Quick action saves Flyers' rookie in medical crisis

February 27, 2009 3:24:13 PM PST
Professional athletes are used to bumps and bruises. But a Flyers rookie has discovered they can turn into a dangerous condition.

For Jonathan Kalinski, just being on the ice is a thrill.

2 months ago, at a game in los angeles, the flyers rookie took a hit to his left thigh.

Kalinski remembers, "It felt like a charlie horse at first. But then it got a lot worse."

But by the time he was back in Philadelphia the next day, Kalinski was in severe pain, and -

"My leg swelled pretty much twice the size of what it was," he recalls.

The Flyers trainer took him to the team doctor, and Virtua orthopedic surgeon Dr. William DeLong.

Within an hour, the team doctor had Kalinski on the operating table at Virtua Hospital Marlton, for surgery on what's called "compartment syndrome."

It occurs when muscles swell, building up dangerous pressure in the "compartment" of fibrous tissue that surrounds them.

Dr. DeLong says tthings can go from bad to worse FAST. "If you leave the pressure there for more than 3 hours, you can have irreversible damage."

To release the pressure, Dr. William DeLong opened the compartment with an incision the length of Kalinski's thigh.

After 2 more operations, and 9 days in the hospital, the young player went home.

Since then, he's been rebuilding his strength and skill.

"Feels great. It doesn't hurt me anymore," he says.

Dr.DeLong is impressed by his recovery. "You can't detect a difference between his left and right foot right now."

Kalinski says it all happened so fast, he didn't realize how deep his crisis was till he was out of surgery. "I woke up and had a big incision on my leg."

Tonight, Kalinski plays for the Phantoms, the Flyers farm team. It'll be his first game since the injury.

"It's great to finally be able to play after 2 months," he says with a smile.

Doctors say it's important for anyone working with athletes to recognize compartment syndrome early.

It usually occurs after trauma, but can also be triggered by tight bandages or casts.

If it's not treated, it can lead to amputation.

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