Clavicle ORIF Surgery Helps 20-Year-Old Cyclist Heal Before the Little 500

joshua during bicycle race, after having had clavicle ORIF surgery

Spring break for college students often means taking trips for fun in the sun, but that wasn’t the plan for one hardworking elite student-athlete. This year, Josh H., a 20-year-old IU student, spent mid-March training on a track for his second Little 500 race—until he took a nasty fall and broke his collarbone, requiring clavicle ORIF surgery to help him heal.

This is his story.

Josh H.’s patient story

Hometown: Selma, IN
Age: 20

When Practice Makes ... Problems

I’m a Little 500 rider. That’s how I got into cycling.

I spent my spring break training on the track this March with my team. We were practicing for a qualification event. You get your four fastest riders to do four laps. The person with the fastest time gets the best starting spot in the race.

During one practice over vacation, I was going for a hot lap when I stood up to put the power down. That’s when my bike’s right hub locked up, followed by its right wheel.

I crashed hard. Really hard.

In the wreck, all my weight fell on my right shoulder, and the force broke my collarbone in half. 

Down, But Not Out

joshua showing where he had his right clavicle ORIF surgeryI’m lucky. My dad is a foot and ankle surgeon based out of Muncie. When he saw the ER’s X-rays of my collarbone, he said he thought it would be best if I got surgery.

He checked with a close friend who knows all of the best orthopedic surgeons for different conditions from his work in medical sales. It was that friend who recommended Dr. Nick Crosby.

So, I made an appointment and sent IHTSC my X-rays.

Before my surgery, Dr. Crosby was great. I am so appreciative of all he did to give me the best care possible.

Dr. Crosby did a lot of research about my particular injury and how it affects professional cyclists in training like me. He learned that, with some patients, you could be pretty aggressive with treating this specific type of break.

The depth of his knowledge about clavicle ORIF surgeries was the main reason I was really confident that he could help me get back to training promptly. He knew how much I wanted to participate in the Little 500, which was only a month away.

IHTSC’s schedulers were so accommodating and scheduled me for the first surgery of the day at 5 a.m. Since my parents were out of town, it was actually that same family friend who recommended Dr. Crosby who came with me.

At first, I admit, it was a little weird to be there for surgery without my parents, but everyone at IHTSC that I talked to—the staff, nurses, and anesthesiologist—were so friendly. They made me feel really comfortable.

My right clavicle ORIF surgical scar is super clean, and the break healed great. Dr. Crosby did an incredible job.

Back on Track After ORIF Clavicle Surgery

When I went back to IHTSC after surgery for my first occupational therapy visit, they were surprised at the progress I had made. That made me feel good.

I got a list of exercises to do to help with my recovery, and they cleared me for indoor training. I just had to promise to keep the weight off of my shoulder. They said I could do whatever I wanted with my training as long as I did that.

It was so awesome to get back to the flow of things with my training so quickly. I was really grateful that I was back on the trainer within ten days after my surgery. I finished the rest of my therapy at a different place here in Bloomington that IHTSC recommended.

I know I was able to preserve a lot of my mobility because of Dr. Crosby’s expertise and the fast timing of my clavicle ORIF surgery. These two factors are why I was able to quickly start rehab on my own, take my arm out of the sling so fast, and get back to cycling without much delay.

I crashed on March 17; three days later, I had surgery with Dr. Crosby; then, after about a month, I was cleared to race in the Little 500 on April 23. 

It’s remarkable. The whole thing has been such an incredible experience.

Just before the race, I saw Dr. Crosby again so he could check my right shoulder and give me an official but cautious go-ahead.

Racing Again

joshua, who had clavicle ORIF surgery, holds his trophy

I made it clear to Dr. Crosby from the start that my goal was to race in the Little 500, and he helped make it possible.

I was on the bike at the end for a sprint finish and came in third place. 

I think it’s amazing that I even got to race at all so soon after my accident, and I’m very thankful for that. Everything held strong with the plate from my right clavicle ORIF.

Over the summer, I’ve done more competitive cycling, including criterion races which are less than one mile loops that you go around for an hour. They’re fun, but I prefer the longer road races. 

joshua, who had clavicle ORIF surgery, poses with his cycling team

Because of Dr. Crosby, I’m back on my bike again, which is pretty great. I plan to continue to cycle competitively during and after college, and I can’t wait to race in next year’s Little 500.

Thanks, Dr. Crosby.

Do You Need Care for a Broken Clavicle?

Not all patients require surgery to heal a broken clavicle, but for elite highly-competitive athletes like Josh, more aggressive treatment, like a clavicle ORIF procedure, may be recommended.

If you’ve had a severe collarbone break that requires clavicle fracture fixation, the ideal turnaround for having surgery is typically within 10–14 days after an accident.

Every patient’s needs are different. Make an appointment with an upper extremity surgeon for specific recommendations on what is best to heal your hurt collarbone.

Experts in Treating Upper Extremity Fractures

Since 1972, patients across Indiana and throughout the U.S. have trusted Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center’s world-class upper extremity surgeons.

“My clavicle ORIF surgical scar is super clean, and the break healed great. Dr. Crosby did an incredible job.”—Josh H., Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center patient

Can IHTSC Treat My Clavicle Injury?

IHTSC is the right place to come when you need surgery, like a clavicle ORIF procedure, to heal a broken collarbone. Our entire upper extremity team has the know-how, experience, and training to treat common and more complex hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder fractures.

How Do I See an IHTSC Specialist?

Request an appointment today, and take the first step to pain relief from a broken collarbone or upper extremity fracture.

Prefer to schedule by phone? Call us at (317) 751-5904.

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