Andrew's Story

University Hospitals Sports Medicine Team Helps College Soccer Player Gets Back in the Game After ACL Injury

Andrew BucurWhen you have been playing a sport since the age of 3 like Lake Erie College soccer midfielder Andrew Bucur, it's all about passion for the game. But during a scrimmage at Case Western Reserve University in April 2014, all of those years on the field dissolved into one moment when the 19-year-old sophomore felt a pop in his right knee.

It was late in the game and Andrew jumped up to block a cross. When he landed, he planted on his right leg. The force of the landing combined with his body's movement to change direction was too much for his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) - it ruptured.

In excruciating pain, Andrew limped to the sideline himself, thinking that after a short rest he would be back on the field. After all, soccer had been an enormous part of his life since he was a toddler and getting back in the game was all he wanted to do.

Kevin Kamlowsky, an athletic trainer with Case Western Reserve University, was on-site and immediately took Andrew off the field in a cart and began performing tests to determine the extent of the injury. It was Kevin who contacted the office of Shana Miskovsky, MD, head team physician for Lake Erie College and member of University Hospitals Department of Orthopaedics. He made an appointment for Andrew at 8 a.m. the following day.

Diagnosis Determines Surgery is Necessary

Through a thorough examination, including X-rays, Dr. Miskovsky – who has an ABOS Subspecialty Certificate in Sports Medicine and is also an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine – determined that Andrew’s ACL was ruptured, his lateral meniscus was torn, and surgical intervention was needed. Andrew was devastated, although not surprised by the diagnosis. “My best friend tore his ACL playing soccer just two weeks before me,” said Andrew. “Because of my conversations with him about his injury, I pretty much knew that I had done the same thing.”

Andrew gave himself just three days to lament his injury; after that he determined that he wasn’t going to help himself get back on the field by sulking. He resolved then and there to keep a positive attitude throughout his treatment and recovery. “I knew that having a positive mindset would help me get better faster. I started educating myself on ACL injuries and their treatments.”

That education paid off for Andrew when Dr. Miskovsky presented two different options for his upcoming surgery – ACL reconstruction with bone-patellar autograft or hamstring autograft and repair of the meniscal tear versus clipping out the tear. The former would be a slower and a bit more painful recovery than the latter, but Andrew would have a stronger knee in the long run.

In consultation with Dr. Miskovsky and his parents, Andrew chose the bone-patellar autograft option and the arthroscopic surgery took place on May 8, 2014, at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

Recovery Continues with Physical Therapy

After two weeks of immobilization, Andrew was ready to start physical therapy. Over the next three months, he worked with physical therapist Elizabeth Rockwood at UH Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine office in Beachwood. “Beth was amazing,” said Andrew. “It felt like she wasn’t just doing her job; she was truly happy to see me get better every session. She made my goals her goals, too.”

His therapy continued when the school year began in August. He began working with Lake Erie College certified athletic trainer Jessica Schlafke, who also played a big part in Andrew’s recovery and guided him through a sports-specific exercise program designed to help him return to soccer.

Seven months after surgery, Dr. Miskovsky gave Andrew full clearance to play soccer again. He and his Lake Erie College teammates have their first scrimmage on April 12, which will be Andrew’s first full game post-surgery. He hopes to take his playing career as far as he can, and plans on coaching college soccer in the future. “I’m in a very confident state right now,” said Andrew. “I put my trust in Dr. Miskovsky and she came through; I would recommend her to anyone.”

For an appointment with Dr. Miskovsky, call 216-983-PLAY (7529). UH Outpatient Rehabilitation Services are conveniently located throughout Northeast Ohio. To connect with one of our locations near you, call 216-286-REHAB (7342).

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