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An Unexpected Accident and Surgery Lead to a Career Interest in Orthopedics

During a game of basketball in February 2015, Joseph Hancock landed the wrong way on a rebound and felt a huge pop in his knee. Hoping the condition would resolve itself, he waited it out for a few days. When his knee swelled immensely and he could no longer bend or extend it normally, along with a lot of pain, he knew he needed to see a doctor.

Joseph – a student and resident of Peoria who has lived in Arizona for 17 years with his family, including three siblings – was referred by a friend to Brian Gruber, MD, MBA.

After examination and tests, Joseph’s diagnosis was clear – a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) along with a partial Meniscus tear.

While Dr. Gruber favors conservative treatment when possible, in Joseph’s case surgery coupled with physical therapy was the best and recommended option.

“Dr. Gruber expressed the importance of building strength and flexibility for the knee to heal properly and recommended that I not play sports for a full year post-surgery,” said Joseph.

As someone who loves to play sports, especially basketball, Joseph said taking time off sports was hard, but he was committed to healing. He shared that he’d rather take the time to have surgery and heal, than not move forward with surgery and face the possibility of never playing basketball again, which is said would “be crushing.”

The timing of Joseph’s injury was unfortunate as well. He was planning a two-year church mission trip in Mexico – a trip he’d planned to do for several years and was very much looking forward to starting.

Joseph was concerned about his ability to have the surgery and heal in time to start his mission trip, which was just three months away. He was also concerned about being able to walk miles each day, which the trip would require. He worried he might have to suspend his trip – another crushing blow for him.

“I was hoping to be able to go my whole two years on the mission trip without having to return to the U.S. due to complications with my knee,” said Joseph. “I also very much wanted to play sports again to the physicality and aggressiveness that I did prior to the accident.”

Joseph was able to complete his two-year mission trip without any complications. He shared that his accident and possible impact on his future and plans was very difficult for him. “I give credit to Dr. Gruber and the skills that he has,” he added.

Joseph shared that during his mission trip in Mexico, due to circumstances and access to medical care, he saw many people with crippled knees and joints. “I realized how fortunate I was to work with Dr. Gruber and Integrated Orthopedics and have access to fast, effective and expert care, which is not so readily available to those in other countries.”

Joseph had always had an interest in medicine, but after his surgery and working with Dr. Gruber, he is heavily leaning toward pursuing a career in orthopedics. As a first step, Joseph spent time shadowing Dr. Gruber in the Integrated Orthopedics’ clinic this summer before he left for college.

When asked what he liked best about Integrated Orthopedics, Joseph said, “I was very impressed with the attitude and professionalism of the practice.” He added that he truly felt seen and cared for as an individual person. “I was not just a medical problem. Dr. Gruber and the entire team really understood my concerns throughout the entire process.”

Joseph said the top three qualities Dr. Gruber displays are:

  • Attentiveness to his patients
  • Organized and responsible
  • Optimistic and friendly

He shared that the Integrated Orthopedics’ team is top-notch and their top three qualities are:

  • Expertise in their field
  • Sensitivity and concern for patients
  • Always going the extra mile with patient care

Joseph is now off at college pursuing courses toward a career in medicine.