New Grandpa Gary Kovar Can Now Toss A Football and Throw Grandchildren in the Air Thanks to Shoulder Surgery Performed by Orthopedic Doctor Bruce Steinberg

In January of 2012, Dr. Bruce Steinberg performed a complicated shoulder surgery on Mr. Gary Kovar. The surgery was particularly complex because it involved a latissimus dorsi rotation flap transfer, which is essentially transplanting a portion of muscle from Mr. Kovar’s trunk to repair the massive tearing of his shoulder muscles. Following are Mr. Kovar’s words about his experience.

I had a full tear of my shoulder cuff. I did have a reasonable range of motion but I was unable to lift anything that weighed more than one pound above my shoulder. I could not throw a football. I am a fairly new grandpa and I am so proud of my three grandsons: an active 11-year old, an always on the go 2-year old and a one year old who likes it best when he is being held. Fortunately, I was able to hold the younger grandsons on my good side, my left side; yet, I couldn’t toss them in the air, or lift them above my shoulder. There were many times where I just watched the older grandson play catch with his dad knowing I couldn’t throw the football. I couldn’t swing a golf club.

The loss of strength was hard…I remember being on vacation with my wife and we were staying at a nice hotel with the amenities such as a nice, terry cloth robe hanging on hanger on the bathroom door. I went to lift it with my right arm (side with torn rotator cuff) and I could not lift it. I had no problem lifting with my left arm. I couldn’t lift a robe… Any home repair job that required holding something above my head I could not do. I couldn’t use a paint roller if I had to extend above my shoulder.

I have three brothers and no sisters. Early on our mother taught us how to do all of the inside chores: washing clothes, vacuuming, cleaning, cooking, sewing and even how to iron. In fact, I prefer to iron my own shirts. When I was done ironing and after the iron had cooled I could not put it away if I used my right arm because it required lifting the iron up above my shoulder. I didn’t have the strength to lift an iron.

There was intense pain when I slept on my stomach or on the injured shoulder side of my body, which meant I did not have a restful night. 

Upon examination and testing, Dr. Steinberg diagnosed Mr. Kovar with complete tearing of the right side supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons (the rotator cuff) with marked retraction and atrophy. Mr. Kovar originally was sent to Dr. Steinberg by another orthpaedic surgeon who identified the non-repairable rotator cuff tear. Dr. Steinberg, assisted by Dr. Philip Hardy, performed a right shoulder arthroscopy with subacromial decompression, latissimus dorsi rotation flap transfer with repair of the rotator cuff. More from Mr. Kovar about his life post-surgery:

I can toss the football and I can toss grandchildren in the air. No problem in putting the iron away, either. I am back to being able to do home improvement work and I recently painted two rooms. I am so well pleased by my strength and my full range of motion. In fact, I have started to work on my golf swing.

It is now nearly 10 months after the surgery and the healing has come along just fine. It is important to work hard on your pre-operation physical therapy exercises so your body is better prepared for the healing. A must do is the post operation physical therapy. Because I worked hard my shoulder has healed very well.

Although I still have moments when I sleep where there is pain it is because I have slept wrong, which I understand is due to the ongoing healing with the shoulder being susceptible to aggravation. The good news is there are more nights when I am getting a good restful night of sleep.

When asked about how Mr. Kovar feels about the treatment he received by Dr. Steinberg, he responds as follows.

How does one say thank you for providing the treatment, the procedure that totally eliminated 12-14 years of pain before I would have been old enough to qualify for a full-shoulder replacement with an artificial shoulder?

How does one say thank you for giving me my arm back?

Each time I lift a grandchild or throw a football to a grandson my feeling is one of “Thank you, Dr. Steinberg!”

When asked about Dr. Steinberg’s strengths, and whether or not he would recommend Dr. Steinberg to others, Mr. Kovar shares:

I see three strengths — (1) wisdom (knowledge, experience, training, understanding); (2) compassion (listens, consideration, care for patient); and, (3) faith.

He can be fully trusted with your shoulder surgery. His gift is doing the surgery that can give you back the use of your shoulder.

Everyone I tell about my shoulder surgery – latissimus dorsi muscle and tendon transfer — I always tell them it only happened because Dr. Bruce Steinberg is a brilliant orthopaedic surgeon.

Dr. Steinberg is pleased to be able to offer the latissimus dorsi rotation flap transfer option to his patients. He is the only physician in the region with the proven expertise and experience to do so. 

– Mr. Gary Kovar