With ever-changing and improving technology, one Pennsdale resident had a speedy recovery from a shoulder surgery after a scary accident.
Elayne Greenberg walked into the bathroom at 3 a.m. Nov. 2, 2011. She was hit with a wave of nausea and lost consciousness.
When she awoke three hours later, she found that she had fallen into the bathtub and crushed her left shoulder. She unsuccessfully tried to get out of the bathtub for another three hours. Her daughter would not be checking on her until that night.
She forced herself to get up and call her daughter, who took her to an emergency room.
Although Greenberg was admitted, she said she waited at the hospital for a week. Eventually, she was told she could not be treated because her injuries were too severe. Instead, doctors suggested she go to Geisinger Medical Center.
Greenberg worked with her daughter to find the best doctor who could help her. She found Dr. Gary Harter, a Geisinger Medical Center orthopedic surgeon.
When she finally spoke with him, Harter told her he would operate the next day.
"She had a very difficult fracture with her shoulder," Harter said.
He explained the specific type of fracture she had often leaves the person with "not a lot of function."
Harter performed a reverse shoulder replacement. A shoulder is made up of a ball-and-socket joint. With a regular shoulder replacement surgery, the ball is replaced with a ball and the socket with a socket, he explained.
A reverse shoulder replacement surgery replaces the ball on the socket, or cup, and the cup on the ball.
"It creates a very stable shoulder," Harter said.
"The story goes, I went back to see him (after the surgery)," Greenberg said. "He couldn't believe the progress."
She said Harter was astounded and called everyone in to see. By the time she finished with her treatment, he took pictures because of how good the outcome was.
Most of the time, Greenberg cannot even tell she has metal from her elbow to the shoulder, she said.
"Most days I don't think about it," Greenberg said. "It works just like my other arm."
Even if the rotator cuff doesn't heal, a patient still has reasonably good function, Harter said.
A reverse shoulder replacement surgery takes about six months after the operation to completely heal.
"I saw her at six months," Harter said. "She was just fantastic."
After her surgery, she had two months of physical therapy at Muncy Valley Hospital, which included mostly stretching exercises, some which she still does even though she has finished her time at therapy.
She now has more range of motion in her replaced shoulder than she does in her other shoulder.
With an aging population, Harter said it is common for him to see people with fractures.
"We will see much more of them over the years," he said.
He expects that as time goes on, the reverse shoulder surgery will improve, as will the technology used.
"I'm so glad I picked the right doctor," Greenberg said.