m an active senior with no arm discomfort; I can roll onto my shoulder without pain, just as Dr. Crawford said I would, and zip up dresses in the back. In fact, I just returned from a trip to Florida, where I had a massage. I told the masseuse I’d had rotator cuff surgery and asked if she noticed any difference between my left and right shoulders. She didn’t!

I live in the South Waterfront, and I love having OHSU as my neighbor. I have all my doctors there. It’s convenient, but beyond that I am thrilled with my medical care.