OAA Patient Ambassador: Meet Jeff

January 12, 2018

Meet Jeff – a Carolina Tar Heel and lifelong athlete. While Jeff’s sport of choice was baseball in his earlier years, today he finds himself getting the most enjoyment from outdoor actives like skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and mountaineering. Jeff also has a sincere passion for something that encompasses several of his favorite outdoor activities: adventure racing.
 Jeff Competing
While adventure racing is not new, it is relatively uncommon compared to other sports. When asked about Jeff’s sport of choice, he explained “In the 1990’s I was fortunate to get introduced to adventure racing when it was in its infancy. Adventure racing is a multi-sport endurance event that includes trail running, mountain biking, canoeing, white-water rafting, mountaineering, and navigation. It is a team sport with elite classes running as 3-4-person teams. Races can be as short as 25 miles, and as long as 450 miles. You must navigate your way through the wilderness with only a compass and topographic map; no GPS is allowed. The first team to navigate their way through all the checkpoints and get to the finish line wins. In the longer races you can and will travel for multiple days with no more than an hour or two of sleep each day. In races lasting 24 -36 hours you typically will not sleep at all. I have raced throughout the entire country, have competed in the National Championships six times and was recently the course designer for the 2017 National Championship at Split Rock Lodge in Lake Harmony, PA. Needless to say, this is my passion.”
Clearly, Jeff has a love for this rigorous sport, so when he injured his knee skiing in Vermont in 2015 he was concerned and immediately worried that he would have to forgo adventure racing for a long period of time. After an emergency visit in Vermont, Jeff turned to Dr. Christopher Hawkins of OAA’s Sports Medicine Institute for help. “I have been a friend of the Keblish family since I was a kid, and the late Dr. Peter Keblish was an original founder of OAA,” Jeff shared.
Dr. Hawkins is a fellowship-trained sports medicine surgeon and team physician for several local high school and college athletic programs. He finds great satisfaction from helping patients return to their sports or activities of choice, and hoped to do just that for Jeff.
Dr. Hawkins 
When Dr. Hawkins explained Jeff’s injury and treatment plan, he shared “Jeff ruptured his patellar tendon, and tore his ACL, MCL, and meniscus while he was skiing. It was a rather complex injury that required a staged two-step surgical treatment plan and a lot of physical therapy. In the first surgery, we repaired his patellar tendon and MCL. This surgical intervention typically requires 3-6 months of physical therapy, but for Jeff, the goal of this surgery and course of physical therapy was to get his knee strong enough for the physical therapy that he would need to do for his second surgery. The second surgery was done to repair Jeff’s meniscus and ACL. This required another 6 months of post-operative physical therapy. By staging his procedure, and specifically repairing his patellar tendon, he was able to aggressively and appropriately rehabilitate from his arthroscopic ACL reconstruction.”

While his injury was significant, Jeff remained committed to rehabilitation and focused on his goal of getting back to adventure racing. After two surgeries and two and half years of rehab and training, Jeff completed his first race after his injury in June of 2017. “I finished in 11 hoursJeff Biking and 37 minutes and that race included mountain biking, canoeing, and trail running all with a full pack. I had no pain and no swelling. I was tired, but my knee was healthy, and I felt like a million bucks,” Jeff remembered.
Two months later, Jeff competed in the Adventure Race Regional Qualifier and finished third. He finished the race in under thirteen hours and his team qualified for the National Championship! Although he had to take a hiatus from his racing, he is happy to be back competing in adventure racing. “Dr. Hawkins and his staff were great, and I would recommend OAA to all of my friends and family,” Jeff shared.
While Dr. Hawkins and Jeff both hope they don’t meet again any time soon due to injury, Jeff has been added to Dr. Hawkins’ “wall” of success stories and patient action shots. 

Do you or a loved one have a similar story?  Share your story with us, and you could be next month's patient ambassador!