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Sam's Knee Surgery

by Sam Buck

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South Williamsport’s senior offensive guard Sam Buck helped take his team to the state semifinal playoffs and earned a spot on the 2014 Pennsylvania Football Writers’ All-State Team. Watching him play, you’d never suspect that a major ligament in his left knee was surgically reconstructed 10 months earlier. It was the 10th play of the third game in the 2013 football season. Sam planted his left foot, pulled to the right and felt everything in his knee “give out.”

Stan Smith, ATC, the school’s athletic trainer and part of Susquehanna Health’s regional network of school athletic trainers, stabilized Sam’s knee in an air cast and arranged for him to meet with Dr. Patrick Carey that same weekend.

An MRI and an X-ray revealed damage to the main ligaments in Sam’s knee, the anterior cruciate (ACL) and the medial collateral (MCL). His meniscus was also torn. Meeting with Sam and his parents, Dr. Carey advised that if Sam wanted to play football his senior year, he should have surgery to repair the ACL as soon as possible.

“Dr. Carey was great. He told me everything he was going to do and what I was going to have to go through,” says Sam. “He replaced my ACL and shaved down my meniscus but said it would be best to let my MCL heal on its own. I knew I had a long way to go.”

Missing just a week from school for his surgery, Sam’s rehabilitation began the next week at Susquehanna Health’s Rehabilitation Services at Little River Plaza on River Avenue. Sam worked with Bonnie Dodge, who had helped his mother and father through their knee rehabilitations years before. “Bonnie was great. She wasn’t easy on me, but I believe if she hadn’t pushed me, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I did with my recovery,” says Sam.

After five or six months, Sam began working in sessions with Stan at school. Though his recovery was gradual, Sam said it was encouraging to set and meet small goals. Eventually he began working solely with his trainer and coaching staff and checking in with Seth Kinley, MEd, ATC, manager of Sports Medicine at Susquehanna Health’s Sports Medicine Clinic. After nine and a half months, he was ready to play. “I felt like I didn’t have to go through this alone. A lot of people were helping me through the recovery process and it made me feel pretty good,” says Sam, noting that Dr. Carey even attended a few games. “My injury made me want to play even more this year. I put the time in and did everything they told me to do, and the results are great.”

– Sam Buck, South Williamsport, PA