Submitted by ORA Orthopedics
Summer in the QC means the ball diamonds are in full swing, and along with seasonal play comes the prospect of injuries for both weekend and elite athletes. One such career player is Samantha Miner, Silvis, IL, a recent UT Panther graduate who is back at bat this summer after an injury almost sidelined her college scholarship plans.
“I’ve loved playing since I was four years old,” says Samantha, who not only played for UT, but also the Rock River Sluggers travel team, which made it to State and Nationals in 2016.
It was at State where Samantha dove for a ball that nearly ended her college softball plans. “I landed wrong, my arm was all the way out, and I couldn’t move. My shoulder popped and I knew something wasn’t quite right.”
Samantha continued to play through the pain, even batting left-handed at Nationals, until her father made a call that likely saved her career. “It was definitely a hard decision sitting her down,” said Kent Miner, who has both watched and coached his daughter since her first days in elementary school.
After her pain persisted, she turned to Sports Medicine Surgeon, Dr. Waqas Hussain, ORA Orthopedics. “She’s a dedicated athlete. She felt a tearing and pop. When I saw her, she couldn’t bring her arm up to her shoulder.” An MRI showed a torn bicep tendon. “She’s an elite athlete with college goals, so we talked about different options for treatment. In her case, it was crucial for her to return to play so the college scouts could measure her performance.”
To put Samantha back on the field, Dr. Hussain performed a minimally invasive procedure called a shoulder arthroscopy. “I made a small incision in her armpit to stitch her tendon back in place. I drilled a small hole in her bone, tucked her tendon in the hole and used a metal fastener called a ‘bicep button’ to secure the suture to the bone. It’s a technique I learned at the Cleveland Clinic for Sports Medicine.”
Samantha’s motivation to preserve her softball career helped fuel her drive in rehabilitation. She spent six weeks in a shoulder sling, followed by months of physical therapy. Now she’s back in the game, reflecting on how important it was for her to seek treatment. “I’m just glad my dad made the call and we got it checked out instead of trying to continue to play through it — because I really couldn’t. I probably would be done right now,” she said.
Although Dr. Hussain sympathizes with parents who are conflicted about sidelining a prodigy, he says their child’s health and sports career may depend on it. “Parents need to monitor the kids more than the kids are monitoring themselves. Many players cannot assess the extent of their injuries. They don’t want to complain.
“Many times, players and their families tell us they wish they would have seen ORA sooner. For Sam, she had the insight to know that something wasn’t quite right.”
Miner credits her family’s decision to seek medical help with saving her career. Nearly a year later, she is on the field again and making plans to play in college, after landing a scholarship at Spoon River College, Canton, IL.
While Samantha’s future is a bright one, Dr. Hussain cautions other parents to be aware that a “no pain, no gain” attitude can have serious consequences. “A ball player’s arm is prone to overuse, and a painful throwing arm or shoulder is never normal. If you or your child has persistent pain that is not getting better, stop and rest. If despite rest, the pain persists, confer with a sports medicine specialist for further evaluation.”
For more information on ORA Orthopedics’ Sports Medicine Center of Excellence, as well as information on preventing athletic injuries, log on to www.qcora.com or follow ORA on Facebook.