Each year, several million Americans injure the cartilage in their knees, shoulders, and other joints. Many of these injuries occur in patients who are too young to undergo artificial joint replacement surgery. The Cartilage Restoration Center offers innovative treatment options that allow patients to return to high-level activity without undergoing total joint replacement.
Read what some of our patients are saying about their experiences with Dr. Cole, his staff, and the CRC.
Posted on October 2017
I was beginning my college baseball career with patellar tendonitis in my left knee. I had been dealing with sharp, throbbing, and aching pain that affected my sport and everyday life. I elected to have surgery during the summer of 2014. Throughout my recovery, I continued to feel the constant, sharp pain in my knee and knew that my tendonitis had not been alleviated. I couldn’t even walk without pain. At this point, I wasn’t even worried about playing baseball. I just wanted to walk pain free. A friend told me about Dr. Cole and his history of working on professional athletes. I thought my last chance to cure the chronic tendonitis was to schedule a surgery with Dr. Cole. In January 2015, Dr. Cole performed left patellar tendon debridement on my knee. I faced a long road to recovery. After a year of intensive therapy, I was significantly better. The surgery was successful. The surgery that Dr. Cole performed on my knee enabled me to not only walk, but also to run pain free. I was again playing college baseball, and this time, without chronic pain. I had a very successful college career, and as a result I was selected in the MLB draft of 2017. Dr. Cole gave me a second shot at my dream of playing in the MLB. Thank you Dr. Cole!
– Michael Danielak
Posted on August 2017
What do you take away from last year where the team didn’t fare too well and you missed most of it with an injury?
I think if we forget about it, it’s not a useful season. Obviously things did not go well. You can either look back on it and be super upset or look back on it and grow. I think the seniors last year would want us to look back on it and grow, and I think that’s what we’re going to do. We felt the defeat. We felt being where we were, and we never want to be there again. We have 10 new freshmen coming in — a completely new identity — and I think that’s something the people that were here get to carry the hurt we felt and know we’re never going to be in that spot again. The freshmen are new eyes. They haven’t felt that and just want to win.
– Sarah Warren
Posted on April 2017
FROM HUNTER HALL
Before tearing my ACL for the first time when I was 10, I was a multi-sport athlete competing as a right wing in hockey and a forward in soccer. It was a long time ago, so I’m not sure how true this was, but my parents told me I used to be the fastest kid on the ice and on the field. I was (and still am) small for my age, but I had speed and agility on my side.
I then tore my first ACL in my right leg when I was 10 by jumping off of a swing set at school and landing on my knee wrong. I had a relatively new type of surgery for pediatric ACL tears in Boston a few months later, followed by 6-9 months of physical therapy. After about 12 months of being out of sports, I slowly got back into hockey and soccer. Just as I was getting my speed back again, my right ACL tore again (along with the right meniscus which resulted in a bucket meniscus) after taking a misstep trying to catch a basketball in a friend’s driveway.
That’s when I went to Dr. Cole for help. After a few weeks of planning, I was back on the operating table, but this time in Chicago. The second surgery went well and I underwent physical therapy again for about 6 months before returning to some sports. While I could still play soccer and hockey, I had been out of the sports for long enough to the point where I was pretty far behind my peers in skill level. I decided to try out new sports like cross country and cycling, and eventually rowing in high school.
I joined the New Trier rowing team as a coxswain during my freshman fall. I immediately fell in love with the sport and pursued it for all four years at New Trier, going on to cox the Varsity 8+ boat that won the Scholastic National Championships in spring of 2016 (pictured below).
I was then recruited to cox at the University of California, Berkeley for my fours years at college and I am now a freshman here at Cal. We’re now in the thick of our racing season here on the west coast and we’re excited to see what we can accomplish this year after Cal took home the IRA National Championship title last year. I’m very excited to continue coxing here and for getting the opportunity to become a D1 athlete after my injuries, thanks to Dr. Cole.
Pictured above: The New Trier Varsity 8+ crossing the finish line at Scholastic Nationals winning gold (2016).
Pictured above: The Cal Freshman 8+ on the podium after we won gold in the Open 8+ event at the San Diego Crew Classic (2017).
Posted on April 2017
After I tore my Ulnar Collateral Ligament (“UCL”) in the second start of my junior season, I felt a sharp pain every time I tried to straighten my elbow. I was never able to get it fully straight. With the UCL torn, it only hurt to throw a baseball and nothing else. I could shoot hoops, lift weights, catch a football, and even swim. However, I knew something was wrong when I could not throw a baseball past 30 feet without that sharp pain returning to my elbow.
About a month later, after an attempted rehab, I got in touch with Dr. Cole about potentially undergoing Tommy John Surgery. After the initial visit, it was evident with his credentials that if I wanted to keep playing baseball, this would be the best place to go. So, on April 28, 2016 Dr. Cole performed the Tommy John surgery on my arm.
On February 25, 2017, just less than 10 months post-surgery, I was back on the mound playing college baseball and made my first start. I am now exactly 11 months post-surgery and have made 4 starts, tallying 24 total innings. Each start I have reached somewhere between 70-90 pitches with no discomfort mid-game.
Thank you Dr. Cole for essentially repairing my arm and allowing me to continue to play the game of baseball. I highly recommend Dr. Cole to any athlete who needs this repair and give him the opportunity as he has done for many others.
Posted on November 2016
My left knee had been through a lot…meniscus & MCL damage, an ACL repair, torn cartilage and a Microfracture. Needless to say, it was recommended to me that I should hang up my soccer boots AND running shoes at the age of 30. A lifetime of playing competitive soccer and running two marathons had finally caught up to me. Walking hurt, running was unbearable, there was no way I would be able to keep my active lifestyle. That is when I was referred to Dr. Brian Cole. He wanted to perform a Medial Femoral Condyle Osteochondral Allograft Transplant. Being too young for a knee transplant, this was my best option. The rehab would be a long road, but once all was said and done I should be able to go back to my active lifestyle! So I decided to have the surgery. The staff was absolutely amazing! They called to check in on me a few times post-surgery. Any question I had, they responded within a few hours. Just amazing. They were very encouraging, throughout the first year of my recovery I was still a little discouraged. I was still experiencing some pain once I was released to full activity and was not confident yet. After speaking with Dr. Cole, he was extremely comforting. My range of mothing was great, strength was coming back, no swelling at all. Walked me through the process again and helped me regain hope that I would be back to my athletic self. I was just in for my two-year checkup and am proud to say that I am out running again, playing sand volleyball and successfully competing in CrossFit. 1000% happy with the outcome. Thank you Dr. Cole for bringing me back!
– Melissa M
Posted on September 2016
On behalf of Celiana Torres would like give a huge thanks to Dr. Cole and Staff throughout the entire process. After surgery things were not easy. It was not only the discomfort from surgery, but emotionally Celiana would cry by just thinking that she might not be able to play and perform as she did before the injury. Celiana said after seeing Dr. Cole on each appointment that he would “say something positive and motivate her more” which made her feel confident that she would return to high level soccer once again. Throughout the whole process she mentioned that with the support from Dr. Cole, his staff and the therapists, a negative was turned into a positive!. At her soccer club, a similar situation happened to a team mate. The coach asked me if it was ok for the parent to call me to ask me a couple of questions in regards to Celiana’s surgery. They were amazed of the recovery and performance on Celiana’s surgery and immediately called and set up an appointment. In the end, we were excited to hear that Celiana was selected to participate the World Cup in Jordan this coming Sept. 30th representing Mexico’s U17. Our friend has created a fund me account to see if my husband and I can travel to Jordan and be able to live this dream and accomplishment with Celiana and show her some support when she is on the field.
Posted on January 2015
Jake Lafrenz is a 17-year-old senior from Elgin, IL and a star athlete on the St. Edwards Central High School baseball team. Not long ago, with an 88 mph fastball and a pitching spot on the National Baseball Team, Jake’s baseball career seemed to be heading for the big leagues.
That is, until an elbow injury took Jake off the field for a national showcase and during the key season for college recruiting. It put his plan to play college baseball in jeopardy.
His injury occurred on June 1 of this year, during his junior season, which was also his birthday. He was pitching in a showcase and tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left elbow. He recalls hearing a ‘pop’ during his pitch and remembers vividly the constant pain in his elbow in the days following the injury.
Jake went to see Dr. Brian Cole of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, who recommended that he undergo Tommy John surgery to replace the torn elbow ligament and get back in the game. Technically called UCL reconstruction, Tommy John surgery is a procedure in which the UCL is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. It is named after former major league pitcher Tommy John.
Jake had previously seen Dr. Cole for a knee injury he suffered in a car accident, so Jake and his parents felt they were in good hands. They were also confident because Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls had also trusted Dr. Cole to get him back in the game. Jake explains that having Dr. Cole perform his surgery was also reassuring to college scouts, who are often unwilling to take a gamble on players who may not fully recover from their injuries.
Jake received the best treatment available, including a physical therapist Dr. Cole recommended. Together, they kept Jake’s recovery consistently ahead of schedule. Getting back to the mound this spring during his senior season may be tough for Jake, but he will definitely play first base and is expected to be able to pitch again by the summer.
That is excellent news because he recently committed to play baseball at Coastal Carolina University. Both Jake and Dr. Cole are confident that he will soon be playing better than ever. Jake’s goal is to be drafted by a pro team post-college and he has already drawn attention from pro scouts!
His friends at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush can’t wait to see Jake’s fastball in the major leagues!
– Jake Lafrenz
Posted on June 2016
I first met one of Dr. Cole’s PA’s back in 2013 and I still remember the hope he gave me the first time we talked. After already having 4 knee surgeries (including an ACL and Microfracture on my right knee) I had given up hope that I would ever stand or walk, let alone run without pain again.
After playing collegiate basketball for six years, I thought my future was taken from me. I would never be able to do the simple things without pain like walking up or down stairs, standing through the national anthem, doing the dishes, grocery shopping, standing up from a dinner table or any sort of working out. Being a lifelong athlete this was extremely depressing and extremely difficult to acknowledge. Therefore, I told my family and friends that I would be first in line for a full knee replacement as soon as I could find a doctor that would perform it on a 24-yr old. Having a fake knee would be less painful than mine without a doubt.
This is why meeting with Dr. Cole brought me to tears with the future he claimed he could give me. He was confident that not only could I perform those daily tasks but also live an active life for at least the next 10-15 years. Going to Dr. Cole was such an easy decision with the promises he was able to keep.
The process began on March 10, 2015 when he performed an Osteochondral Allograft Transplant (cartilage transplant) on my right knee. After a long year of rehab and traveling back to Chicago for follow up appointments, I’m EXTREMELY happy to say that I can now do things that I haven’t been able to do in ten years. I could not be more pleased with the results at just one year after surgery. I’ve been able to slowly return to an active lifestyle, including working out every morning and playing on multiple city league sports teams.
The absolute best result I’ve seen thus far comes from a simple conversation with my fiancé about nine months after surgery, asking if we needed to go home during a grocery shopping trip. It wasn’t until that moment that I had realized how much walking we had done in that day and that prior to surgery, I would have needed to ice and elevate for the remainder of the night when in fact I HAD NO PAIN! My quality of life has increased tremendously and I owe it all to Dr. Cole and his staff for giving me back my future.
– Sara Pawlaczyk
Posted on June 2016
Dr. Cole performed my ACL surgery and after 6 months, I was back wrestling on the mat placing 3rd at the prestigious Grappler Fall Classic in Michigan and Runnerup at the USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals. The season starts in a couple of weeks, I feel ready to go and strong as ever! ~Jake Tucker, Chicago Mount Carmel High School
– Jake Tucker
Posted on June 2016
I came to Dr. Cole feeling desperate, as all the doctors in my area had given up and told me that they could not help my knees and the one doctor who referred me to Dr. Cole stated I needed some very major surgeries that he was not comfortable doing. Dr. Cole knew right away that I did not need these major surgeries, that he could help me out with an MPFL repair and arthroscopic debridement. Surgeries on both knees went very smooth. Dr. Cole and his team were so amazing, and everything went so well, that a few months later I had him evaluate my shoulder too. This was another problem that I have had, that no doctors in my area seemed to be able to help with and it didn’t take Dr. Cole long to know how to help. I had a capsular plication of the left shoulder and I am very grateful that I decided to do it.
Now I am able to run, climb stairs, play golf again, swim laps and do everything I used to be able to do as a teen. I could not be more grateful for Dr. Cole and his team. His PA’s have also changed the path that I am on in school, I have decided that instead of going to medical school to be an MD, I am now planning to attend PA school, as I would like to be able to play such an integral role in patient care as the PA’s at MOR do.
– Anne Petersen
Posted on June 2016
My husband required a reverse shoulder replacement. We had researched many doctors and had five doctor appointments prior to seeing Dr. Cole. He was the only one that was very confident and had the expertise to perform this type of surgery. The outcome of this surgery was excellent, exceeding our expectations. We are very happy with the results of this awesome orthopedic surgeon. I would recommend him to anyone in need of an orthopedic surgeon.
Posted on June 2016
For 3 years, I lived with constant knee pain due to bad genetics and injury. The pain interfered with daily activities, exercise, and family fun. Dr. Cole changed all that. He gave me back an active life. I can now play soccer or bicycle with my kids, take spin classes, hike, and do Pilates or Yoga. Dr. Cole and his staff exceeded my expectations. They were kind, knowledgeable, and dedicated to helping me. I will always be grateful for Dr. Cole’s skill and dedication.
– Shelby Koester
Posted on June 2016
While training for my second marathon in the spring of 2013, I injured my IT Band. It became so tight that it caused severe pain by my right knee. I ran through the pain because I was determined to finish the marathon, but it only made my knee pain worse. It hurt to run, walk, and even stand. My doctors in Michigan were worried about the severity of my pain in my knee so they sent me to Dr. Cole in Chicago because they said he was the best! I drove an hour and a half to have Dr. Cole look at my knee, and he spent a very long time with me listening to my concerns. He set me up with physical therapy to help strengthen and stretch my IT Band. I went through a year of physical therapy and Dr. Cole’s assistant, Kyle Pilz, emailed me on a regular basis to see how I was improving. After a year of only small improvements, Dr. Cole decided to remove part of my IT Band by the lateral part of my knee in December 2015. The day after surgery, Dr. Cole called to see how I was feeling. The week I was home recovering from surgery, both Dr. Cole and Kyle Pilz made contact with me to see how my knee was progressing. I continued physical therapy for another three months after surgery, and by the summer of 2015 I was able to start running short distances again. Once January 2016 came around I decided my knee was strong enough to train for a half marathon in June 2016. I had no pain in my knee while training for this race, and I felt ready to run my first race since 2013! This weekend, June 4th, 2016, I finished the Sunburst Half Marathon in South Bend, IN! It was the best race I’ve ever had, and I had zero pain. I am so thankful that I was sent to Dr. Cole and Kyle Pilz because they not only helped me recover physically, but they also helped me mentally. I was very lucky to be sent to the best doctors, and I am forever grateful for their help in getting me back to something I love to do!
– Shelly Bender
Posted on May 2016
The road back has been a long one for Barrington shortstop Liz Sweeney, who tore her ACL midway through last season and had to watch from the sidelines as the Fillies finished fourth in the state.
“I had surgery a year ago,” Sweeney said. “I came back the first game this year ready to go.”
And what a triumphant return it has been. The senior and third-year varsity player leads the team with six home runs and 36 RBIs while boasting a .373 batting average.
“I’m so happy that she’s had such a great year after what happened last year,” senior second baseman Kelly Katis said. “She came back with the attitude that she was going to go big her senior year.”
– Sean Sweeney
Posted on May 2016
After missing nearly the entire second half of last season due to knee surgery, Barrington senior shortstop Liz Sweeney has made a terrific comeback on the softball diamond this spring.
On Tuesday, she led the Fillies’ comeback in the fifth inning.
Sweeney blasted a one-out, 2-run homer over the right-center field fence to tie the game at 8-8 and spark a 4-run rally which gave the Fillies a 10-8 triumph over visiting Fremd in a match between Mid-Suburban West powers.
The game had been suspended due to rain at the Fields of Dreams on Saturday with Fremd leading 8-6.
But sophomore Catherine McMahon (15-3) did not allow a run in Tuesday’s four innings and got all the support she needed in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Catcher Abbey Jacobsen and third baseman Kendall Peterson followed Sweeney’s big blast with singles to right and center field, respectively.
Carly Kordich then reached on an infield error which allowed Jacobsen to score and Peterson went to third base.
Kelly Katis’ RBI groundout to short brought home Peterson to make it 10-8.
Fremd threatened in the top of the seventh when center fielder Alyssa Garcia and first baseman Julia Wacker began the inning with single to left field.
A bloop single to right by Jessica Mazur loaded the bases before Sweeney let her glove do the work this time.
She fielded a grounder and threw home to Jacobsen for the force and second out.
McMahon then got a popout to Katis at second base giving the Fillies (20-4, 8-2) their 24th straight season with 20 or more wins under hall of fame coach Perry Peterson.
“After the battles Liz has overcome with her ACL tear, I am so happy for her,” Peterson said of the senior who went 2-for-2 in the game with 3 RBI and a walk. “She deserves this.”
Sweeney’s clutch homer came one day after she belted a grand slam in the first inning against Buffalo Grove.
“In that game on Monday (vs. BG), I went in thinking how I hadn’t hit a home run all season after having five before getting hurt last season (at Washington Invite),” Sweeney said. “I kept saying to myself ‘it will come, it will come.’ So I came to the park in a good mindset. And sure enough, I hit one in the first inning.”
Sweeney said it was tough sitting on the sidelines for the end of last season.
“I remember even coming back to watch my first game first game (in a wheelchair behind the backstop) and it was so hard,” she said. “It’s so nice to be able to back for my senior year and I want to go out with a bang.”
Kordich was the other Fillies with 2 hits in the game, going 2-for-2 with a double.
Fremd (16-4, 7-2) had 5 hits in Thursday’s four innings. For the game, junior Ann Marie O’Sullivan (2 RBI) and Garcia each went 3-for-5 with while Mazur (2-for-2) and Lexi D’Ambrosio (2-for-4) were other multiple hitters.
“Offensively, I was real pleased,” said Fremd coach Jim Weaver. “We had four line outs in three innings.
“Give Barrington credit. They played defense. But offensively, I was real happy with our at bats. But we have to get better on the other side of the ball.”
– Liz Sweeney
Posted on April 2016
My name is Mark Wilson, and I have been a professional golfer on the PGA TOUR for 14 years. I felt pain in my right knee in April 2015 after doing 40 yard dashes (bad idea at 41 years of age!) and then it worsened after a long session of full court basketball in late November. Golf swings hurt enough where I wouldn’t have played a tournament at that time (thankfully it was the off season). It was time for an MRI and it revealed a small meniscus tear. Two well respected doctors examined me and said surgery is the only option to get rid of the pain. Dr. Brian Cole had a different approach of giving me a cortisone shot in my knee. He wanted to treat the symptom, not the MRI picture. If I didn’t respond to the cortisone shot in the following ten days, then surgery would make sense, but he certainly hoped to help me avoid surgery. Well, twelve hours after the shot, the pain went down to almost nothing. I didn’t feel any pain as I returned to the golf course in 2016 without missing a tournament. I am now 100 days removed from the shot and my right leg feels great. I haven’t felt any pain or weakness since the shot. I strongly urge anyone that has been told that surgery is the only option for a meniscus tear to hear what Dr. Cole has to say about this less invasive treatment. Thanks to Dr. Cole, I could get back to competition without the risks and down-time associated with surgery.
– Mark Wilson
Posted on March 2016
Hello, my name is Nate Edgington. In 2006 Dr. Cole performed an ACI – AMZ procedure on my right knee. Working for an orthopaedic company in Indiana gave me the luxury of knowing who some of the best surgeons were in the country, which I was why I selected Dr. Cole. From a surgical perspective, the procedure went very well; but, for me personally the outcome was initially more challenging than I had hoped. For approximately 8 years I stopped running because the knee was painful when I tried to run. However, it’s only been in the last few years I’ve realized how much more control I have over my outcome, pain, and what I am able to do.
In the last two years I’ve made some pretty dramatic lifestyle changes. I began seeing a trainer and educating myself on what I could do improve my situation. This included changing my diet to include more natural foods and low inflammation foods, stretching, Icing/Elevating/& Compressing post workout, strengthening the muscles around the joint, changing my running form, and educating myself on others ways I could get better.
This transformation has led to me completing two half ironman events (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) over the last two years, something I never thought I would do. I’m very thankful for Dr. Cole and his surgical team for providing me the outcomes they did. I just wish I would have spent more time initially listening and educating myself on how I could get better earlier.
– Nate Edgington
Posted on March 2016
Dear Dr. Cole & Staff:
I wanted to extend a heartfelt thank you for your fantastic care of my son. From beginning to end, (i.e. appointments, personal follow-ups – via telephone, preoperative expectations, surgery, and aftercare) you and you staff made it a seamless and pleasant process, despite the injury. Your quality and integrity as a surgeon and, more fundamentally, as a person, made the entire ordeal satisfying.
You have a special gift as a surgeon and as a person. Thank you for giving my son his life back – BASKETBALL!!! Despite the odds and negative probability of recovering from an ACL & Meniscus tear, you made it possible for him to play his last year of high school and even secure multiple scholarship offers.
We cannot thank you enough for the excellent care you provided. I am beyond grateful for each of you.
(Screaming from the stands) >>>> THANK YOU….THANK YOU….THANK YOU!!!!!!
Date of Injury: 02/2015
Date of Surgery: 05/2015
Date of Release: 11/2015
Posted on January 2016
After suffering an ACL tear my freshman year of high school, I thought my sports career would never be the same. I was cleared to return to return to sports just 5 months later and was on the ultimate sports high, until I suffered another instability event and my knee pain returned. MRI’s, X-rays and another diagnostic arthroscopy by the original surgeon showed no structural damage, but I knew something was just not right. After my first appointment with Dr. Cole, I knew I was in good hands. He was caring, compassionate, and he listened to me. He was an expert in evaluating a multiply operated 3 sport-adolescent athlete whose main goal was to return for her senior year of sports. Dr. Cole made the diagnosis, repaired my medial meniscal tear, and his incredible work and recovery path allowed me to return as varsity volleyball, basketball, and soccer captain and ultimately win #1 in conference. Now, I am able to do any activity without second-guessing if my knee can handle it. Thanks to Dr. Cole my knee finally feels like my old, pre-injury knee. Not only is he a superb surgeon, I consider him my friend.
Posted on December 2015
At was 35 years old, I was of normal weight yet could no longer climb a flight of stairs without a lot of pain, nor could I even walk a mile for light exercise with my family. Having Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, it has been difficult to find a doctor to listen, identify a problem and help. After countless years and doctors, Dr. Cole was the first doctor who had ever said he could help me with my knee and shoulder pain. I was referred to him by a doctor who thought I needed a very major surgery on my legs yet was uncomfortable doing it on me. Dr. Cole knew right away that this surgery wasn’t an answer to my problems, and instead he did bilateral MPFL reconstructions and plications. After recovery I could once run again, climb stairs, crawl on my knees and keep up with my husband and kids, just like someone in their mid 30s should be able to do. I am now 15 months post knee surgery and doing wonderful. A few months after my knee surgery, I asked Dr. Cole to look at my chronically painful shoulder. I was living with a kinesiso taped shoulder on a daily basis, which had been going on for a few years. Dr. Cole knew right away how he could help. He did a capsular plication of my left shoulder and I have been pain free for one year. There is no way I would ever let anyone work on my shoulders or knees other than Dr. Cole. He and his staff are amazing in every way, everything from professionalism, knowledge & intelligence to the ability to listen, be empathetic and most of all do great work!
– Anne Petersen
Posted on December 2015
On my first day back to football practice after our summer break, I broke my collarbone clean through and was en route to the hospital when a thought hit me; I am going to miss my junior year of football, right after missing my whole sophomore year due to multiple vertebrae fractures. At that moment, I was guilt stricken. All the hard work I put in over the summer, wasted on a most likely season ending injury. I didn’t know what to expect when I came to Rush, but I was very certain I would be missing the remainder of my season, once again. I went to see Dr Brian Cole. I left with surprisingly positive news; that by getting surgery; I could be back to participating in practices by week seven, and playing by week ten.
Dr Cole performed an open reduction and internal fixation of my clavicle. Surgery came and went. Dr. Cole was right; I felt very little, to no pain, in my arm. I had regained my confidence due to the news that I was healing at an exceptional rate. Being back in practice, I was overjoyed to be back on the field with my teammates and playing the sport that I love. Eventually, we went on to win our class 7A State Championship, which I got to suit up for and experience that atmosphere and triumph that comes with winning a state title. I can now say that I am forever grateful to have worked with Dr. Cole and his team to help me experience and participate in such a memorable season.
– Aaron Kemp
Posted on September 2015
Surgeons and clinicians truly are our partners in ensuring donated tissue is able to help patients heal. Our commitment to maximizing the possibilities of tissue is echoed in their tireless work to help recipients get back to an active lifestyle. We have had a long relationship with a surgical resident who has a unique perspective on allograft use because of her firsthand experience with donated tissue.
Rachel was a soccer player at the University of Illinois (my alma mater) when she began to experience knee pain. After several arthroscopic procedures, she met with Dr. Brian Cole at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Cole told Rachel she was a candidate for a meniscus transplant. Because donor meniscus tissue is matched based on the size of the recipient, Rachel was placed on a waiting list. Though she always had an interest in the medical field, being a patient sparked her passion even more. Three weeks before beginning medical school, Rachel got her match, her surgery and her return to an active lifestyle.
– Tom Cycyota
AlloSource President & CEO
Posted on May 3rd. 2015
Dr. Cole and his staff are the benchmark for professionalism, talent, and attention to the patient. I’m a Medicare patient so my expectations were rather low. My case and the associated MRI and orthograph was reviewed by “Chuck” one of Cole’s PA’s. His diagnosis and explanation of my rotator cuff injuries were “spot on”. Dr. Cole then explained the extent of my injury and recommended surgery. The outpatient procedure was “in by 7:00, out by noon”! The anesthesiologist Dr. Patterson recommended a straight forward pain medication process that worked perfectly, and I experienced absolutely no pain. The recommendation for the constricting jacket with the chilled water was a comfort for the first 10 days. After four weeks, I met with Kyle, another of Dr. Cole’s PA’s, and he checked me out and noted that the progress and motion were coming along well. Dr. Cole came in as well, and recommended that the therapy be viewed as a Marathon and not a race. I had my last visit this last week. and once again, Kyle, Chuck, and Dr. Cole confirmed that I was ready to start strengthening at my own pace, and that the result was what they had hoped for in terms of motion and strength to this point. The big surprise is that through it all, there has been nearly NO PAIN. No, this “ain’t me first Rodeo”. I have been through orthopedic surgeries before as a result of sports activities. I have to say that the discomfort, recovery, and therapy have been much easier, and pain-free than I could ever have imagined. My shoulder was a mess from previous injuries and a bad bicycle accident when I went in to see Dr. Cole. In my opinion, the results are near miraculous, and Dr. Cole and his staff are “HEROES” in my book! Thanks for a great job Doc !
– Robert J. Weskamp
Posted on April 21. 2015
Hey Dr Cole
My name is Steve Troglio, you worked on my shoulder 4 years ago. At the time you did a procedure to give me time before needing a replacement from all the years of being a athlete and doing construction work. At the time my biggest concern was being able to continue to build mission churches in Mexico and other countries of great need. 2 Years after the surgery I was part of building a church in Mexico. Next month I will be going to build another. I could not be able to continue to do what I am doing without the work that you did on me. I am thankful for your God given skills and for your dedication for the well being of those you treat. So on behalf of a small congregation in a remote part of Mexico I want to thank you in advance for being a part of the building of their new church! On a side note-I’m back benching in the high 300’s the shoulder is getting stronger just a little “noisy” (probably not the best thing to tell you-lol)
Again thanks & God bless
– Rev Steven Troglio
Posted on April 6. 2015
My husband and I are in our mid-forties, and for our 18th wedding anniversary decided to go skiing. To make a long story short, I fell down and had surgery with a local orthopedic doctor in February 2014. My initial surgeon performed a rotator cuff repair and removed bone spurs.
I had intense physical therapy for three months after surgery. Due to a frozen shoulder, I needed a manipulation in May 2014. I continued with physical therapy for another six months. However, I continued to experience pain and had difficulty sleeping when I laid on my operated shoulder and when I exercised. Truthfully, I was not satisfied with the care I was receiving nor the customer service from my surgeon.
After talking to my sister-in-law, she scheduled an appointment for me to see Dr. Cole of Midwest Orthopedics at RUSH in Chicago. Dr. Cole recommended another surgery. Dr. Cole and his team made sure I had an integrated treatment and even invited my physical therapist to the surgery. One of his team members called me for three days at home to check on my status post-operatively. Unlike my initial surgery, I experienced no vomiting or nausea after surgery. The quality before and after surgery was like night and day – kudos to Dr. Cole. Also, Dr. Cole’s team managed the level of pain I was experiencing more effectively and listened to my concerns. More importantly, Dr. Cole’s surgery, after intense physical therapy, gave me significantly better range of motion.
After four months post-surgery and therapy, I am able to attend my fitness classes, such as cxworks, bootcamp, bodypump, and running. I feel stronger, confident, and I feel good. I am very grateful to Dr. Cole and his team. Dr. Cole is the MAN!
In May of 2010, at the age of 39, I had my third knee surgery, the DeNovo NT procedure performed by Dr. Cole and his team, which was a cartilage transplant from a donor. I decided to have the surgery because after two prior surgeries (micro-fracture and a clean-up of scar tissue), I was still not able to reclaim the active life I had had before my initial knee surgery in 2007. Dr. Cole’s whole focus is helping to keep a person active which is exactly what I was looking for. Prior to my initial surgery, I was quite active running, hiking and biking. The relief from my first two surgeries was an improvement but it did not last and therefore, I was never able to truly resume a fully active life without restrictions.
I am now almost five years out from my surgery with Dr. Cole and I can honestly say that I am fully back to an active lifestyle including running (two half marathons this past year), long distance biking, skiing and most recently, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet). While the climb was challenging, it was the altitude and the terrain rather than my knee that were most challenging. During the nine days of climbing and most importantly, the summit day which consisted of ten hours climbing up and two and a half hours hiking down, my knee held up amazingly well even in muddy and slippery conditions.
I had gotten used to a certain amount of knee pain on a regular basis prior to the DeNovo surgery, but no longer feel that type of pain on a daily basis. More importantly, I have no restrictions on my activity after this surgery. I am sure that I will have some knee issues in the future as I continue to age but this surgery allows me to engage and participate in the activities I enjoy without concern for the impact on my knee or potential limitations. In my mind, this is well worth the time for the surgery and recuperation. I would recommend this procedure to any person looking to continue to live an active life!
When I met Dr. Cole, I was desperately looking for a solution for the pain in my knee. I was a former four-sport athlete in high school and played college basketball at BYU. My junior year, my team played Tennessee in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. At the time, I had no idea it would be the last basketball game I ever played. After my fourth knee surgery and weeks of physical therapy, doctors told me I had severe arthritis and would not be able to play my senior season. I was 20 years old.
I spent my twenties trying to repair the damage I’d done. Everything I did was low impact; biking, walking, swimming, etc. But as much as I tried to protect my knee it still hurt. A year after my seventh knee surgery, I was in so much pain it was difficult to perform daily tasks like stairs or carrying my baby. I was so frustrated that I decided I wanted a knee replacement. My surgeon told me that at 31 years old he couldn’t recommend a replacement. He had read about meniscal transplants and osteochondral allografts and he thought that might be a solution for me. He referred me to Dr. Cole.
Going to Dr. Cole was the best decision I could have made. The process was difficult. The travel, surgeries, recovery and rehab were extremely challenging. But the results have been more than I ever expected. I am one year post-op and my knee feels better than it’s felt since I was 19 years old. I am able to work out at a high level including jumping, squatting, and lateral movement- all which were impossible before surgery. But the most significant change has been the improvement that has come to my daily life. I’ll be doing things like pushing a shopping cart, walking up stairs, getting in or out of cars and realize, “THIS DOESN’T HURT!”
I’m so excited that I can do things like pushing myself in workouts, water skiing, hiking, dancing, chasing my girls and giving them piggy back rides. It’s these small things that make my life full and bring me so much joy. The constant pain is gone and I know that every hard thing I did to get to this point has been worth it. I’m so grateful to Dr. Cole and his team for the new life I’ve been given.
Bowling: Old ball still has some magic for Robert Szajkovics
A couple of weeks back, Robert Szajkovics was at wits end, averaging more than 10 pins below last season’s 224 in his Sunday morning men’s league at Orland Bowl.
It might have been a nice time to buy himself a Christmas present.
Instead, he had a hunch.
“I went in the garage and found an old ball,” Szajkovics said. “I always used to like it and I thought, ‘Maybe it has a few good games left in it.'”
He took the ball, an 8-year-old Track Equation, to teammate Fred Rozak. Rozak, who is a part-owner of Bowler’s Alley Pro Shop at Orland Bowl, redrilled it.
What happened after that is a tale that Szajkovics will tell over many a holiday season.
The 55-year-old Homer Glen resident had a career day Dec. 28, shooting games of 254, 300 and 299 for an 853 series.
The perfect game was his 15th, the series smashing his previous high of 794.
“It was like an out-of-body experience,” Szajkovics said. I was like, ‘What is going on? Who is this guy?’ Before that I’d had one legitimate shot at an 800 in the 40 years I’ve bowled.
“For some reason, that morning everything was carrying. After a while nobody would talk to me. I tried to remain calm and tell myself, ‘Don’t blow it.’ “
It started inauspiciously, shortly after Szajkovics arrived at the lanes early to pick up the ball.
“I threw a few practice shots and I was sticking on the thumb,” he said. “So Fred ran back into the pro shop and opened up the thumb hole.
“Then, on my first ball, I threw a 7-10 rail in the pocket and I was like, ‘Oh, great. It’s going to be one of those days.'”
Szajkovics went on to 40 pins over average in the first game, then embarked on a prolific string of 23 strikes that didn’t end until his final shot — a ball that was buried in the pocket and left a 9-pin. He finished with 31 strikes in 36 chances.
“All but one of the strikes were in the pocket. I had one really ugly one that I don’t want to talk about,” he said, laughing. “It was lucky.”
Szajkovics began bowling at age 15. He didn’t make the cut when he tried out for the team at St. Laurence.
“I wasn’t good enough back then,” he said. “I was just learning the game. My parents were bowlers and they used to drag me to the bowling center as a kid. I grew up around it so I got interested in it.
“I was in mixed leagues for many years with my wife (Sharon) before I got serious in men’s leagues when I was about 30.”
Szajkovics tossed his first perfect game in 1989. He has also made the 300 honor roll at Clearing, Lisle Lanes, Fox Bowl, Pioneer Lanes, and Joliet Town and Country Lanes.
“That’s one thing I’m really proud of,” he said. “I don’t want to be considered a one-house bowler. I’ve seen guys who are really considered good and they bowl five nights a week at the same house. I’ve never wanted to be like them. I like to get around.”
Szajkovics is a bowling survivor, especially in the recent past.
Five years ago he underwent back surgery, and nearly two years ago he had right arm and shoulder surgery. He has been bowling with a torn meniscus in his left knee and will have surgery in February.
“I’ve been dealing with it for a couple of years, getting injections,” Szajkovics said. “They last for a few months and then they wear off, and the knee swells up every time I bowl. Then I have to ice it and rest it. It’s just been a nagging issue that I’m finally going to get fixed.”
History says the comeback should be interesting.
– Robert Szajkovics
Dear Dr. Cole
Just a quick, long overdue “Thank You” to you and your team for giving me an excellent new shoulder.
I can do all the things I love, golf, photography, lifting the grandkids, etc. and I feel NO PAIN.
Thank you for taking me as a patient and using your expertise.
– Lois Teerling
As a collegiate soccer player, I thought that tearing your ACL would be a death sentence. In my first conferenece game my Junior year that was sentenced upon me. I remember begging my athletic trainer to tell me that I hadn’t torn my ACL, and when I watched them test my knee I knew what had happened.
My freshman year I had broken my foot, so I knew what it was like to be injured, but I also knew that ACL recovery would be an entirely different battle. I was lucky in the fact that my mom is a physical therapist and was able to send me to Dr. Cole for surgery. With my mom’s knowledge in this field it was really comforting knowing that I was in good hands by someone that she trusted with her own daughter.
The first months of rehab were really brutal because I knew that everyday I would be pushing my pain limit to the maximum in order to get my range of motion back in my knee. When I was first released to start running was the most difficult part for me because I had to completely re-learn my stride and it felt as though I was running on a prosethic leg. My knee didn’t feel like it belonged to me and I kept hoping that at the end of my rehabilition process my knee would feel like my own. It was a constant battle for months trying to imagine what it would be like playing soccer again when I was struggling to just jog straight in gym shoes.
Finally after a long 10 months I was back at Madison and I was cleared to play for 20 minutes per half in our first away game against UCONN. Within the first 5 minutes of the game one of our starting centerbacks hurt her ankle so bad that she had to come out of the game. I was put in to replace her and ended up finishing the whole game and never looked back. Since that game 2 years ago I have played every minute of every game and was able to end my 5 year collegiate career as a Big Ten Champion. I am extremely grateful for being able to have had Dr. Cole as my surgeon.
Being in the hands of someone that my mother truely respects and is confident in lifted such a large weight off my shoulders because I knew I would come out of surgery and return to the game I love to play.
By age 18, Annie Hendricks’ knee was operated on eight different times, and it still wasn’t getting any better.
Hendricks first injured cartilage in her knee at age 8. She then developed a staph infection, leading to seven more operations over the next 10 years to repair the damage.
“Eventually all my cartilage in a couple of spots was gone because of the other surgeries,” Hendricks said. “It was bone-on-bone.”
Hendricks wasn’t able to walk up stairs or ride a bike without pain by the time she came to see Dr. Brian Cole at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. Cole, who was recommended to Hendricks by former Denver Broncos team physician Ted Schlagel, is well-known for his research with Rush University Medical Center on cartilage transplantation. After examining Hendricks, he thought she was an excellent candidate for a donor allograft (using tissue from a cadaver) procedure on her knee.
“He really changed my life and made everything better,” Hendricks said.
About a year after the surgery, Hendricks, now 19, is able to take stairs and ride a bike without pain. She is now working toward a goal she would not have been able to achieve before coming to Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. “I am becoming a volunteer firefighter and can do every physical task I need to do for it,” she said. “There are so many things I’m doing now that I never even thought about doing before.”
– Annie Hendricks
International Competitor Gets MOR Functional Sports Assessment before Returning to Sport
Brian Kachinsky, 31, a Wisconsin native who now resides in Chicago, is known for his fearless BMX riding style. He approaches bike tricks with calculated abandon, putting his body at risk daily. As a result, he is no stranger to injury.
In 2006, Kachinsky fell down a set of stairs while attempting a stunt. He tried to use his right leg for leverage, causing his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) to tear from blunt impact.
Not interested in taking time off from competing, Kachinsky spent the next four years riding with a knee brace to support his torn ACL. As he explained, “it was like riding a car with no seatbelt.”
Finally in 2011, he sought help from Dr. Brian Cole, an orthopedic surgeon with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) and one of 2013 Orthopedics This Weeks top 19 sports medicine specialists in the U.S. The BMX rider was impressed with Dr. Cole’s reassuring bedside manner and his accommodating, yet realistic attitude.
Kachinsky sent Cole a few videos for the doctor to understand the technique of BMX riding and how it affects a rider’s body. Dr. Cole not only watched the links that Kachinsky shared, but studied the sport and the rider’s style.
When speaking about Dr. Cole, Kachinsky admits, “He genuinely wanted me to succeed. He took the time to listen and understand what I wanted and needed, and before I was put under, Dr. Cole came by to give his support and let me know that everything was going to be fine.”
In November of 2011, Dr. Cole performed a patellar tendon graft revision surgery on the Kachinsky’s right ACL. After four months of physical therapy at MOR, Kachinsky felt ready to ride again, but Dr. Cole recommended that he first undergo an assessment to determine if he was ready to compete. Kachinsky took the Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Functional Sports Assessment (MOR FSA).
The MOR FSA is a series of tests that use body movements common in a recovering athlete’s individual sport to determine whether the patient can return to competition. Endurance, resistance, control, strength, form, and stability are tested and evaluated. The FSA identifies the patient’s deficiencies and gives them a better understanding of where they are, where they want to be, and where they need improvement.
Kachinsky describes performing the assessment as, “a mental barrier being overcome when I passed the standard. It gave me confidence. It was challenging and had a lot of variety.
In April of 2012, Brian Kachinsky competed in the Shanghai X Games. He placed fifth after being back on his bike for only two weeks.
When asked about his accomplishment, Kachinsky states, “My success was set up by Dr. Cole. I ride with ease and an assurance I didn’t have before. I’m no longer worried about my knee. My focus now is what’s in front of me.”
– Brian Kachinsky
In the fall of 2007, I injured my knee training for my second marathon. As a runner, I was accustomed to icing, slapping a knee brace on and running through the pain. It would take me more than a year and training through two more marathons to finally visit a doctor. Despite the doctor’s efforts, three surgeries and a year and a half of physical therapy, my knee pain not only remained, it increased.
Struggling with my knee issues for more than three years, I felt beaten down both physically and emotionally. Running was my outlet and my sanity, and suddenly that was taken away from me. My goal of returning to running eventually changed to just simply wanting to walk down a flight of stairs, kneel at church, walk my dog, or even to go even one day without excruciating pain radiating from my knee.
In early 2011, I was sent to Chicago to meet with yet a fourth orthopedic surgeon. With one quick look at the stack of MRI’s I walked in with, Dr. Cole was quick to assess that I was a candidate for a meniscus transplant. I was told I would be placed on the donor wait-list for a new meniscus and four months later, I was matched and received the transplant.
I truly believe the success of any medical procedure depends on your support system, and this includes all of the medical professionals involved. I could not have asked for a better facility, doctor and medical team. At times, the recovery process seemed like it would never end but with some patience and constant reassurance from Dr. Cole and his team, I started to slowly see progress. Things that I hadn’t been able to do in years (walk without pain) were suddenly possible.
Shortly after surgery I set a goal of running one final marathon. The reason behind this goal was two-fold: it gave me something to strive for physically but most importantly; it gave me a meaningful way to honor the individual whose meniscus I received during the transplant. On October 19th, 2014 I completed my fourth and final marathon and sent the finishers medal to the family of the person whose meniscus I have.
There are truly no words to describe how appreciative I am for the opportunities I’ve been given with my new meniscus. Had I known at the beginning of this journey what I know now, I would have skipped the three years of chronic pain, failed surgeries and frustrating physical therapy and gone straight to Dr. Cole for the transplant.
Michael Collins’ life was tragically cut short, but he continues to make a difference in the lives of others after donating his organs. His mother, Kelly Collins, still remembers the day Michael announced he had signed up as a donor. “A letter arrived from the secretary of state,” she says. “That day Michael was breezing in and out of the house doing something and I said, ‘Hey, you signed up to become a donor?’ And he yelled back, ‘Yep!’ I said, ‘Do you know what that means?’ ‘Yep!’ And out the door he went. He didn’t ask permission or our opinion. Signing up was the right thing to do, so he did it. That was Michael.”
On March 29, The Car Carrying Michael And Two Classmates Was Struck At An Intersection By A Drunken Driver Who Had Run A Red Light Traveling More Than 100 Mph. After Four Days In The Icu And Two Brain Surgeries, When Michael’s Fate Had Become Imminent, His Family Agreed To Honor The Pledge He Made On His 18Th Birthday To Become An Organ And Tissue Donor-Allowing Surgeons Time To Recover Enough Of His Organs And Tissue To Save Or Improve The Lives Of As Many As 200 Recipients.
“Michael Was The Ultimate Athlete From The Time He Was Born,” Kelly Continues. “To Think That It Has Now Come Full Circle, That His Cartilage And Bone And Tissue Could Live On And Benefit Other Athletes In This Higher Way, Well, I Looked Down At The List Of Possible Donations They Gave Me And Just Kept Saying ‘Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes.'”
Travis didn’t even make it out of the parking lot before his mangled right knee began to throb, again. By June 2013, Schertz, a speedy 6-foot-2, 205-pound sophomore wide-out at Minnesota State, had endured seven tedious, tortuous months of rehab following his fourth — and, he was assured, final — knee surgery. When he first arrived on campus, Schertz had dreams of fine tuning his power-forward explosiveness and following former Minnesota State receiver Adam Thielen to the NFL. Chronic cartilage problems, however, had left bone grinding against bone in his knee. Every time he used his leg, it shot white-hot, throbbing jolts of pain through his body, as if he had bitten his tongue.
Travis spent the next month researching alternative, advanced and cutting-edge orthopedic solutions. A pattern emerged. Every hit seemed to include the name of the same doctor: Chicago’s Brian Cole, the team physician for the Bulls and the White Sox and a pioneer in meniscal and cartilage transplants. Twenty years ago, doctors would have cleaned out Schertz’s knee, helped him manage his pain and sentenced him to a life on the La-Z-Boy.
Now, using tissue from donors like Michael Collins, Dr. Cole performs 50 meniscal transplants a year and has helped more than 50 elite pro and college athletes return to the field. “In many cases, this tissue is every bit as life-saving as an organ,” Cole says. “I have patients call, crying, in pain, angry, depressed, immobile, and in a hurry for surgery. But I have to remind them to keep perspective: Someone has to die before you can get your new knee.”
Schertz waited five months for a young donor with the same weight and bone measurements. On Nov. 20, 2013, he was on Cole’s operating table at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago for the five-hour surgery to realign his tibia and replace his meniscus and cartilage.
By June, Schertz was running on an anti-gravity treadmill at 80 percent of his weight. He returned to campus in the fall and hopes to rejoin the Division II No. 1-ranked Minnesota State team next year. A registered donor himself, Schertz wants the family of Michael Collins and his own set of donors to know that the end of his chronic suffering and the continuation of his football dreams have been nothing short of life-saving.
“Not a day or a moment goes by that I don’t stop in my tracks and think about the sacrifices and losses someone else had to go through so that I could fix my knee,” says Schertz, who wept at his keyboard while composing thank-you letters to his own donors’ families. “What can I do or say to that family to justify the fact that I still get to run and play and be healthy and active and pursue my football dreams at the expense of their son?”
I’m 28 and live in Madison with my husband Jason and our dog Jack who happens to be the star of the video. I had a bucket handle tear when I was 13 and have struggled with pain and stability since then. In total I’ve had 6 surgeries. The meniscal transplant was 6 months before our wedding so my major goal was to talk down the aisle to my husband without pain. We made it but it was rough! We honeymooned in Hawaii and were able to have an active and awesome honeymoon.
My life has changed so much in the last two years. I’m never going to pretend like I’m normal or that I don’t still have restrictions, but I have more strength and stability than I’ve had in years and feel comfortable in my own skin.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a basket case since my journey with Dr. Cole started. Everyone made me feel so comfortable. They answered and continue to answer all of my annoying questions and worries about the scar size, the recovery and what happens now. I’m not from Chicago so I am constantly relying on email and pictures to tell my story and I am always so impressed with how quickly everyone gets back to me.
This month I made a little video for my team that I thought I would share.
– Jess Stansell
Read more at mynewmeniscus.blogspot.com
If it wasn’t for Dr. Cole and his fabulous team – Kyle, Natalie and Mukesh, I would not be where I am today. I am PAIN FREE and able to exercise, play volleyball, softball, tennis, spin classes and even CrossFit. I thought I would never be able to play sports again.
Growing up a “TomBoy” in my neighborhood of all boys, I learned to play football, basketball, softball, volleyball, horseshoes etc. During high school, I was on the school teams – tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball, badminton and track and field where I ran the 100 and the 400 relay. I knew the ins and outs of the games and I never had any knee issues.
It wasn’t until I played on an extracurricular men’s and women’s softball team. I was pushed by the 3rd baseman while running to 3rd. I had pain for seven long years, saw three different doctors, and had three meniscus surgeries before seeing Rush’s team of doctors. I heard that the Rush doctors were the physicians for some of Chicago’s pro sports teams. If they can’t fix me no one can.
I underwent cortisone shots, bracing, physical therapy, and even microfracture surgery, but to no avail.
Dr. Cole was on the precipice of clinical trials for a neo-cartilage transplant and I became one of his four patients with only 16 patients across the US. I’ll never forget the neo-cartilage surgery date May 30, 2007 because it was a miracle for me. I regained use of my dominant knee and leg again!!!! I am finally able to do everything I want to do, no matter what sport it is.
I can’t thank the doctors and their teams enough for their dedication and resourcefulness for fixing my knee and giving me back by life to continue my passion of being active again and playing sports competitively.
In the spring of 2012, I had an MRI for a pulled ITB/hamstring injury and it was discovered I had stage 3/4 left knee OCD (osteochondritis dissecans), but I was asymptomatic. I took a break from playing soccer for about six weeks and went to physical therapy (PT) for my ITB/hamstring injury. I resumed playing soccer in the summer of 2012 and felt good, but as the 2012 fall season started I noticed some changes in my left knee. I did not have any pain or swelling, but I was having difficulty going upstairs, completing one-legged squats and I had limited range of motion. My knee would also lock from time to time and I felt like something was stuck in my knee. I had an overall feeling of instability in my knee and I became less comfortable cutting and pivoting. These symptoms were affecting my gait and I could no longer run or compete with explosiveness. Despite stretching before and after games, my knee continued to feel tight and stiff. In December, I took another break and went back for more PT. After completing PT, I began training for my high school season in February 2013 and was feeling better but not perfect. Following a high school game in April, I came off the field with a swollen knee and I was in a lot of pain. Surgery was scheduled to correct the OCD on April 30, 2013.
I started feeling very good about 4 weeks post-op. I completed about 20 PT sessions and went back to playing soccer at about 80% of my potential at the end of July. By August I felt 100%. Since surgery, I no longer have any pain, swelling or stiffness in my left knee. I have full range of motion; I can cut and pivot easily, complete one-legged squats and have no problem with stairs. My speed is back and my left knee feels stable. I play soccer about 7-8 hours a week and travel to play in elite tournaments around the country where I start every game. I am back scoring goals and I feel amazing! I am grateful for the surgery that helped fix my knee because I am now back and doing what I love!
Thank you again for all your great care!
– Kelly Maday #14
One of the most dreaded things an athlete can hear is that your ACL is torn. I had to process this difficult news after waking up from surgery to repair my torn meniscus which uncovered that my left ACL was also torn from an old high school soccer injury. As a competitive 2’s sand volleyball player, this news was particularly difficult. Dr. Cole and his staff not only repaired my knee excellently, but were patient and comforting with the mental and spiritual aspects of my recovery. The entire team’s responsiveness to my questions was awe inspiring – I don’t think I’ve encountered a business with better customer service!
Injured or not, sitting on my laurels is just not something I’m capable of. Dr. Cole and his team understood this and, more broadly, how to work with athletes and our eccentricities. The focus was always on what I could do and staying aggressive on my physical therapy regimen. As a result, I felt busy and active during my recovery, even if the activities were different. Thanks to Dr. Cole and his team, plus a great physical therapy team, I regained full range of motion in my knee three weeks after surgery, was running comfortably at 8 weeks, resumed training in the sand at 12 weeks, and was practicing sand volleyball at 100% 4 months after surgery. I played in my first post-op competitive tournament 5 months after surgery; no brace, no pain, and no swelling. Since my ACL was torn for 10+ years without my knowledge, I can honestly say I feel better now – quicker and more stable – than I did before the ACL reconstruction. Thank you Dr. Cole, Kyle, Natalie and team!
– Caroline Allen
My name is Hayley Bordui. Going into my junior year of high school basketball, I was being recruited by multiple division one schools. In the preseason, I had a sudden knee injury. Having my future in basketball be put in jeopardy was a little bit discouraging at times. However, there was no question that Dr. Cole was the man I’d go to for the right treatment that would give me the best shot of being the same player I was before the injury. Not knowing what procedure was going to be done, I trusted in Dr. Cole to make the right game-time decision, and he did. Dr. Cole performed micro fracture surgery and a meniscus repair on me on November 29.
It was a bitter pill to swallow knowing that I would have to miss my whole high school season and the majority of the spring AAU season (the most important for college recruiting). As discouraging as it may have been at times, Dr. Cole, his staff, and physical therapists made outstanding decisions during my recovery process. As the months passed by, my knee got stronger along with my motivation. I returned to my AAU team in May, and my first tournament back happened to be for the state championship for high school girls in Indiana. Fittingly, my team won the state championship, and I got to be a part of it as a player rather than someone on an injured list. I continued to get back to my pre-injury level, and ended up competing at the highest level of girl’s high school basketball in the country, the AAU National Championships in Orlando, Florida. My team placed in the top 16 nationally, and colleges began to recruit me again.
Dr. Cole did an amazing job. My knee feels great, and I am now athletically at the highest level I have ever been at. The whole experience made me a physically and mentally stronger person. It was amazing how all the hard work paid off for me in the form of a state championship!
Dr. Cole, thank you for the work you did on me and for making the treatment decisions you did. I would not be the person or athlete I am today without that experience and the support of you and your staff at Rush. Looking back a year later, it was the best decision that I could have made for myself to trust in your instincts!
– Hayley Bordui
On October 15, 2011, I participated in my very first Spartan Race, the Midwest Sprint. I’ve been participating in sports for as long as I can remember and I’ve had some experience running a few obstacle course races before, so I thought I was prepared for this race. About a mile in I knew I was in for one of the most difficult races I have ever done. It was 4.5 miles of gnarly terrain plus obstacles that included 8ft wall climbs, 40lb sand bag carries, mud crawls, and fire jumping. When I crossed that finished line completely exhausted, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to do my next Spartan Race. Unfortunately the reality of my situation hit me like the sand bag I had carried as my right knee pain was just too much for me to consider doing yet another Spartan Race.
Three days later, Dr. Cole performed my scheduled right knee microfracture. I woke up in the recovery room and remember hearing that there was not 1 articular cartilage defect in my knee but 2 and microfracture was done at both sites. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, but my faith was in Dr. Cole and his staff. I knew I was in good hands and the only thing I could do was move forward.
The first few months post surgery were tough, not so much physically, but more mentally. I spent my life being active and having to slow my activities to an almost literal crawl was hard. I’m sure I drove Dr. Cole and his P.A.s Kyle & Natalie nuts with all my questions and e-mails. But I will tell you, every question I had, and every e-mail I sent was answered in record time. I can’t say enough about how much that meant to me and my recovery. I can’t thank them all enough for being ‘available’ and taking time to show that they really do care.
I put in a lot of time and hard work, dedicating myself to getting back to where I was before my injury, if not better. Throughout the entire year long process, there was always one thing in the back of my mind – would I be able to do another Spartan Race again? There were times that I seriously questioned if I would even be able to run again, much less participate in an obstacle course race. If it wasn’t for the support and encouragement from everyone in Dr. Cole’s office, I’m not sure I would have been able to deal with the whole recovery/rehabilitation process.
I’m happy to say that on October 11th I was finally given a clean bill of health and told I could move forward with my normal activities. The only thing that was on my mind was participating in the next Spartan Race, the Midwest Super. So on October 27th, I laced up my shoes, joined my friends at the starting line and raced with nothing but my heart. I finished the 8 to 9 mile course in just over 3 hours. Three weeks later, I found myself at the starting line at another Spartan Race. This time it was at the first ever Fenway Spartan Race Time Trials inside of historic Fenway Park in Boston. This once in a lifetime opportunity allowed me to climb a cargo net along the Green Monster, carry a 70lb sandbag throughout the outfield bleachers, do burpees on the warning track in center field, and do box jumps in the Red Sox dugout.
It really is amazing how much difference a year can make. I have already started training for my next race season which currently includes 7 obstacle course races.
None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for Dr. Cole, his staff, and everyone at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. While dealing with injuries and surgery is never something anyone wants to have to go through, it does happen, and I would never trust my care with anyone else.
Thank you for EVERYTHING!
— Missy Morris
Here are a few of my images from the Midwest Super Spartan Race and the Fenway Spartan Race.
If you are looking for some information on Obstacle Course Racing, here are some good sites. but I warn you, once you do 1 event you will be hooked:
There are various other well-known Obstacle Course Races that are held in the Chicago area too including: Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Gladiator Assault Challenge, Down & Dirty, Hero Rush, GoRuck, SERE, and a few others.
Dear Dr. Cole, PA Kyle, and PA Natalie,
On May 29, on Dr. Cole’s recommendation, I underwent right knee arthroscopy at Rush Oak Park after having had pain for 8 months and no alleviation after PT and a cortisone shot. I had medial plica and Hoffa’s fat pad resection and some cleanup done. It is now almost 6 months from my surgery, and I want to thank you all (and all the staff at Rush and Rush Oak Park) for a successful outcome.
I no longer have random wrenching medial knee pain when standing or leaning over, I can walk with no problem, and I am slowly returning to dance and exercise and having good results. I can also be in a pool without the movement of the water over my knee causing pain. Since the end of September, I have been doing quad exercises and riding a stationary bike 3-5 miles 3 times per week (with no resistance). I have also been taking level I Zumba and dance classes twice a week for 25 minutes each. Today I tried a 40-minute level 2 class and, with modifications, had a fairly good result. Still working out some minor soreness each time I try a new level or length of duration of exercise, but I think that’s part of the recovery/rebuilding process. I am pleased, pleased, pleased with my result!
Thank you for giving me my daily mobility back and for also allowing me to return to my love of dance and anything dance related. If I had followed the advice of the local doctor I saw before learning of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush and Dr. Cole from my PTs, I would probably be inactive, miserable, and, on his advice, living in a ranch house right now.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for all of you. May you enjoy a great holiday!
– Sincerely, TS
I just wanted to write to you, Natalie, and the rest of your staff and say a huge THANK YOU for everything you did for me with my knee surgery in January! After several months of physical therapy after you repaired my torn meniscus, I am feeling great! I am able to run again comfortably with NO pain!
I actually was able to run the Chicago Marathon on October 7th and this is 100% due to the amazing work and skill of you and your team. I was a lot slower runner this year as I need to get back in shape still, but to be able to run without pain is a dream come true for me! Just to cross the finish line felt amazing. You and your staff are amazing people and I am so grateful to have found you all.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you!! I hope all is well with everyone!
My photo taken right after I finished the 2012 Chicago Marathon!
All my best,
– Holly Amatangelo
My name is Shea McGovren. I am a daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, niece, cousin, granddaughter and health care provider. I love to laugh, waterski, snowski, live, white water raft, walk our dog and to practice physical therapy. For nearly 10 years I was unable to enjoy all these activities and many others due to the excruciating pain that I endured. At 15 years young, I injured my shoulder in an extreme traction mechanism in my high school English class. I was forced to see many doctors but there was only one team that specifically knew what procedure would completely end my pain – Dr. Brian Cole and his wonderful Physician Assistant, Kyle Pilz.
August 2006: Anterior Capsular Shift
October 2008: Bicep Tenodesis to Soft Tissue
August 2009: Debridement
July 2010: Possible Bicep Tenotomy but physician stated ‘could not find bicep’
November 11, 2011: Bicep Tenodesis Revision by Dr Brian Cole [yes, I still have my bicep!]
I am so lucky to truly say I have been given my life back but only due to Dr. Cole and his team. I am currently able to sleep through the night, do my job with ease, be generally happier and put greater energy into my relationships with family, friends and boyfriend.
Recently my wonderfully supportive, loving, beautiful mother and I won a trip to Miraval Resort and Spa where we went zip lining. As I jumped from the platform, I sped away from all the pain, anger, nights spent crying, the tests, the medications and into a completely different life with a completely different Shea.
Thank you to these wonderful people who put up with me day in and day out.
– Shea McGovren
All my life I have been on the go. It’s just how I live my life and want to continue living it this way. I started playing softball when I was four years old. The position I went with from age six to 22 was catcher. I loved it! I was always in the action…and always squatting up and down. I didn’t have any problems with my knees until I stopped softball and started to run long distance. I had knee pain when I was doing menial activities, such as stairs, squatting to talk to my students (I’m a teacher), etc. It wasn’t any fun.
I decided I had to see a doctor. The first doctor I saw did a microfracture surgery and actually ended up making my knee worse. I ended up seeing Dr. Cole about a year later. We tried a few things and then ended up deciding I needed to have an ACI/AMZ. It was a rough few weeks after the surgery, but Dr. Cole, Natalie, and Kyle were there for me every step of the way. It was comforting to know that they would answer every question or concern I had within minutes of sending an email.
It has been a year since my ACI/AMZ and I couldn’t be happier that I had this procedure done. I am back to running. I joined a run club and ran a 5K. I will also be participating in a slow pitch softball league in the spring. I have hopes to be pregnant in the next year and feel confident that this procedure has aided in all areas of my active life. I am no longer worried if I will be able to chase my kids around or be in pain during pregnancy. Thank you Dr. Cole, Natalie, and Kyle for getting me where I am today!
My name is Kaitlyn Biegelmann, and I had a meniscal transplant on July 7, 2010. Before my surgery I could hardly walk and was in constant pain. As a teen it was difficult to keep up with my friends. Since my surgery I have been able to run without much pain, and I can do the normal things that a teenager should do. I owe my successful recovery to Natalie. I emailed her weekly and she kept encouraging me when it hurt the most. I followed every one of Dr. Cole’s post-surgical instructions. This year I was able to participate in my high school marching band.
It is important to me to continue living actively because I was given a new opportunity that I would not have had a few years ago. I need to make the most of my new meniscus, and continue to live life to the fullest and to live active.
– Kaitlyn Biegelmann
In February of ‘11, Dr. Cole replaced my right shoulder with a reverse ball and socket replacement. This surgery was much different from the previous (rotator cuff repair) in that the rehab was faster, easier and less painful. The worse part may have been the effects of having general anesthesia.
My rehab progressed quickly, compared to my rotator cuff tear. I experienced almost no resting pain. All of the joint pain that I had before is gone, and my range of motion is almost back to normal.
Dr. Cole and his staff are the most conscientious and considerate health care providers that I have ever had. They are very accessible. When I have a question, I can email Kyle or Natalie and get an answer within hours or less. Dr. Cole’s staff is also very organized and very customer oriented. They have been kind and respectful to me.
– Mike Doyle (62yr)
My name is Alex Ruder, and I have been very active in sports for nearly most of my life until my shoulder began to hurt. What I initially thought would go away with rest ended up being a seven-year ordeal. This is the story. Just after I turned 21, my shoulder started to hurt. I played tennis often, lifted weights, and formerly played football. I thought the pain was related to sports, so I took time off. But the pain only became worse. It was sharp, constant, located just beneath where the collar bone meets the shoulder blade on top of my shoulder.
Finally, after months of rest I visited an orthopedic doctor. I was told to rest, go to physical therapy, and then try an injection. None of these things brought relief. Eventually I moved on to another doctor. Over the next five years I visited five different doctors, and no one provided solutions. Naturally, I was frustrated. I was in constant pain. I could no longer work out. In fact, in two short years I went from 210 lbs. of muscle to just over 170 lbs. I became thin. No doctors seemed able to help me.
Then a doctor at a reputable hospital decided to operate on my shoulder. Strangely, the surgery made my pain worse. The doctor told me to rest, get an injection, and that the pain would go away. After several months I went to another doctor at a reputable hospital. This doctor operated again, and once again, instead of helping the pain, it became excruciating. I could not sleep. I could not work, study for my college courses or participate in any activities.
Then everything changed. When I went to see yet another orthopedic surgeon—a physician at Notre Dame—he actually referred me to Doctor Cole. I was immediately impressed with Dr. Cole’s attitude—his priority was fixing my shoulder but carefully explained the potential risks and anticipated outcome. I could tell he took me seriously, which was important, because I felt like all the previous doctors did not take my problem seriously.
The subsequent shoulder surgery was intense, as was the long recovery. But I healed 100%, and now after seven years of shoulder problems I am active. I play squash regularly, and I lift weights daily. My weight is back up to 190 lbs. I am healed.
My advice to anyone suffering similar long-term pain and getting no answers from your doctors: find the right doctor. If I had not found Dr. Cole, I am convinced I would still be in pain.
– Alex Ruder
Eleven years ago, I hurt my shoulder in a freak accident. After two operations, eight years, and countless negative MRIs, I was still in pain all the time. It was then that I decided to go to Dr. Brian Cole. He concluded I needed a humeral head osteochondral allograft transplant. I finally had my surgery in August 2010. I won’t lie, the surgery and rehab was the hardest I’ve been through. For the first few weeks all I could do was pendulums, 1,500 a day. After that, it was just slow. Through it all, I knew the hard work would all be worth it. It’s been about nine months now since my surgery, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I have a full range of motion for the first time in years and am pain free.
One of the things that was hardest for me while my shoulder was injured was not being able to play tennis frequently. I’d still try and play, but I’d always end up in excruciating pain. I’ve started playing again this spring, and my shoulder feels great!
Through it all, Dr. Cole and his PAs, Kyle and Natalie, have been great. I remember when Dr. Cole first said I needed a graft. My mom was with me and asked him how many he had done. He said “about thirty” and seeing the shock on our faces he continued to say that was more than anyone else. I knew he’d do whatever it took to get me feeling better and back to an active life.
– Amanda Meyers
I tore my ACL playing football on 10/16/10. For an 11-year-old, the last thing you want to hear is an 8-month recovery and surgery. Oh yeah, and I can’t play any sports in that time period. It really stunk, especially because I played football, basketball, swimming, baseball, and Tae Kwon Do. I had surgery December 1, 2010, with Dr. Cole. Surgery is a bummer, but I had some of the best doctors and physical therapists I could have hoped for. Today, I’m back to doing everything that I had been doing, thanks to them.
I went to physical therapy two or three times a week for six months, along with leg exercises at home. Not exactly easy, but I really didn’t have anything better to do. Over time, I had occasional visits with Dr. Cole, and every time I did better than the last, so the procedure went well and so did physical therapy. Thank goodness.
Nowadays, I’m running every day I can, along with fully participating in physical education at school. Also, I’ll be able to participate in sports fully without a brace. I barely even think about my knee or injury anymore, though some things are a little awkward after not doing them since October.
The key to sticking it through is to keep a positive outlook, and think about what you’ll do when you’re recovered.
What I learned from this experience was that you don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone. I heard it before, but I always thought it was kind of pointless, that you did know how good you had it. Boy was I wrong. When I couldn’t run, I wished I could, to say the least. That was all I could think about; running again. But thanks to Dr. Cole, now that’s a reality.
Thanks one more time to Dr. Cole, the best doctor I could have asked for to get my knee back to normal.
– Sam Wittwer
As a former patient of Dr. Cole’s, I knew he was the first person I was going to contact when we got Sam’s torn ACL diagnosis. I emailed him to ask him if he would be able to help Sam, being that Sam is so young. Shortly after I sent my email, Dr. Cole called me to discuss Sam’s diagnosis.
From diagnosis to recovery, I could not have hand-picked a better team of people to care for my son. Seeing your child injured is one of the most difficult things to experience. With Dr. Cole there is no question in my mind that Sam had the best care available, which put my mind at ease throughout the entire journey.
I now watch Sam running around and doing all the activities and sports he loves, and I can’t fully express my gratitude to Dr. Cole for everything he and his team at Rush have done for us.
Left Shoulder – Capsular Release May 2007
Right Shoulder – Capsular Release November 2010
Four years ago at age 54, three orthopedic surgeons told me that my left shoulder had no cartilage. It was arthritic and that was the reason for my limited range of motion and daily pain. All prescribed a total shoulder replacement, but I wasn’t satisfied with the diagnosis. My determination led me to Dr. Brian Cole. After my first appointment, he gave me the hope that I was looking for, a complete capsular release which would give me pain relief and more mobility. It worked, but three years later my right shoulder was posing the same problems as the left—arthritic, pain and limited motion. Even with these hurdles I was still working out six to seven days a week at limited mobility.
Dr. Cole felt that surgery on my right shoulder with a capsular release would relieve the grinding in my shoulder, and even though there was bone on bone arthritis, my range of motion could get better. I was in therapy the day after surgery, and four months later, I am back to the strength I had before the surgery, and it is getting better every day. I can now play baseball again and golf. Being a high school offensive and defensive line football coach, it was important that my shoulders allow me to demonstrate powerful blocks to my students/players. Today my workouts are more intense, and I am living with minimal achiness in both shoulders.
– Keith Bailey
My name is Alicia Baisden. On 12-01-2011 I had rotator cuff surgery. Before my surgery I was unable to lift or carry anything over a few pounds without pain. If I overused the right hand, it would also cause pain. I could not do housework unless I used my left hand.
Now that I have had the surgery, I lift and carry my groceries or other bags. I do my housework without fear of pain.
What helped me recover was my physical therapy which was for 11 weeks, but what really helped my recovery was that I had a great surgeon. After surgery I only had to use pain pills for two days. My scars are so minimal that they are almost unnoticeable.
It is very important for me to be able to continue living a full and active life. I enjoy a lot of physical activities and did not want to be limited.
I want to thank Dr Brian Cole and his staff. Everyone always was available for any questions or concerns.
– Alicia Baisden
I tore my ACL at the USA National Ultimate Frisbee Championships in October, and Dr. Cole repaired my ACL with a hamstring graft in November. By February I was rock climbing and biking. In mid-March, I joined my brother on a two-day, 19-mile round-trip, 2,000-foot change-in-elevation cross-country ski trip to the Ostrander Hut in Yosemite National Park. In retrospect – and actually during the trip – I realized that it was far too early after my surgery to attempt such a feat, especially with a 50 lb. pack on my back. That I would attempt such a trip and not turn around suggests that I probably push myself too hard, but my success is evidence of Dr. Cole’s surgical skills at repairing ACLs. I knew that I would be reprimanded for taking on such an adventure, but after telling me to never do anything like that until after full recovery, I was given a sly smile and told that it was awesome. Having a team of doctors who value an active lifestyle and understand the challenges to keeping an athlete cooped up inside is one of the few things that have made my recovery manageable.
I was always active growing up but it wasn’t until my early 20’s that I discovered running. I started out as many beginning runners do, logging 1-2 miles at a time, increasing the miles over the years until I was eventually running 50-70 miles a week. Running became my constitution. As a twenty-something, my days were filled with working, running, sleeping and eating. I ran the local Chicago racing circuit, then marathons. I was happy and I felt terrific. In my 30’s, as I married, held a full-time job and raised two kids, I continued running and, after all the swimming I did during my pregnancies, I started competing in triathlons too – still happy, still terrific.
But then after 25 years of competitive running and a dozen triathlons – not so terrific. The cartilage in my left knee was damaged. Agonizing pain, limping, swelling, and waking during the night from pain became typical. I depended on ibuprofen to get through each day. I was miserable, continuously in pain and unable to run–or be active at all. Even gardening became too painful. From appointments with foot doctors, diagnostic x-rays, purchasing better running shoes, MRIs, orthopaedic surgeons, arthroscopic debridement, Pilates, microfracture procedures, injections, prescription pain killers, and physical therapy, I was desperately seeking a solution that would enable me to get back to running. Feeling frustrated that nothing helped, I was determined to run again.
Finally, in early 2008 I was referred to Dr. Brian Cole. Dr. Cole gave me hope that I could regain my mobility with surgery. In November 2008, Doctor Cole’s team performed an osteochondral allograft transplant (OAT) on my left knee. The surgery was immediately followed by 8 hours/day of continuous passive motion (CPM) and a full year of serious rehab. I learned to walk again after 12 weeks of no weight bearing. I swam laps when I couldn’t put weight on my knee and lifted weights while sitting. I discovered creative ways to keep active during the long year of rehab.
In October 2010, two years after the surgery, my husband and I travelled to Italy’s rugged Amalfi Coast. This trip would definitely test my new knee. On a day trip to the Isle of Capri, we decided to hike the Phoenician trail – an ancient walkway climbing over 1,000 feet to the island’s summit. At the top, as we looked out over the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea, I knew my knee had passed the test. It’s been 2.5 years since my surgery and I am a completely pain free. I exercise vigorously every single day, swim with a strong kick, bike for hours at a time, hike miles up steep hills, and I even run an occasional 3.7 miles. Before surgery this never seemed possible.
I am happy and feel terrific. I have been given a second chance thanks to Doctor Cole and his team and I am forever grateful. I am “Mona 2.0.”
– Mona Frisbie
My name is John Mele. I have been very active in sports and weight lifting my entire life. I played football through college, baseball for 12 years, I wrestled and even boxed. Now at 35, I focus on golf and snowboarding. I’ve had the makings of a SLAP tear (torn labrum) for roughly six years. I did physical therapy twice, which successfully made the pain go away for about a year or two, but each time it came back. When the pain came back a third time I decided to just fix it. At this point, I could no longer lift weights and couldn’t even lift a gallon of milk! Dr. Cole came highly recommended from a trusted source. Upon consulting with Dr. Cole and his physician’s assistant, Natalie, I immediately felt very comfortable with them. The surgery itself was a piece of cake. I really felt very well taken care of by not only Dr. Cole and Natalie, but the anesthesiologist, the nurses and just about everyone I dealt with at the hospital.
After the surgery I took physical therapy very seriously since I had a driving motivation – my annual golf trip! I’m happy to say that 12 weeks to the day of the surgery I played two rounds of pain-free golf! And if it weren’t for one really bad hole, I would have scored my best round ever. After the golf trip, I resumed snowboarding and lifting weights and am currently (at 15 weeks) about 95% pain-free, with the rest just a matter of regaining full strength.
As the one-year anniversary of my meniscal transplant approaches, I sit down and marvel how something as small as a meniscus can have a very BIG impact on your life.
It all started eleven years ago, on March 18, 1999. I was sitting on the floor in school doing a project with some of my classmates when I tried to get up. I could not open my knee. After a visit to the orthopedist, I was diagnosed with a meniscal tear. My knee was “locked” and surgery was the only option for me at that point.
Fast forward… surgery was done, and I thought I was done with this condition, but unfortunately God had some other plans for me. Two months after being discharged from physical therapy I re-tore my meniscus. Again the doctor said surgery was the only option, but I wasn’t ready to go under the knife again. Two years, a new doctor, and many other nonoperative treatments later, I went under the knife again for my second menisectomy. This time around the surgery was considered “successful.” For over five years I was pain free. Fast forward to 2007–sitting as a passenger in a car involved in a MVA, I reinjured my knee for the THIRD time!! With a bucket handle tear and my knee again in the “locked” position I had no option but to undergo a third menisectomy.
In 2009, with the beginning stages of arthritis forming and a failed third meniscectomy, my NY surgeon, Dr. David Menche, suggested that I may be a candidate for a meniscal transplant. So off I flew to Chicago to meet with Dr. Brian Cole and his team.
After consulting with Dr. Cole and his team, the final decision was made to start the process of finding a match for me. When the call came a few months later that a match had been found I was confronted with making the “real” decision. Do we proceed or not? After some back and forth, the surgical date was set. Still unsure if I had made the correct decision I boarded the flight to Chicago, knowing that recovery was supposed to be long and painful. But with the help of God I was proven wrong. My recovery was uneventful. I had minimal pain which was under control with the use of the “Game Ready” ice machine. (I did not take any painkillers throughout my entire recovery process.) Later the same day of surgery, I was walking (on crutches and braced) through the hotel hallways! It felt great!!
With the help of God and the constant support from my family; Dr. Brian Cole; Dr. David Menche (NY); PA’s Kyle Pilz and Natalie Podboy; and the entire staff of Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH and Metrosportsmed (NY), I was able to make a full recovery.
This ordeal has taught me not to take the “little” things for granted in life. Something so small as the meniscus can have a life-long effect on a person and his quality of life.
Stevenson wins NSC crown
By Rusty Silber
A year ago, Caitlin Pagano suffered a devastating fall on the bars in warm-ups right before the North Suburban Conference meet, which was being held at Stevenson.
Pagano had dislocated her elbow, forcing her to miss the meet, the state series and necessitating a couple of surgeries in the off-season.
On Friday night, a year later, she returned to the meet where the injury occurred and went right back on the bars in warm ups without hesitation.
“I had thought a lot about it during the day,” Pagano said. “It hit me when I was warming up. I looked at the bars and I remembered it. I just tried to forget about it and focus on what I was doing.
“(Coach) Harwood was telling me ‘If you’re going to fall, then you know how to fall.’
I was like, ‘I shouldn’t worry about.'”
Pagano made it through warm-ups with no problems this time, and then made it count in the meet. She earned top honors with a 9.55 in the meet.
Success for Pagano helped Stevenson to another NSC title, this one at Vernon Hills. The Patriots finished at 149.5, ahead of Lake Forest (146.925) and Libertyville (143.325).
“The girls are doing great and I do like how they are working,” Stevenson coach Judy Harwood said. “We have confidence that we can hit our routines because we do them every day in practice over and over and over.”
The Patriots’ Ali Castriano sure had a lot of confidence. She hit a Yurchenko layout, and received a career-best 9.9 and on her way to winning the event.
“I’ve never done that in any event,” said Pagano, who had a 9.7 at state last year. “All week, I had trouble with it in practice. I was just focusing on my power and trying to land it.”
Castriano also won the all-around (38.25), along with taking first on floor (9.6) and tying for second on bars with Lake Forest’s Kylie Carlson (9.4).
The Patriots’ Theresa Wojton placed second in the all-around (37.4), took first on beam (9.6) and second on floor (9.45). Carlie Dobkin tied for fourth on bars with Vernon Hills’ Alli Tran (9.35) and Pagano finished fifth on beam (9.4).
Tran has been one of the Cougars’ steadily improving gymnasts and had one of her best routines on the bars.
“It was one of better ones, because I stuck my dismount, a double-back,” said Tran, a sophomore. “Right now, I’m trying to stay consistent.”
Libertyville’s Laura Herchenbach placed fourth in the all-around. She tied for third on vault with Grace Kohlmaier of Lake Forest (9.5) and took third on floor (9.4). Teammate Jenna Dunsing finished in a third-place tie with Mundelein’s Lisa Wajswol on the beam (9.45).
“It’s the best I’ve done in an invite,” said Dunsing, who had a 9.5 in a dual earlier this season. “I’ve been working on new skills this past week in practice and things worked out.”
The Mustangs’ Wajswol also placed fifth in the all-around (37) and fifth on floor (9.3).
Copyright © 2011 Paddock Publications, Inc.
Reprinted by permission
Thank you for pulling my life back on track. I have suffered from shoulder instability for eight years, with no sports, and I even experienced discomfort with doing simple tasks such as homework.
My first surgery in Beijing did not lead to a good outcome. This failure made me less confident in doctors and surgery.
After I met with Dr. Cole, I felt that I had met the ONE to save my shoulder and my life. After putting my trust in Dr. Cole and his staff, I am back on track after he was the one who finally fixed my problem. I have also learned that trust between the doctor, physical therapist and patient is so important.
No words can express my gratitude. Thank you, Dr. Cole, for listening to my verbose story and my many questions and for patiently explaining my problem to me. Thank you and your staff for all the consideration and efficiency during the surgical process. I really can feel that you care for me and my health.
I even considered applying to be your PhD or medical student! (Just kidding—I am happily working as a strategist in the headquarters of a fortune 500 company in Hong Kong and now, gladly use my right shoulder.)
Thank you so much, Dr. Cole.
– Best, Xuan
I grew up in central Montana where I learned to love outdoor activities, and I’ve always loved running. As a young girl I wore out three stick horses (a popular toy back in the 1960s) on the gravel roads surrounding our home near the foot of the Belt Mountains. I ran competitively in high school and college, and after graduating from college I returned to Lewistown where I teach science and coach cross country and track.
Running, hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, golfing, coaching, and walking have always been important contributors to my quality of life.
Then in 2008, when I was 49, my left knee suddenly began to hurt after the most basic of daily activities. Until that time, I had been comfortably running several miles a day. However, as soon as I experienced the pain in my knee, I stopped running, had an MRI, and began physical therapy as suggested by my doctor.
After six months of continual pain, physical therapy and no improvement, I underwent arthroscopic surgery here in Lewistown to remove torn cartilage. My doctor was surprised to find that my knee was bone-on-bone in several places and told me that I would never run again.
By then, I had turned 50 and was advised that because of my age, my only option was knee replacement, but that I should try to wait until I was a little older to have the knee replacement. I very much wanted to get back to the quality of life that I enjoyed so much as soon as possible, so a knee replacement sometime in the distant future seemed like a poor solution to me.
After researching the possibilities, I found a doctor in Montana who did cartilage transplants, but he said that the amount of bone-on-bone in my knee was beyond his procedural ability. He referred me on to Dr. Cole at Rush in Chicago. In spite of my age, Dr. Cole determined that I would be a good candidate for a cartilage transplant and distal realignment.
The recovery was not easy, but I was able to begin coaching and teaching two weeks after the surgery. My recovery is progressing nicely on the timeline Dr. Cole predicted. My quality of life is also improving on the same schedule. Those first two years of going over the hill to the other side of 50 have been challenging, but it’s been a new awakening for me because I am relishing each run, mountain hike, and walk in the countryside with my family.
I am so thankful to be pain free and I am grateful to Dr. Cole and his staff for making it possible.
– Suzie Flentie
I underwent a partial removal of my miniscus on 8/25/10. I can now do everything, including walking at 4 miles per hour, without any knee pain.
It is very important to attend all the therapy sessions prescribed by the doctor – I went to AthletiCo – and work hard at it. Also, use the weights and other tools (at home or in a club) and follow the therapy instructions given by the doctor. In my case, I also continued with my regular workout schedule at my health club, initially at a somewhat reduced level. I am back to normal now.
It has always been important to me to be LiveActive. I was 43 when I had a heart attack, from which I recovered completely. At age 65, I finally needed a bypass. I will soon be 70 and want to keep “moving young”!
– Leo Bruynseels
Total Shoulder Replacement
Prior to the procedure, I could touch the top of my head with my right arm, only with pain. I could not touch the top of my left shoulder. And I certainly could not enjoy sailing my 44 foot ketch on Lake Michigan. I was confined to sitting, rather than participating.
Successful recovery to me means setting specific goals to be obtained within specific time frames (sailing, working out, etc). Also, being careful to follow the rehab protocol dictated by Dr. Cole and implemented by my therapist. The “homework” portion of the therapy is very important and significantly speeds the process. I had more pain-free movement four days following surgery, than before the procedure. I had to be scolded about overusing my new shoulder.
The importance of LiveActive seems to be a silly question. Why have the surgery, if not interested in “Living Active?” As a 71 year old former Marine, I have 256 parachute jumps. I want to do that again. I want to sail my ketch in 30 knot wind and see how far I can bury the rail. (“If you ain’t railin’, you ain’t sailin’.”)
Attached is a picture of what I intend to look like again this summer, which is how I looked two years ago, before my shoulder went bad.
I will send needful patients to Dr. Cole every chance I get.
– Wayne Barnett
My name is Frank, and while I don’t normally admit it, I’m over 60 years old (or young, as the case may be). Swimming has been my main athletic activity–I usually swim more than 200 miles per year. Beginning about six years ago, I started to experience discomfort and varying degrees of pain in my left shoulder, which was treated intermittently with cortisone injections, physical therapy, acupuncture, prescription/non-prescription medication, as well as reducing or discontinuing swimming. In June of 2010, Dr. Cole performed a rotator cuff repair and biceps tenodesis on my left shoulder, after which I followed a lengthy course of physical therapy with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. The results have been little short of phenomenal, and I am very grateful to Dr. Cole and the staff of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush for my recovery and the greatly increased quality of life that I am now experiencing. I’m attaching photos taken in late November of 2010 when I began swimming again.
I have several suggestions for anyone who decides to have the kind of orthopaedic surgery I had: (i) Follow Dr. Cole’s pre- and post-operative instructions scrupulously–he can do miraculous surgery, but it’s the patient’s responsibility to assure that follow-on care and physical therapy occur as prescribed–they are essential for a proper recovery; (ii) Do not expect too much too soon after surgery–slow, steady, incremental rehab efforts over a several-month period will be required; (iii) Be patient and expect some degree of residual pain or discomfort during the recovery period–that will subside, but it may take several months; (iv) Hang in there and don’t give up—you’ll be as enthusiastic about the result of Dr. Cole’s efforts as I am!
Hi, my name is John, and before I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Cole and his team, I had five knee operations within a 20-year period. During those procedures the doctors would remove bone fragments that were causing my knee to lock up and drill small holes to increase the blood flow. Due to the loss of bone in my left knee, there was no other option except a partial knee replacement or osteochondral allograft of medial femoral condyle and HTO. So, because of my young age, and the fact that my knee would give out about five to ten times a day, and I was always in pain, I chose option two.
After waiting a short period of time, I got the call–the doctor had received a bone. I went in for the procedure knowing recovery would take a while. After I got home, I had a great support team in place: my parents and a wonderful girlfriend, who is now my beautiful wife. The pain was rough for about two or three weeks, but became more manageable as the weeks progressed. The day following surgery, I started the cmm machine and the ice machine (a life saver if you ask me)! The next day I was on both machines as often as I could. The cmm machine was tough for about three days following surgery, then it actually started to feel good. I started physical therapy about a week later. It was a tough schedule to keep, but I truly believe it is why I got 100% mobility back. When I left therapy I could bend my left knee one degree farther than my right! Truly a miracle. It took about three months before I was able to return to work and stand for a full eight-hour day.
Though the pain was unbearable at times, it was truly worth it. I now function with no knee pain–something I never thought would be possible in my lifetime.
I believe a good portion of my success was due to great support from family and friends, following the doctor’s orders to the letter, and keeping a positive attitude no matter how far the light was from the end of the tunnel. But most of all, keeping a positive attitude was the key!
I hope and pray you have the same outcome.
“Hey, look at this!” I keep saying that to my friends as I show them the range of motion I now have in my right arm. I can actually use it again! Last summer I was miserable. I had a lot of pain and immobility caused by my torn rotator cuff. I kept thinking it would get better if I just babied it. No such luck.
The first doctor I went to said that the tear was so severe they would have to cut it open for the repair. That’s too invasive for me—I decided I needed another opinion. I remembered Midwest Ortho, and set up an appointment with Dr. Cole. He was so reassuring—and said they could take care of it arthroscopically. I scheduled surgery that day.
Surgery went without a hitch on November 19. I also had a bicep tendonesis in addition to the rotator cuff repair. I was diligent with my physical therapy, which I think helped the recovery process. It has been five months since my surgery, and lo and behold, I can now swing a golf club. I’m excited to be able to get out there and enjoy this summer.
Thanks Dr. Cole, Natalie, Kyle, and your entire staff. You were always available and were so quick to follow-up with any questions I had. By the way, I recommend you to everyone!
– Pat Price
I am extremely pleased with Dr. Cole and surgery. I can actually throw overhand for my dog better than before the injury. ATI Physical Therapy also contributed greatly to my recovery.
The only difficulty I have is lifting a glass to my mouth with my elbow tucked close to my body and lifting a gallon of milk straight-armed to eye level. I am certain that further PT on my part would correct that problem.
I am playing golf as well as ever. I am not driving the ball quite as far as before, but then I am not as young as before either.
In March 2010, our 16 year old son Ty was diagnosed with osteochondritis in his right elbow after many years of pitching. He lost his high school sophomore baseball season due to this injury and was referred to Dr. Brian Cole for a second corrective arthroscopic surgery. Ty’s one goal was to play high school football in the upcoming fall. After a summer of intense rehabilitation, Dr. Cole gave Ty the go-ahead to play football. Ty has had his best season yet, and was recently chosen as “Player of the Week” by the Daily Herald. Team sports are a huge part of Ty’s life and because of Dr. Cole and his team at Rush, Ty can continue to pursue his passion.
Read story in Daily Herald.
It is said you only appreciate something once it’s gone, and that’s exactly what happened to me. It was taken away from me at the age of 18, my youth, that is! That pretty much sums up the story of my life between the age of 18 up until I met Dr. Brian Cole. It became comical in a way. Most of my events were disrupted by going to the Emergency Room (of whichever city I was in at the time) to put my shoulder back in its socket. It wasn’t about the pain or the discomfort I was enduring at the time; to me all of this is bearable. It’s the fact that I couldn’t participate in the activities that I enjoyed (basketball, boxing, tennis, being a normal, irresponsible 18 year old!).
September 2009, Chicago – Dr. Cole examined my shoulder and said: “I go in from here, do this, and do that, with minimal invasion. If you don’t go back to doing whatever it is you like doing, it means I failed.” That next morning he operated on my right shoulder and then some seven months later operated on my left shoulder. After a year of rigorous training and strengthening, Dr. Cole was true to his word, my recreational life was back to normal. I could participate in any sport/activity I could think of. Only a few years ago I couldn’t reach out for the phone to change a restaurant reservation, and now eight months and counting I’ve been training boxing three times a week!
This major turning point in my life made me more appreciative; I play sports six times a week and lead a very healthy lifestyle. The latter wouldn’t have been possible had I not seen the “other” side. Only a few people get second chances. Thanks to Dr. Cole, I was one of them!
– Zeid Salfiti
My name is Kim Howatt, and I had an AMZ/ACI December 2008. I was a very active kid growing up. Any sport any time. After a collegiate softball career, I continued to play competitively, until I was unable to deal with the knee instability. At 11 months post op, I was able to hike out to view the volcanic eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii. Currently, at 20 months post op, I can bike and walk many miles pain free. I traversed the cobblestone streets of Rome and the hills of Tuscany this past summer … all pain free. I am also playing softball again. Climbing up and down stairs now is laughable. Before it was a chore. Working out is challenging and fun again. What helped make this surgery a success? A great surgeon, a great therapist, and a lot of hard work. I am a very aggressive person when I work out, and I had to learn to dial my intensity down a notch. I had to learn patience. Slow, methodical rehab wins the race. I started working out with my trainer twice per week in my brace 10 days after surgery. While the sessions were very controlled, it felt good to do something active and “normal.” I am extremely grateful for a second chance at being me. I don’t yet know how much I can achieve because I am still improving each month, but I am living a life of sport once again, thanks to Dr. Cole.
Dr. Cole performed bilateral microfracture surgery along with bilateral AMZ and ACI procedures on my knees. He and his physician’s assistants, Natalie Podboy and Kyle Pilz, have been very easy to talk to, have answered any questions that my family or I might have, and have been great people to be associated with. Prior to having surgery, I was unable to participate in sports fully but am now able to do basically all of the physical activities that I so choose. While recovering from surgery, having a positive mindset and an optimistic outlook expedites the recovery process. Being active has always taken a great part of my life as I have grown up playing, watching, and following numerous sports – most notably basketball, football, baseball, and golf – so being able to LiveActive again has given me more appreciation for being healthy and being able to participate in numerable sports.
I am thankful for Dr. Cole and his staff’s procedures that they have performed on my knees and for their assistance throughout the process.
– Adam Verhasselt
Kyle and Jeff
I just wanted to share something with you all that my Godson, Kyle Conlon, and I think is pretty cool.
We took a big family vacation to Breckenridge, CO, in June and of course we couldn’t help but enjoy all that Colorado has to offer (even though my physical therapists probably wanted me to dial it down a bit). On one of the days we did a hike up to the top of Quandary Peak, which is a mere 14,265 feet above sea level. Before making our climb, Kyle and I made a pact that if we made it to the top we’d take a picture together at the top pointing to our recent surgically repaired knees and send you a photo. The photo barely does justice to the panoramic view we had up there, but I hope you like it. We couldn’t have done it without your expertise and all the care and attention we received after the surgery.
I look forward to my follow-up visit tomorrow and hope you’re pleased with the progress!
Thanks for everything you’ve done for both Kyle and me!
– Jeff Ciecko
Your handy work on both my knees was put to great use a couple weeks ago in Park City, Utah, at the Deer Valley ski resort…
The great news is my left knee distal realignment and ACI (Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation) right knee distal realignment held up very well from the bunny hill all the way up to the black diamond runs. This is the first time in 22 years I’ve been able to downhill ski—nearly pain free. Again, many thanks, Brian. Your research and surgical skills changed the quality of my life for the better.
That’s what I was thinking as I stood in the back of the pack waiting to start the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. My longest run to date was 6 miles. I spent the summer testing my bad knee, making sure it wouldn’t blow up under the pressure of a sprint triathlon. Now I was faced with having to complete a marathon, 26.2 miles of pounding on a knee that had yet to face a quarter of that distance.
Physically, have I mentioned I am an Ironman? I knew it was going to be hard, but 6-7 hours on your feet without any training, hurts!
The Aftermath: my feet still hurt, I am hungry like a college freshman, my butt is killing me, but my knee passed the big test (thank you Dr. Brian Cole). My Garmin said I ran a little over 27 miles, which I believe.
Read David Wallach’s complete blog entry on running the Chicago Marathon.
I am a 69-year-old retired pharmaceutical rep in good health, an active person, walker, golfer, etc. I had rotator cuff day surgery on October 7, 2008, on my right shoulder. I was told that it was a serious repair. Prior to surgery, I could play golf but I couldn’t raise my arm very far in any direction without severe pain and weakness. Sleeping on my right side was difficult at best. I couldn’t carry packages or any weight.
As a result of the surgery and physical therapy, I’m 95% recovered at six months without pain. I was told full recovery would take a year. I still have some weakness as far as lifting any weight above my shoulder but it is getting stronger as I continue to exercise. I am very grateful to Dr. Cole, Kyle Pilz (who was available at all hours for consultation), John Duncombe, and my wife who was there at all times to help me.
Justin, age 17, was diagnosed with chondrolysis of his right shoulder. He suffered from incredible pain which he had endured for over a year. He was not able to use his right arm to comb his hair, put on a shirt; normal activities of daily living became a challenge. He had interrupted sleep every night from the pain he experienced. He had been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven and he was not able to participate in the sport he loved and had trained so hard for.
In November 2008, Justin had a humeral head transplant. The surgery was performed by Dr. Brian Cole and his team. We, as a family, were so confident in Dr. Cole, and knew that whatever decision he made, it was going to be the best decision for Justin. The day after surgery Justin knew that his shoulder was different.
Normal Community High School standout basketball player Kyle Dierkes returned to the court November 24, 2009, making a full comeback from a serious knee injury. Kyle, who missed all of last season with the injury, scored 12 points in limited action due to foul trouble.
A mere nine months after undergoing a meniscus and osteochondral allograft procedure on his injured right knee, Kyle has been practicing without any visible limitation or favoring of his right leg. He is still working his way back into basketball shape, but has been involved with all contact and post drills in addition to scrimmages. He is once again drawing attention from college scouts.
“It’s great to be playing on two legs instead of one,” said Kyle.
Ligament injuries to the knee are very common in sports that require stopping and starting or quickly changing directions. Marengo Community High School standout soccer player, Alexa Torman, knows this all too well, after returning to the soccer field after more than a year away.
Alexa returned to the soccer field on March, 16, 2010, after having major knee surgery on her right knee to replace her posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and lateral collateral ligaments (LCL).
During Alexa’s comeback season, she scored 21 goals and dished out 8 assists. She has participated in all drills and games and has played around 70 minutes per game. She scored in 13 consecutive matches tying her for 5th on the IHSA all time record list. She was a unanimous all-conference selection.
Her father, Don Torman, credits her success to all of the hard work she has done and the dedication of Dr. Brian Cole and physician assistant, Kyle Pilz.
The Brian Cole MD Knee Guide and Shoulder Guide are your own personalized injury APP's for your pocket. These APP's provide users with detailed information, treatment and identification of the most common injuries.