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Patient Stories

The Long Game: Advanced Fracture Care Gets Peabody Man Back On Course

The last thing anyone on vacation wants is to get sick or hurt away from home. But on a trip to Bermuda last July, Steve Caruso, 27, of Peabody lost control of the moped he was driving while trying to avoid an oncoming car. When he crashed to the ground, the full weight of the moped landed on his left arm and snapped his humerus just above the elbow.

Determined to enjoy the rest of his trip, Caruso opted for a plaster cast at the local hospital until he could return home for more advanced care. The next days were a far cry from the golf-and-beach getaway he had imagined.

Once home, he saw NSMC orthopedic surgeon Todd O’Brien, M.D., who explained that Caruso’s bone was badly broken and recommended surgery to implant a thin metal plate with screws to stabilize the break and knit the bone back together. While he didn’t cause more damage by waiting to see a surgeon, Caruso needed to act fast to avoid further decline.

“Steve’s injury was similar in severity and complexity to many of the trauma cases we see in our practice,” says Dr. O’Brien. “With these injuries, our goal is to realign the fractured bone, protect the range of motion and preserve the health of the joint—in this case, the elbow.”

For Caruso, the surgery and its outcome had higher-than-average stakes. Certified by the Professional Golf Association (PGA), he not only competed as a golfer but worked as an instructor and pro at the Thomas Country Club in North Reading.

“From the beginning, Dr. O’Brien was clear about my situation,” says Caruso. “I understood the potential limitations I faced and felt confident that surgery was the best option for maintaining my abilities.”

In recent years, technology has advanced to improve outcomes in bone fracture repair, says Dr. O’Brien. These improvements include thinner, more anatomically contoured plates as well as locking and non-locking screws that enable greater mobility and individualized treatment.

“Especially for a patient like Steve, who is active and has a high level of physical ability, these features can make a significant difference,” says Dr. O’Brien. “Whether treating an injury due to an accident or a degenerative condition that requires joint reconstruction or replacement, our team offers highly specialized treatments and advanced technology right here in the community.”

Following surgery at NSMC Salem Hospital, Caruso spent six weeks with his arm immobilized, then underwent physical therapy to restore his strength and motion. After a season away, he’s ready to hit the links again. For added insurance, he is pursuing a backup career as a financial representative and looking forward to reserving his golf for
clients and friends. As for Bermuda, Caruso will take a mulligan. “I’m ready
for a do-over,” he laughs, “but this time without mopeds.”