Knee Orthopedics Patient Story: Treatment for Sports Injuries

Tennis Injury Leads to Tailored Orthopedic Treatment

Richard Diedrich and Omar Darr, MD, discuss treatment of an ACL and meniscus tear for a 67-year-old athlete.

At 67 years old, Richard Diedrich has devoted over six decades of his life to sports. softball, golf, tennis – he loved almost every sport he played. In high school and college he’d triumphed at tennis, and during retirement, he’d traveled across several states with a senior league softball team to the World Senior Games in St. George, Utah.

So when a tennis injury almost took him out of the game – permanently – Richard didn’t sit on the sidelines. Instead, he sought out customized orthopedic care that he could trust.

Richard’s Tennis Tragedy
 

The injury that could have ended his days participating in sports occurred during a game of tennis. Richard was playing doubles. He and his partner both went for the ball and collided. Thinking nothing was wrong, Richard got up, shook it off, and resumed playing.

“I thought I was fine. Then I felt something wobble in my knee, and my knee buckled,” Richard recalls.

Rest did not help as Richard had expected. In the days after the injury, his knee would still buckle unexpectedly. Knowing that something was wrong, he decided to seek help.

Richard decided to visit his primary care doctor, Aurora physician Richard Bunting, MD. It was immediately clear to the doctor that Richard needed to see an orthopedic specialist.

The Patient-Doctor Partnership at Aurora Health Care
 

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A few days later, at the referral of Dr. Bunting, Richard met with Omar Darr, MD, a specialist in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery with Aurora Advanced Orthopaedics. He was immediately impressed with the care he received, saying, “Dr. Darr had it figured out right away – even without the MRI.”

Dr. Darr knew that Richard had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and a torn meniscus. The doctor discussed treatment options with Richard. He could have the torn meniscus partially removed to get rid of the pain, but he would have to give up tennis and softball. Richard was also given the option of having his ACL replaced at the time of his meniscus surgery, which would allow him to return to high-level, physical activity.

Richard wasn’t ready to give up sports, an important part of his life for over six decades. But more importantly, he wanted to continue enjoying retirement with his wife of 41 years, and spend as much time as possible with his five active grandchildren. So, based on Richard’s good health, high activity level and desire to stay involved in sports as long as possible, they decided to replace the ACL during the meniscus surgery.

“Dr. Darr felt that the [ACL replacement] was the best option – but he wanted me to be comfortable with that decision, too,” Richard says. “It really was a joint decision.”

The surgery was quick and went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for. Richard's rehabilitation process began almost immediatly.

“The transition was seamless,” Richard says. “Dr. Darr’s staff actually scheduled my first physical therapy session before the surgery."

Home rehabilitation began two hours after the surgery. Richard was thrilled that the equipment for his home exercises was delivered the day of the surgery, and the setup and demonstrations of the equipment were taken care of immediately.

In addition to having at-home rehab, Richard attended 30 physical therapy sessions at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton with the Aurora Sports Medicine Institute team. He went through a program designed not only to help heal his ACL and meniscus injuries, but to help him achieve his own goals.

“We did a lot of balance and agility drills,” Richard says. “It’s built around my individual recovery – the pace, the exercises.”

By following his therapy routine closely, Richard's recovery was very quick. “It paid immediate benefits,” he said.

Getting Back in the Game After Surgery
 

Acl and miniscus repair patient

Richard was very pleased with the care he received from Aurora’s physical therapy experts.

“The staff really knows their stuff,” Richard comments. “If something’s not quite right, they’ll know right away. They can see and feel the difference between how you are and how you should be.”

He also noted the excellent communication between his physical therapy team and physicians, saying, “I didn’t have to [start rehab] and tell them my story every time. They knew – Dr. Darr would talk with the physical therapists. They would talk with Dr. Darr. Just great communication, and a great team.”

Today, Richard is looking forward to many more years of sports – tennis, softball and more.

“That’s why I opted for this surgery and rehab,” he says. “I thought maybe it was time to quit. But Dr. Darr said I didn’t have to. He said with help, I could get back to it. And now, thanks to him and his team, I am.”