After two knee surgeries, and over a year of recovery, local freestyle skier Andrew Draper is ready to hit the slopes.
One of the benefits of growing up in the northwest is the abundance of outdoor activities. For ski enthusiasts like Post Falls native Andrew Draper, our proximity to several major ski hills shaped his way of life.
As a self-proclaimed ski bum, Andrew spent a good amount of his time up on the slopes of Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Eventually he worked his way into the competitive ski scene, competing locally and internationally.
Unfortunately, Andrew’s competitive skiing was put on hold after injuring his right knee in 2011.
“My biggest fear was not being able to ski again,” he said. “Luckily Dr. King felt confident about my procedure which definitely made me feel better.”
Andrew tore his right ACL (a ligament used to stabilize the knee) just shortly after competing in the Big Mountain Challenge in Lake Tahoe. While his injury is common in athletes, the stakes are always greater when dealing with high-level athletes.
“For me, the biggest challenge is being able to meet the expectations of my patients and to get them back to their original performance levels,” said Jonathan King, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopaedic Associates of Coeur d’Alene. “I see a lot of people with sports injuries so ACL reconstruction is a fairly standard procedure.”
Dr. King performed arthroscopic surgery to reconstruct Andrew’s ACL. The goal of the surgery was to restore normal stability and function to his knee, allowing Andrew to return to skiing in about a year.
“It took at least six months before I finally started getting some lateral movement back,” Andrew said. “It took me a full year to get back to skiing, but I think it’s a full two-year recovery when you add in the mental aspect. I was so afraid of reinjuring my knee.”
While Andrew did a great job following his rehabilitation instructions and easing back into the ski scene, just two years after his first surgery he was back in Dr. King’s office. This time, for surgery on his left knee.
“Younger athletes tend to push the limits of their bodies,” Dr. King said. “Because of this, we do see a high volume of ACL tears, shoulder injuries and other common sports-related injuries.”
At just 24 years old, Andrew had his second successful ACL reconstruction with Dr. King and headed back down the long road of rehabilitation and physical therapy.
“I used part of the patella tendon to repair Andrew’s ACL,” Dr. King explained. “I’ve had excellent results using this graft on high level athletes. Andrew is a testament to that. He’ll definitely be pushing the replacement to the limits – most of my ACL patients aren’t jumping off 50-foot cliffs.”
What is Andrew’s best tip for having a successful surgery? Find the right physician and give it time.
“I know so many other athletes that had surgery and tried to do too much too soon,” he said. “It’s important to listen to your doctor and take the recovery process seriously. It isn’t six months and you’re back to your old self, it really is a one or two year process.”
Andrew will be spending this winter up at Schweitzer and traveling up to Canada, still treading lightly on his repaired ACL.
“I’m just really excited to be able to do what I love,” he said. “I’m so grateful for the care I received from Dr. King and his team.”
For more information about procedures performed by Orthopaedic Associates of Coeur d’Alene, call (208) 667-7459 or visit them online at cdaortho.com.