Patient Stories

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.

Sports Medicine patient Kyle

During 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.

ACL surgery patient Brett

I'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.

Sports Medicine patient Trevin wakeboardng

In 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, lateral collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament.

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.

Sports Medicine patient Toni

A 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.

Sports Medicine patient Laura

I remember the moment I injured my knee 22 years ago. I was playing college field hockey when my opponent missed the ball and whacked my kneecap. I immediately fell to the ground in pain. Unfortunately, MRI was not readily available, so the doctors missed that I had a patellar fracture (broken kneecap).

After my injury, I was never again able to run long distances without severe pain. Over the next 22 years, I sought treatment many times. Some doctors told me unstable knees were common in women my age. Or I was told I just needed to strengthen the muscles around my knee. Eventually, I just gave up. Despite my love for running, I got into other sports like biking and tae kwon do. Unfortunately, this was not the answer. I started to have clicking and popping in my knee just with regular walking. It hurt to go up and down stairs.

As an operating room nurse at OHSU, I asked the bone and joint nurses who they would see if they had my problem.  They told me without a doubt that I should see Dr. Dennis Crawford because of his specialization in sports medicine. I was 38 years old when I finally had my first MRI. It showed the patellar fracture and all the cartilage damage from years of wear and tear after my injury.

I had a knee arthroscopy by Dr. Crawford and his skilled physician assistant. The whole team was professional, caring and supportive. During my recovery at home, a specialist from the pain service called every day to check on my pain level and medication status. Almost two years later, I have no knee pain with regular activities. The popping and clicking is gone. I can do tae kwon do and Bikram yoga, and bike to and from work with ease.

What I appreciate most is that Dr. Crawford took the time to listen to me. He recognized the importance of physical activity in my life and how frustrated I was at having to work around it. I’m thankful to him and my entire healthcare team for helping me get my active life back. 

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Convenient locations

OHSU Center for Health & Healing
Building 1, 12th floor
3303 S. Bond Avenue
Portland, OR 97239

OHSU Beaverton
15700 S.W. Greystone Court
Beaverton, OR 97006

Gabriel Park
4411 S.W. Vermont
Portland, OR 97219

Orenco Station
6355 N.E. Cornell Rd #100
Hillsboro, OR 97124

Meet the Sports Medicine team

Our nationally-recognized specialists care for athletes of all abilities and ages.

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OHSU's Sports Medicine program is the official team doctor for Portland State University athletics.