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Injuries Slow Us Down, but Shouldn’t Hold Us Back: Dr. Joseph Rotella’s Story

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Dr. Rotella with his daughter enjoying their shared passion for horses.

When Joseph Rotella, M.D., D.C., a full-time family physician, chiropractor and owner of Scottsdale Medical Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, twisted and turned his right knee playing soccer and heard an explosive pop, he knew he might be in trouble.

Days later his radiologist delivered the news, “There’s a lot of pathology here,” he said. Translation? Dr. Rotella had a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), torn meniscus, sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and tibial fractures. Surgery was unavoidable.

As an avid athlete, Dr. Rotella was not looking forward to surgery, but he knew it was necessary to repair, recover and get back as quickly as possible to the active lifestyle he enjoyed.

“As a physician, I refer patients to various orthopedics, and I get to see all the follow up care. Results matter, and Dr. Brian Gruber’s patient base does very well. The patients I have referred to him are all back playing sports and being their active selves after surgery and physical therapy,” said Dr. Rotella. “For my own care, I didn’t hesitate to call Dr. Gruber when I needed surgery.”

Dr. Rotella said the day of surgery went well and he could not have asked for more. He went home with an ice machine, and a couple days later got a call from Dr. Gruber. He shared with him that he was doing well and was walking on crutches. He’d had a couple cramps in his knee, but the swelling was down, he had started physical therapy and was slowing progressing to working out again.

Fast-forward nine months post-surgery: Dr. Rotella has finished a Spartan Super 8+ miles with 29 obstacles in excellent timing. As far as his injured knee, he said, “Like it never happened.”

“I am thankful for Dr. Gruber as I know he treats all his patients like pro athletes. He has an outstanding bedside manner, is knowledgeable and his staff is excellent,” said Dr. Rotella.

Just before surgery, Dr. Rotella was watching the movie Secretariat with his daughter, who is a regional Arabian horse champion and who he shares a love of horses with. This line from the movie jumped out at him:

“This is not about going back. This is about life being ahead of you and you run at it! Because you never know how far you can run unless you run.”

“People love to live their lives,” said Dr. Rotella. “Injuries slow us down, but shouldn’t hold us back.