Kenny Clark: ACL Tear Patient Story

The Challenge: Football Injury

Under the Friday night lights, Kenny Clark was playing tight end for the Greensburg Salem Golden Lions.

As he lined up for a play, what happened would lead to a series of events that would soon inspire a career.

“After the ball was snapped, I went to step in front of my left leg with my right foot, but I was grabbed by an opponent and when I went to step forward and my left leg was still planted in the ground. I then fell to the side of my knee and I could immediately feel my knee tear,” he said.

While on the field, the football team doctor and UPMC Sports Medicine athletic trainer, Mike States ran out to Kenny to determine the extent of his injury. A

A Lachman test revealed the ACL ligament to be loose, an indication that Kenny would need surgery.

The Path to UPMC: ACL and MCL Tears

Kenny had always wanted to pursue a career in medicine. 

When he heard about a research study for patients with ACL tears, he contacted Volker Musahl, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and Medical Director at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Kenny was hoping his injury could be a part of the study.

When Kenny met with Dr. Musahl, he underwent imaging tests and an MRI to determine the extent of his injury.

Kenny had not only torn his ACL, but also tore his MCL and meniscus when he fell. This meant he would not be eligible for the study.

Regardless of being available for the study, Kenny was pleased to still have Dr. Musahl as his orthopaedic surgeon, “I wasn’t able to apart of the study but I ended up having a phenomenal doctor,” he said.

The Solution: Surgery

Following surgery, Kenny wore a brace and use crutches for two months. Within two weeks after surgery he began physical therapy at a rehabilitation center close to home.

He attended physical therapy two to three times a week to work on regaining strength in his left knee. He also slowly reintroduced himself to cutting and agility exercises to help prepare himself for his senior year of football the following fall.

While at school he also worked with UPMC Sports Medicine athletic trainer Mike States on exercises that would help Kenny rehabilitate from his injury.

Nearly a year after Kenny had injured his knee, it would appear that déjà vu would put Kenny back in a similar situation.

“I was once again in a game playing tight end and when the ball was snapped, I went to block an opponent, and he ended up pushing against my right leg. Right away I knew it happened again, I was in so much pain.”

Four days after his injury, Kenny had an appointment at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex with Dr. Musahl to examine his latest injury. Imaging tests showed that Kenny had torn his ACL, MCL, PC, meniscus and knee cap. Due to the severity of Kenny’s MCL injury, Dr. Musahl scheduled Kenny that Friday for surgery to repair his MCL.

Two months later he would then have surgery on his torn ACL in his right knee.

“Before my surgeries on my right knee, Dr. Musahl took the time to really explain to me the procedures for both ACL and MCL surgery. While I may have not completely known everything that was happening, he took the time to help me understand what he was going to do to help me,” he said.

Kenny was required to wear a brace and use crutches for three months compared to the two months he had previously done for his first ACL injury.

The Recovery: Present Day

Four years since his second knee injury, Kenny a recent graduate of Washington and Jefferson College is now pursuing a career in medicine.

He is specifically focusing on orthopaedics after shadowing and interning at UPMC Sports Medicine.

His experience with Dr. Musahl and UPMC Sports Medicine has not only provided him the opportunity to heal from significant sports related injuries but it has provided him the knowledge and experience in wanting to pursue a career in orthopaedic surgery.

Looking back on his experience both his injuries and internship at UPMC Sports Medicine, Kenny had this to say:

“At UPMC Sports Medicine, you are going to get top of the line care. It’s going to be a full experience you are not going to regret at all with everyone that works there. The surgeons, physician assistants and physical therapists are all phenomenal in providing top notch care.”