As a junior at the University of Delaware, Michael was captain of the school’s Division I ice hockey team. Midway through the season, during a January match against Rutgers University, he sustained a career-threatening injury.
“I got hit in my chest pretty hard, and my back hit the boards,” he recalls. Upon impact, Michael dislocated his sternoclavicular (SC) joint on his right side. This joint links the collarbone to the breastbone and is the only joint connecting the arm to the body. “Doctors said that my injury is usually seen in people who have been in car accidents,” Michael says.
Although doctors told Michael that he would never play hockey again, he did some research and found a video of Laith M. Jazrawi, MD, and Young W. Kwon, MD, PhD, performing the very procedure he needed: an SC joint reconstruction. Within two weeks, he had his first appointment with Dr. Jazrawi and Dr. Kwon at NYU Langone’s Sports Medicine Center and was scheduled for outpatient surgery shortly afterward.
“I thought I would never play ice hockey again, so it felt like a blessing to be able to play one more year as captain.”—Michael, Age 24
Dr. Jazrawi and Dr. Kwon rebuilt the ligaments that support the SC joint using Michael’s own body tissue. They then connected the collarbone to the breastbone with a tendon graft, stabilizing the SC joint.
Michael wore a sling for six weeks before starting exercises to strengthen his shoulder and arm and get his range of motion back. By June, approximately four months after surgery, Michael was free of pain. A month later, he was skating again and preparing for training camp for his senior-year season.
“I thought I would never play ice hockey again,” Michael says. “It felt like a blessing to be able to play one more year as captain.”