After a his semi-truck overturned on black ice in December 2007, classically trained violinist Ken Wollberg had his left triceps muscle detached and bone scraped away. He didn’t know if he could ever play again.
Ida Fox, MD, Washington University plastic and reconstructive surgeon, performed a skin graft to cover the outside of the wound after orthopedic surgeries, also performed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, repaired the inner damage. A second operation last July released scar tissue and improved flexibility in the elbow.
On the injury
I didn’t realize at the time how serious the injury was. There was actually very little pain even in the beginning. But when I first tried playing, it was frustrating. I couldn’t even reach past the first string.
The recovery was difficult, but little by little I worked back. You’d almost never know by the way it looks today. I am so thankful for the skills of Dr. Fox and all the talented doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and staff at Barnes-Jewish. It was a great experience being taken care of by all those folks.
On playing again
It feels great. I’m still a little weak, but being able to play is great motivation and therapy for me.
Ida Fox, MD
On the surgery
In Mr. Wollberg’s case, he had a pretty significant injury and was quite stiff. I took normal tissue from his wrist and draped it over the elbow wound to cover the exposed bone and tendon repair. I then took a skin graft from the leg to cover the wrist. We often use tissue from all over the body to cover wounds, repair defects, and improve the appearance and function.
On restoring his motion
I always ask patients with arm and leg injuries what hobbies they have because it helps me figure out what will best fit their needs. Mr. Wollberg tried other job opportunities, but he told me his real job and love was the violin.
I'm so pleased we could restore his passion and things turned out so well. It’s an honor to hear him play again.