‘I’m able to get back out there and be a dad again’
In roughly three weeks the University of Idaho Vandals were to take the field at Beaver Stadium against the nation’s 15th ranked team, the Penn State Nittany Lions, and in front of more than 100,000 rabid fans.
And University of Idaho Director of Athletic Training Services Chris Walsh was headed to the Emergency Department at Gritman Medical Center after taking a hard fall on campus and injuring his left shoulder.
“It was about the busiest time of the year for us,” Chris said. “Horrible timing.”
Chris, who also serves as co-chair of the Big Sky Conference Health and Safety Committee, was no stranger to Gritman, having accompanied dozens of student-athletes to the hospital for treatment of illnesses, concussions, injuries and other conditions. Bad timing it was, but he knew he was in good hands.
“The staff has always taken care of our student-athletes really well, so I had a lot of confidence going over there,” Chris said. “We do have a good amount of students having surgery at Gritman, but until you are the patient you never fully appreciate it. It was a great experience.”
Chris was promptly taken in for X-rays, which confirmed his suspicions – he had dislocated his shoulder. After having his shoulder put back in place, Chris was referred to Dr. Steven Pennington of Inland Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Pennington also serves as a team physician and team surgeon for Vandal Athletics, so the two were well acquainted.
“Dr. Pennington is a pro at what he does,” Chris said.“Almost every surgery (our student-athletes) have had has gone through him. I have 100% confidence in him. I have seen what he has done for our athletes – I trust him.”
Dr. Pennington ordered a computerized tomography (CT) scan for Chris through Gritman Diagnostic Imaging. The results showed Chris hadn’t just separated his shoulder, he had also fractured his glenoid bone and surgery would be needed.
“He was able to get me into surgery (less than a week after the injury), which was an awesome turnaround,” Chris said.
While the surgery – which was performed in one of Gritman’s state-of-the-art operating rooms – was more complicated than most, it was a success.
“It was a difficult surgery, so I am glad we were at Gritman. The staff was awesome; the anesthesia team and the nurses were great,” Chris said. “Everything went smooth.”
Despite the severity of his injury, Chris was quickly back at work — and he was even allowed to travel with his team to Penn State.
“I got my sling off right before the first game of the season against Penn State,” Chris said. “It was a good recovery and it went quicker than I thought it would. I think that was because the surgery went so well.”
Chris is grateful for the care he received from Dr. Pennington and at Gritman. Not only was he back to work in no time, the quick recovery meant he didn’t miss out on what is most important – time with his family.
“I am a family guy. Just being able to get back out there and be a dad again, do things like play catch, you can’t do that with a bum shoulder,” he said. “Just to know that I am able to go back to a normal life again has been really good.”
About Inland Orthopaedic Surgery
Since 1990, Inland Orthopaedic Surgery has been providing the region with a wide range of orthopedic services. Its surgeons are certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Gritman’s surgical team works with your primary care physician and surgeon to coordinate your care. We are ready to help you have a successful surgery and quickly get on the path to recovery and healing. From our highly-skilled and compassionate staff, advanced technology and our integrated services like physical therapy, you can be comfortable knowing you are in the best hands. Learn more about our Surgery Department and Gritman Therapy Solutions.