Patient Stories

Stay in the Game: Professional Soccer Player Back on the Field, Thanks to Skilled Surgeon and Arthrex Innovation

Arthrex, Inc.

For a professional soccer player, Willie Spurr is already in a rare league. At 29 years old, he’s playing just his third season as a professional. 

“Many players peak in their mid-twenties because of the physical demands of this sport,” he said. “I’ve already been playing longer than anyone I grew up playing with.” 

Last year, he also had to overcome a serious knee injury that would have left many players permanently on the sidelines. 

“I saw my injury on the live stream from a lot of different angles, unfortunately,” Willie said. “I had a contested shootout with the goalie and my knee was fully hyperextended when his foot struck my knee hard. I wasn’t sure I’d ever play at the professional level again.” 

Willie turned to Jim C. Hsu, MD (Yale School of Medicine, Greenwich/New Haven, CT), for evaluation and surgical treatment. 

“Willie came to me with significant knee instability and dysfunction as a result of the complete midsubstance tear of his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which provides important stability to the knee. Not only that, but he also had a highly damaging meniscal root tear,” Dr. Hsu said. “Either one can be a devastating injury, especially for a professional athlete, and Willie had both.” 

Dr. Hsu created a new, custom repair technique for Willie’s midsubstance PCL tear using two opposing ACL Repair TightRope® implants with FiberRing™ sutures to reconnect his torn PCL. Dr. Hsu then used the InternalBrace™ technique to provide additional support to the ligament during the healing process. This combination allowed Dr. Hsu to repair the PCL tear at the center of Willie’s knee entirely with arthroscopy. The approach also preserved the PCL’s blood supply to maximize healing potential and reduced the risk of complications associated with an open surgery. Dr. Hsu’s new technique is also less invasive because it preserved Willie’s own PCL tissue rather than replacing it with a graft. 

Dr. Hsu repaired the meniscal root tear using two FiberLink™ sutures that he secured using a 4.75mm SwiveLock® anchor. 

Arthrex, Inc. 

Stabilizing the knee was essential to allow the repaired meniscus tear to heal. “If we had not addressed the PCL tear and the instability, the repaired meniscus would likely tear again, and other vital structures like joint cartilage would continue to be at risk for degeneration,” Dr. Hsu said. “With my surgical experience using many of the implants and sutures provided by Arthrex, I knew I could be creative and use well-proven products and techniques in a unique, customized way to best repair Willie’s midsubstance PCL tear. The surgery went very well, and Willie’s recovery has been exceptional thanks to his incredible work ethic.” 

After spending six months in focused rehabilitation, Willie regained and surpassed his preinjury strength, fitness and mobility. 

“I train every day on technical skills and fitness. I also work with physical therapy,” he said. “I think I’m playing better now than I did before the injury.” 

In fact, Willie plays so well that he signed on with the Tacoma Stars after being pursued by multiple professional soccer teams. 

“I have surpassed my expectations already, and I’m still improving,” Willie said. “People who saw my injury were surprised that I was able to come back and perform so well.” 

For Dr. Hsu, outcomes like Willie’s are what keep him striving every day to help athletes return to what they love. “This is the most rewarding part of what I do,” he said. 

“No other company offers anything similar to what Willie needed for his best surgical care,” Dr. Hsu said. “Combining my experience with the great variety of techniques and highest-quality medical devices Arthrex provides, I feel confident in my ability to offer the best personalized care for my patients.” 

Arthrex, Inc. 

The InternalBrace surgical technique is intended only to augment the primary repair/reconstruction by expanding the area of tissue approximation during the healing period and is not intended as a replacement for the native ligament. The InternalBrace technique is for use during soft tissue-to-bone fixation procedures and is not cleared for bone-to-bone fixation.
This is not medical advice and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by a surgeon or other qualified medical professional on the use of these products. You should talk with your physician or health care provider for more information about your health condition and whether Arthrex products might be appropriate for you. The surgeon who performs any surgical procedure is responsible for determining and using the appropriate techniques for surgical procedures on each individual patient. Arthrex recommends that surgeons be trained on the use of any particular product before using it in surgery. A surgeon must always rely on their own professional medical judgment when deciding whether to use a particular product when treating a particular patient. A surgeon must always refer to the package insert, product label, and/or directions for use before using any Arthrex product. Postoperative management is patient-specific and dependent on the treating professional’s assessment. Individual results will vary and not all patients will experience the same postoperative activity level or outcomes. Products may not be available in all markets because product availability is subject to the regulatory approvals and medical practices in individual markets. Please contact Arthrex if you have questions about the availability of products in your area.
This real patient was compensated for sharing his actual experience with Arthrex. Physicians are paid consultants of Arthrex.