Back on the Field
Hayley Haagsma fulfilled a dream this year when she was drafted following college to play professional soccer for Sky Blue FC of New Jersey in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
“I was so excited,” she recalls of her start in the first practice game on March 15th. But her excitement would soon fade away as she tore her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in a bad tackle just 15 minutes later.
Unfortunately, 23-year-old Haagsma already suffered this injury during her playing career in college. Familiar with the injury, she was an experienced patient in her own care and “knew the drill” when it came to the aftermath. That’s why she opted to stay in New Jersey (rather than go home to California) to undergo surgery with Dr. Bruce Stamos, the team’s physician.
Assisted by Dr. Jason Nitche, both surgeons of Brielle Orthopedics worked in tandem to elevate her level of comfort. “By the time I sat down and talked with Dr. Stamos and he answered my questions, I was 100% on board going with him. He has worked with lot of soccer players, and I had complete trust in him.”
A Choice of Surgery
Approximately 150,000 ACL tears occur in the U.S. each year, and females are about five times more likely to tear the ligament than males. According to Dr. Stamos, “Tearing an ACL is a common athletic injury, especially in females. We reconstructed Hayley’s ACL using her own hamstring tendon. We basically make a new ACL. There are a few ways to do the surgery, but in higher level athletes we usually use their own tissues (as opposed to cadavers).”
Stamos, who has been in practice for over a decade, performs about 100 ACL surgeries a year, ranging from high school athletes to professionals, and even “weekend warriors” (30-50 year olds who play sports sporadically). Having torn both his own ACLs while playing soccer, he knows the pain and devastation firsthand. “It’s a challenging injury. But while once it was considered career-ending, technology and advanced conditioning and rehab make it possible to resume a career,” he says.
Since the risk of ACL re-injury is great —at least 25% by some estimates— Dr. Stamos has to educate his patients. Of Hayley, he explains, “The biggest aspect was getting her to understand the path to recovery and to get back to 100%. Once she cleared the emotional hurdle of being injured, she worked incredibly hard.”
After extensive rehab, Hayley is back to playing the sport she loves. Of her injury she says, “Today, I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s not even a thought when I step on the field. It’s the best case scenario you can have when coming back.”
A Super Supportive Medical Staff
Hayley is grateful to Dr. Stamos and Brielle Orthopedics. “He and his whole staff have been such a blessing for our team. They are so good at what they do. I’ve never dealt with a medical staff so efficient and helpful, working to get us back on the field ASAP. Dr. Stamos is so understanding of what we do, and where we are in life. And he’s a really joyful guy to be around.”