GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The kids playing kickball on the playground where his wife teaches school told 40-year-old Travis Albrecht no one had ever kicked the ball all the way over the fence for a home run. Suddenly, Albrecht saw the chance to make one of his childhood dreams come true. Boy, would he show these kids how it’s done!
“So, it’s my turn up, bases loaded, two outs,” Albrecht explained. “It’s a kid’s dream, it’s my dream coming true and so I went up to give it everything I got to put it over that homerun wall and ‘snap!’”
Albrecht is not the first 40-year-old to learn the hard way that he’s not a kid anymore.
“I limped to first base,” he said. “Then the bell rang, so the kids went inside and I drove home and laid down for a while.”
You wouldn’t call him a weekend warrior though. Albrecht is an avid runner, more physically fit than most people half his age. For him, it’s a lifestyle that goes beyond just being physically fit.
“For me, it’s also mental fitness,” Albrecht explained. “I get to spend time thinking, praying, connecting with others. It’s ‘me’ time.”
So, when his kickball injury didn’t seem to fully heal…
“I just wasn’t experiencing the strength I used to have,” he recalled. “Something wasn’t right. I knew that.”
…and a bump started forming where it shouldn’t be…
“A couple months later I noticed a large lump at the top of my leg,” Albrecht said. “That was concerning.”
Albrecht knew it was time to get things checked out.
“When he flexed his muscle, you could actually see the gap where the two ends of the muscle weren’t touching,” explained Dr. Harold Schock with Aurora BayCare Medical Center.
Schock is the orthopedic surgeon who took on Albrecht’s challenging case.
“Typically, when people tear their quadricep tendon they tear it directly off their kneecap,” Schock described, pointing to that area on an X-ray of Albrecht’s leg. “His quadricep actually tore in the middle of the muscle.”
Without the solid structure of tendon into bone involved in a typical surgery, Schock says traditional techniques used to repair the injury were not an option. Schock was upfront with Albrecht about what his options were.
“The first option would be modifying activity level,” Schock said.
In other words, give up running; which remember, is the foundation of Albrecht’s lifestyle.
“It’s just been very good for me,” he said, “my well-being, wholeness.”
Fortunately for Albrecht, Schock had another option.
“Using advanced imaging, we found that gap and we were able to repair it with some thicker, heavier suture,” Schock explained. “We extended the length of our repair; we also took a piece of cadaver tendon and actually used that to weave through that defect to create a little structure or substance in that area as well.”
The results? After healing and a rigorous rehabilitation program, Albrecht says he ran his first half-marathon almost exactly one year from the day of his surgery. Returning to the quality of life he enjoyed before being injured.
“I run three to four times a week, anywhere from four to six miles,” Albrecht said. “Since the surgery, I’ve run five or six half-marathons,” he added. “So, the quality of life has been there. I’m really thankful that I had it done
Albrecht also said he wanted to acknowledge that the tendon in his leg is a donor tendon and express his gratitude for the person who made the choice to be an organ and tissue donor. He says he hopes he is making them proud.