First, son Bradlee suffered a shoulder injury while playing football as a sophomore at Harper Creek High School near Battle Creek. A year later his step-mom, Shannon, damaged her knee while snowboarding.
Fortunately, they found Dr. Uggen, an orthopedic surgeon with Kalamazoo Orthopaedic Clinic.
"He's one of the best," Shannon said of Dr. Uggen. "When we first saw him for Bradlee's injury he looked Bradlee in the eye and talked directly to him, not to us. That's who he should be talking to. He's really personable, down to earth.”
"Both he and his nurse obviously care for their patients. If I had 100 questions, he would answer them all."
Bradlee also liked the fact that Dr. Uggen had previously treated professional athletes like the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers.
"He made me feel comfortable and he made everything understandable," Bradlee said.
The Dalek family’s relationship with Dr. Uggen started in October 2008 when Bradlee was playing a scrimmage game against the varsity football team. Bradlee was a safety, the player who defends against the long pass and works to make tackles well past the line of scrimmage. At one point, Bradlee made a high-speed, one arm tackle of a running back and felt a “pop” in his shoulder. "I knew immediately that I had hurt my shoulder," he said. "It was like a half dislocation. The trainer thought it was only a strain."
Pain persisted, however, and on the advice of a friend who is a physical therapist, the Daleks made an appointment with Dr. Uggen. They tried non-operative management initially with physical therapy directed at strengthening his shoulder, but it provided only minimal benefit. In March 2009, Dr. Uggen performed arthroscopic surgery on Bradlee's left shoulder to repair his torn labrum, the “washer” of tissue which serves to stabilize the ball and socket joint.
Instead of using the traditional open technique, requiring an eight centimeter incision and prolonged recovery, Dr. Uggen used a small video camera and three tiny poke holes to perform the entire repair. Dr. Uggen prefers the arthroscopic technique because “it allows better visualization of the entire shoulder joint so all of the problems can be fixed. It is also much less painful for the patient.”
Bradlee said, “Dr. Uggen found that the labrum was torn front and back and he used stitches to make the repair. I'm almost 100% now.”
The shoulder surgery hasn't slowed Bradlee down a bit. He fully intends to continue playing football, running track, and pursuing his real love: Snowboarding.
It was that fondness for snowboarding that led the Daleks to their next visit to Dr. Uggen's office.
In February 2009, the family was in northern Michigan snowboarding when Shannon, the senior Executive Secretary to the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at the Kellogg Co., launched herself over a mound and, when she landed, heard a loud pop in her knee. "I thought at first that I had broken my knee, the pop was so loud," she said.
Bradlee, who was video-tapping the family outing, went to his step-mom and knew right away that she was hurt. "Her knee was unstable," he said.
The family called for the Ski Patrol whose members carefully took Shannon to the lodge -- with Bradlee recording the whole process on video tape. "I thought she might want the video to remind her later," he said, smiling.
"The Ski Patrol people thought that I had torn my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament)," said Shannon. The ACL is one of four major knee ligaments and is critical to knee stability.
Shannon said she opted to wait to get home before seeking medical attention at the Kalamazoo Orthopaedic Clinic. An MRI ordered by Dr. Uggen confirmed the ACL tear and she immediately started a physical therapy program to strengthen the knee. By summer, however, the knee was still unstable and it was clear that she needed surgery.
"Dr. Uggen reconstructed my ACL and removed a small amount of torn meniscus," Shannon said. "He replaced my ACL with a cadaver tendon. It was kind of cool."
Similar to Bradlee’s surgery, Dr. Uggen performed Shannon’s ACL reconstruction arthroscopically, using a video camera and tiny incisions instead of the traditional open technique. Shannon was able to walk out of the hospital using crutches the same day of her procedure.
Like Bradlee, Shannon hasn't let the injury stop her from snowboarding. “The first time back on the slopes, I was a bit scared," she said, "but I'm 95% now, and I have no restrictions other than a brace while playing sports.”
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