HealthWatch: Broken Elbow Surgery


A broken elbow can sideline an athlete in many sports.  One local hospital  offers seamless orthopedic care, from surgery to post-op rehabilitation. This  multidisciplinary team of experts approach can benefit patients.

Jerrod Rathsack broke his elbow and never thought he’d bowl again. But  a local orthopedic surgeon got him back on the lanes. 

Jerrod has been bowling since third grade– so hitting Riviera Lanes to throw a few balls is a treat, “My favorite pastime you can get out with your friends,” said Jerrod Rathsack, Manitowoc.

But he almost lost the ability to play while arm wrestling with friends in 2014, “Arm went like this and this part stayed vertical and this part the whole thing dropped down,” explained Jerrod.

Jerrod knew something was terribly wrong, “So after it happened I was kind of like seeing what actually happened I couldn’t control my arm, ” said Jerrod.

Jerrod was taken to Aurora BayCare Medical Center’s emergency room, “His arm fractured right above his elbow so the bone just sort of failed, ” Explained Shawn Hennigan, MD, shoulder & elbow specialist,  Aurora BayCare Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Shawn Hennigan, who specializes in shoulder and elbow surgery, was called in.  Jerrod fractured his humorous in three places and needed surgery, “It’s a complicated fracture to fix and the treatment in and of itself has some unique complications to it as well mainly due to the surrounding nerves,” explained Dr. Hennigan.

The surgery was successful– but about a month later, “During physical therapy I started losing feeling in my hand,” said Shawn.

“And that very rapidly progressed to losing motor function or strength in his hand,”  explained Dr. Hennigan. Jerrod required a second surgery to move a nerve away from scar tissue, “We transposed the nerve and his motion got a lot better and the nerve slowly recovered.”

Jerrod truly thought he would never bowl again, “I didn’t think like I was going to be even like hold a ball again.”

Physical therapy  helped, “They push you a lot of your limits limits which, at the time, I was like can we not do this please but now I’m very grateful that they did,” said Jerrod.

Jerrod had  a third surgery to take out a plate “It was causing him some symptoms and it was an area I was worried the skin was starting to get compromised,” explained Dr. Hennigan.

After two years, Jerrod was back on the lanes, “As far as doing my normal things I still can, bowling is pretty much normal.”

Besides a little numbness, Jerrod’s back to nearly 100-percent.  He believes Dr. Hennigan saved his arm, “The fact that Dr. Hennigan was able to do what he did I’m unbelievably grateful to it,” said Jerrod.

And as far as arm wrestling goes, “Yeah that’ll never happen again haha,” laughed Jerrod.

Dr. Hennigan says its very common for those with this type of injury to lose up to 20 degrees of arm extension. Jerrod lost none. 

To learn more you can call AuroraBayCare at 866-938-0035 or email

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