Irene Gerland, a Garden City mother of two, ran nearly every day, "for my sanity," as she put it. But decades of wear led to a torn meniscus, one of the most common sports injuries. (Each knee has two menisci, tough cartilage that rests between the thigh and shin bones, and distributes weight across the knee joint.) Nicholas Sgaglione, MD, chair of orthopaedics for the North Shore-LIJ Health System, repaired her meniscus arthroscopically, removing the torn segment.
Nora Johnson, of Port Washington, is a more serious runner; she is training for her seventh marathon in Philadelphia in November. She, too, had a torn meniscus, which was repaired arthroscopically by Neil Watnik, MD, an attending orthopaedic surgeon at LIJ Medical Center. Dr. Watnik ran the race with Ms. Johnson.
Stephen Conte, of Long Beach, had an operation that was much more difficult to recover from: a revision of an earlier knee replacement. Giles Scuderi, MD, North Shore-LIJ's vice president of orthopaedic services at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, performed the latest surgery through Operation Walk USA, a program that arranges hip and knee surgeries for uninsured patients.
All three were among 250 runners participating in the first Orthopaedic Journey, a 5K/1K run/walk race held on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead. The race was sponsored by the North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute, which is dedicated to bringing patients all the way back to full, active living after treatment, including surgery, for bone and joint problems. The co-sponsor was the Greater Long Island Running Club.
"My surgery went very well," Ms.Gerland said, "and it was timed so I could go to STARS [North Shore-LIJ's Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services] as soon as I woke up from the anesthesia. I started rehab right away, learning how to use crutches, how to sit down, stand up, get in and out of bed. I think that was the key to my smooth recovery." Ms. Johnson said, "It's amazing, but here I am, training for another marathon.
Running in the race was a way to support my doctor and the Orthopaedic Institute, and to express my gratitude." Mr. Conte said, "My doctor was great, and so were the physical therapists at STARS. I feel as if I won the lottery."All three former patients finished the course, although Mr. Conte chose to walk rather than run. After the race, Dr. Sgaglione, who also ran, introduced Ms. Gerland, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Conte as proof that life goes on after knee surgery, and that with proper surgical and rehabilitative care, a full and complete recovery is possible. "Today, you can be as active as you want to be, well beyond middle age," Dr. Sgaglione said.
An Orthopaedic Journey for 2013 is already in the works.