By Sheila Dwyer, Knee1 Staff
For Eric Hamburger, full-time investment broker and part-time athlete, tearing his ACL should have meant taking a year off from sports to repair the ligament and rehabilitate his knee. However, due to poor ACL reconstruction surgery Hamburger was forced to spend an additional year off the soccer field. Only through his perseverance and the outstanding medical attention he received the second time around was he able to rehabilitate his knee and eventually return to athletics.
Three years ago, the thirtysomething Hamburger was playing goalie for his soccer team when a collision with a player from the other team snapped his ACL. Soccer is a sport that requires players to move in a “cutting” motion, one of the most common ways to tear the ACL. Hamburger figured he would not be setting foot onto a soccer field for at least a few months, if not a year.
A hospital in the Boston area brought him in for ACL reconstruction surgery but “the surgery was not up to snuff,” Hamburger recalls. The surgeon reconstructed his knee in such a way that his bone was acting like a guillotine on the ACL, so that virtually any athletic activity would cause the ACL to tear once again.
For a year after this first surgery, Hamburger worked hard to rehabilitate his knee. He started out slowly by riding a stationary bike, then moved to treadmill work and weight training. When he went to play in his first soccer game after the procedure and grueling rehabilitation, he tore his ACL again.
Frustrated, Hamburger consulted the New England Baptist Bone and Joint Institute in Boston. The medical team, which included Dr. Mark Steiner, immediately pinpointed the problem and determined they could correct it.
In February 2000, Hamburger underwent his second ACL reconstruction at New England Baptist Hospital. “I liked the people there. They were attentive, they communicated everything to me well.” Hamburger, by now familiar with the rehabilitation process, followed an exercise regimen for the next year to improve his knee. “I returned to a pretty normal lifestyle rapidly,” he says. “I tried to dedicate myself to working out my leg and getting it back in shape again.”
One year later, he returned to athletics. Now, “hockey is really my passion. Soccer, I retired from,” Hamburger laughs. Hockey requires less of a cutting motion by its players, which is easier on his ACL. He also plays forward now instead of goalie.
Hamburger is pleased with his progress. He is thinking about getting back into skiing next winter and wants to ask Dr. Steiner about getting a brace to stabilize his knee, just for psychological comfort when he is on the slopes.
Despite the fact that his knee is back in working order, Hamburger has a few words of caution for other ACL patients. “You don’t want to forget about that knee when you’re active. If you start favoring that leg, you have a high propensity of hurting your other knee.”
To learn more about the New England Baptist Bone and Joint Institute, visit their Web site.
Photo courtesy of New England Baptist Bone and Joint Institute.