Getting Back in the Game

Orthopaedic surgeon specializes in minimally invasive surgery for sports injuries

J. Martin Leland III, MD J. Martin Leland III, MD

Fifty-two-year-old businessman and avid baseball player Laurence Cavanaugh wasn't ready to hang up his glove after a dive for the ball led to a fractured shoulder and torn ligaments. "Fortunately," said Cavanaugh, "it wasn't my throwing arm."

Thankfully, his decision to see J. Martin Leland III, MD, sports medicine and orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Chicago Medicine, got him back on the field in relatively short order, after minimally invasive surgery to repair the damage from that great play.

Leland, who practices in Hyde Park and in Matteson, Ill., specializes in the joints that are most commonly injured in sports -- shoulders and knees.

His first step was to recommend physical therapy for Cavanaugh, who lives in Crown Point, Ind. That helped the bone heal. The next step was to fix the problems in the joint. Leland repaired the tissues using an arthroscope, a slim instrument inserted into the joint through a small incision.

Leland, who conducts ongoing research to find state-of-the-art treatments, is a sought-after educator and lecturer, offering his expertise to students, physicians and athletic trainers across Chicagoland.

His practice includes some of the most complex sports medicine surgeries, including multiligament knee reconstructions and proximal hamstring repairs.

Leland's experience and expertise also help patients quickly sort through the best treatment options -- from the simple to the complex.

Whether your sport is downhill skiing, golf, volleyball or baseball, chances are you can't escape a few aches and pains. Of course, not all injuries require surgery. A lot can heal through time and nonsurgical treatments.

"About 90 percent of my patients are nonoperative," said Leland, former team physician for the Chicago Blackhawks. "My role is to help educate them on what's going on in their body and how to continue being active without causing further damage."

Nearly all of Leland's surgeries are arthroscopic. The small incisions significantly reduce pain and speed healing. Leland also works closely with physical therapists during rehabilitation. "I use very structured rehabilitation protocols and strength measurements to get patients to recover as quickly as possible," he said.

Most patients can expect to return to full activities in anywhere from two weeks to six months, depending on the extent of the injury, Leland said.

As for Cavanaugh, he was happily back in center field just a few months after his surgery.

As for Cavanaugh, he was happily back in center field just a few months after his surgery.

This story originally ran in the Spring 2012 issue of Imagine, a quarterly magazine published by the University of Chicago Medicine.
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