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Overcoming a Snowboarding Mishap, Surgery, and Physical Therapy on the Road to Recovery

When Eli Patrick embarked on a memorable snowboarding trip with his dad and friend at Appalachian Ski Mountain, he had no idea that this trip would change the course of his year, leading him to a life-changing journey after a clavicle fracture.

The Snowboarding Mishap at Appalachian Ski Mountain

After a day full of snowboarding Eli and his friend decided to return to the slopes later that night. On his third run down the mountain, he maneuvered his board, hit a patch of ice, and tumbled, landing squarely on his shoulder. Eli immediately felt pain, and he knew something was wrong after feeling a bone protruding from his skin.

Eli's initial concerns were a mix of anxiety and determination. How would he explain the injury to his mom, who had cautioned against the trip? How severe was the damage, and how would he make it off the mountain? He was rescued from the mountain by a ski patrol sled and taken to first aid, where he awaited an ambulance. Later, he was transported to the closest hospital, where X-rays confirmed the severity of his broken collarbone.

The Road to Recovery with OrthoCarolina's Dr. Burbank

The recovery journey took an unexpected turn when his pain became unmanageable due to significantly displaced bone fragments and severe pain, which necessitated a hospital admission prior to emergency surgery. Eli eagerly looked forward to the surgery, hoping it would bring relief from the unbearable pain. Dr. Burbank, an OrthoCarolina sports medicine / joint replacement orthopedic surgeon, provided a detailed explanation of the procedure before and after the surgery to alleviate Eli's concerns. The surgery was successful, leaving Eli with an impressive collection of hardware - a plate and screws - that held his clavicle securely in place.

While Eli handled his pain very well, what proved to be the greatest challenge was the post-surgery boredom. Resting and being inactive didn't suit Eli and his active lifestyle. He was able to find comfort in some less adventurous outdoor activities, even if it meant driving a remote-controlled car in the driveway.

Growth in the Journey: Physical Therapy

Physical therapy played a pivotal role in Eli's journey to recovery. He attended sessions twice a week for around 4-5 weeks with Jeremy Phipps, focusing on strength and mobility training to regain full use of his shoulder. Eli's determination led him to push his limits, striving to return to his pre-injury active & adventurous lifestyle as soon as possible.

Eli's journey through the injury and recovery taught him many valuable lessons. He highlights the importance of not setting limits on oneself and not fearing re-injury, as the more you worry, the higher the chance of getting hurt.

His swift return to biking, climbing, backpacking, and camping, both indoors and outdoors, is a testament to his indomitable spirit, and the teamwork between Eli and his care team (OrthoCarolina's Dr. Burbank and Jeremy Phipps). Eli's story is one of hope, tenacity, and a fearless approach to recovery, collaboratively with his care team -- reminding us all to push the limits and never stop pursuing our passions.

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FREE After-Hours Orthopedic Assistance

For acute orthopedic injuries after scheduled clinic and urgent care hours, please utilize the HURT! App, in partnership with OrthoCarolina, for fast free access to orthopedic advice with a response time of ~4 minutes. Download here.