In 1998, Justin Hamilton was 20 years old and on course to graduate from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley when he hit a major bump in the road.
The road in this case was some stairs Hamilton was negotiating downwards with some furniture. He took a misstep. His right leg buckled, and his femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone) slid out of position at the knee joint. The knee popped back into place, but the trauma broke his patella (kneecap) into several pieces.
Surgeons repaired the damaged kneecap with screws, but Hamilton needed three subsequent surgeries to clean up scar tissue and floating fragments of cartilage, the smooth, buffering tissue that covers the ends of the bones in the joint. He says he managed the injury fairly well through his 20s, but admits it severely limited the life he’d led as an active native Coloradoan.
“The break was life-changing,” Hamilton said. “I used to go snow-skiing and water-skiing and played high-impact basketball. After I hurt my knee, I was too unsteady, even with a knee brace. It was a big loss.”
Read his entire story at UC Health.
Photo credit: Cyrus McCrimmon for UCHealth