OAA Patient Ambassador: Meet Michael

March 01, 2016

Meet Michael – an active 13 year old athlete and honor roll student that enjoys playing football and track Michael with a footballcompetitively. In the future, Michael aspires to join the medical field, an interest that grew after having a complicated shoulder problem that required surgical intervention from Dr. Robert Palumbo of OAA’s Sports Medicine Institute.
Michael came to OAA with an unusual shoulder complication. His shoulder would dislocate several times a day – putting Michael in a painful situation each time. “I could barely lift my arm without it either popping or dislocating. I couldn’t throw, I couldn’t raise my right hand at school, and I couldn’t lift my books in class. It started to put limitations on my daily activities,” Michael recalled.
Michael’s mom, Tricia, knew Michael needed to be seen by an orthopaedic specialist and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Jill Crosson as soon as possible. After being under Dr. Crosson’s care for some time, and seeing no improvement with physical therapy, Dr. Crosson’s experience told her that it was time for Michael to see a surgeon, and referred Michael to Dr. Palumbo. Looking back, Michael’s mom stated, “We did not realize what a godsend Dr. Palumbo would be until he met Michael and began ruling things out. As test after test came back negative, the dislocations and pain got worse and the worrying turned greater. I knew only Dr. Palumbo would be able to fix Michael’s situation.”
Dr. Robert PalumboDr. Palumbo, an accomplished and nationally recognized sports medicine surgeon, specializes in sports-related injuries of the knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, and hip. When asked if Michael’s situation was a common, Dr. Palumbo responded with a resounding “no” and further elaborated that “Michael’s condition was even rarer given his age, and the fact that he had no memorable traumatic injury.” Dr. Palumbo had Michael go through a series of tests, and had him get an MRI. The MRI showed a loose capsule in Michael’s shoulder. Dr. Palumbo then sent Michael for more physical therapy, but Michael saw no improvement with his symptoms. At this time, Michael, his parents, and Dr. Palumbo decided that surgery, which was once the worst case scenario, was Michael’s only option. During an arthroscopic procedure, Dr. Palumbo performed a posterior labral capsular reconstruction – in other words, Dr. Palumbo hemmed the joint to make Michael’s joint capsule smaller and repaired Michael’s torn labrum.
Despite already being through a lot, Michael now had the long road to recovery ahead of him. When Michael looked back on his recovery after surgery, he recalled “it was tough, but Dr. Palumbo and my therapists helped me fight through to get a quick and healthy recovery. Dr. Palumbo helped me through everything and I wouldn’t choose any other doctor.” Dr. Palumbo knows that it is a two way street, and gave Michael a lot of credit – “Michael really wanted to get better and worked really hard to help himself get better.”
Michael went through a lot for an athlete his age, and sincerely missed his active lifestyle. To make matters Arthroscopic imageworse, he missed an entire season of football. As a former football player in his days at Cornell, Dr. Palumbo was able to relate well with Michael. When Michael was asked about his interactions with Dr. Palumbo, he shared, “To be honest, he was amazing! He answered all of my questions, he kept me positive, he was compassionate, and he was determined to find a resolution.” 
Like Michael, Dr. Palumbo had a significant orthopaedic injury when he was younger. Worried that he would never be able to play sports again, an orthopaedic surgeon told him that he would do all that he could to help Dr. Palumbo get back to football in two years. That doctor held up his end of the bargain and inspired Dr. Palumbo to be the doctor that he is today. “I have the best job in the world,” said Dr. Palumbo “I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do since I was 13.”
When asked about OAA as a whole, Michael stated, “I would recommend OAA to anyone if they are looking for a group of doctors that will be determined to find a way to heal an injury. I know that any patient that has received care at OAA would say the same thing.” Dr. Palumbo added, “OAA’s goal is to always be patient centric. We’ll fight for our patients. We fight administration, hospitals, the insurance companies – we WILL fight for our patients. This is one of the main reasons we remain independently owned.”
Dr. Palumbo is often reminded by patients like Michael just how much he loves his job and returning people back to their pre-injury lifestyles. Michael is back to being his active self and looks forward to being on the football field at Notre Dame High School this fall – “A big thank you to everyone who has helped me get myself back to being healthy again. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to have had such an amazing group of doctors and therapists to help me through the healing process. It was a long road to recovery and I am proud to be back to normal!”
Do you or a loved one have a similar story? Share your story with us, and you could be next month's patient ambassador!