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By Susan J. White
The instant Michael Gallagher slipped and fell on an icy driveway, he knew something was seriously wrong. His quadricep tendon was ruptured and his kneecap was no longer where it should be.
“My first thought was this is not good and my second thought was will I be able to run again,” recalled the 65-year-old Gallagher, who has enjoyed competitive running since his college days.
While Gallagher doesn’t remember how he got back to his house from the end of the driveway, he does recall calling the office of orthopaedic surgeon Mark Bowen, MD, a few minutes later and heading to the walk-in clinic at the NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute at Skokie Hospital.
Dr. Bowen had surgically repaired Gallagher’s rotator cuff in 2019. “My shoulder is phenomenal now, better than it ever was and I have full confidence in Dr. Bowen,” he said. Gallagher had an MRI that confirmed the ruptured tendon diagnosis and spoke with Dr. Bowen the next day.
“I knew I was in good hands with Dr. Bowen, and I started to feel more comfortable as he described what happened and how he would fix it,” said Gallagher. “I had no doubt that it would get better.”
His confidence was well-placed: a year after his surgery he was back to running, cycling and weight training, and hitting the same paces he hit before the injury.
Gallagher had surgery in March 2022 for what Dr. Bowen describes as a fairly common injury that typically happens after a slip or a fall. Drilling lengthwise holes into the kneecap, Dr. Bowen stitched the tendon back to the kneecap in an outpatient procedure. He credits Gallagher’s hard work with experienced physical therapist Orah Peer, PT, DPT, for his full recovery.
Dr. Bowen has performed this surgery on professional athletes and said patients who are dedicated to their rehabilitation should experience a full recovery. “One of the benefits of NorthShore’s Orthopaedic & Spine Institute is getting patients in quickly and connecting them promptly to the right treatment,” said Dr. Bowen.
Gallagher, who had run 8 miles the morning of his accident and was already planning his race season, was committed to getting back to full strength and enjoyed working with Peer as a way to get back to the activities he loves.
“Working with Orah was outstanding. I like the interface between Dr. Bowen and her, and all the positive reinforcement along the way,” said Gallagher. “It was a long road back, but there was a clear road map and I had confidence with the NorthShore team that I would have the best possible outcome.”
Recovery began with a full lock-out brace for 10 weeks to ensure proper healing before beginning strength work. Gallagher was not able to run for six months, and when the time came to return to his favorite sport, he followed a well-designed progressive plan. “Orah knew where I wanted to go and she understood I was willing to work hard to get there.”
Gallagher is looking forward to getting back into racing this summer. “I don’t think about my knee at all, there is no pain, no hesitation whether I am chasing after my grandkids or running with my sons. I’m still competitive and, as I age, I want to continue to be as active as I can.”
“Dr. Bowen is so outstanding in his care, his nurse Ashley is always a pleasure to work with. I feel so fortunate that Dr. Bowen and his team provided my care,” said Gallagher.
The team of experts at NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute offers world-class options close by to help you feel like yourself again. We use innovative, minimally invasive techniques for joint replacement, complex spine surgeries, sports medicine and more, so you can get back to the activities you enjoy sooner. Learn more.