SOURCE: Neurologic and Orthopedic Institute of Chicago

April 12, 2007 08:00 ET

New Lenox, Ill. Soccer Player Shoulders Burden of Comeback From Injury

NEW LENOX, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 12, 2007 -- Jamie Panfil of New Lenox, Ill. has always been a handful on the soccer field, for her opponents and her mother Marsha, who has been coaching amateur soccer at the club level for several years.

"Jamie is a very aggressive player and she can be quite stubborn to coach," she said. So stubborn that mom had to kick her daughter off the soccer team when she was 10 years old because she wouldn't take direction.

But the flip side of stubbornness is determination and Jamie needed every bit of that to recover from a severe shoulder injury that developed when she was in 7th grade. The junior goalkeeper at Lincoln Way Central High School is competitive by nature and while this trait allowed her to play in pain for several months, it also delayed necessary treatment.

"In 7th grade, I noticed that my shoulder would pop out, and physical therapy fixed it temporarily, but it never went away," she said. Over time and after landing on the shoulder making saves for her soccer teams, the shoulder deteriorated until Jamie was taking pain meds just to play.

Eventually, Aaron Wolf, the chiropractor who works with the high school team, as well as the Chicago Fire soccer team, recommended the Fire's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Preston Wolin, evaluate her. Wolin also sees a variety of sports injuries at his practice at the Neurologic and Orthopedic Institute of Chicago.

"I heard that Dr. Wolin had treated other goalies with shoulder problems so I was relieved that he was going to be doing the surgery," Jamie said.

Wolin said that Jamie was born with a certain amount of laxity in her shoulder ligaments that allow for more flexibility than normal. While this flexibility is beneficial, too much permits the shoulder to bend and contort in unhealthy ways.

"Jamie's injury was uncommon because the shoulder was coming out of socket in a number of directions," he said. Wolin ordered an MRI arthrogram that uses a dye to provide a better outline of the shoulder's structure.

However, because Jaime's shoulder injury was complex, Wolin used an arthroscopic procedure that allowed him to access the top, bottom, front and back of the shoulder. Using an open method in which a surgeon has to cut through more muscle tissue makes it more difficult to accomplish a complex operation and adds several months to recovery, Wolin said.

"It's important to tailor a surgery to the sport and athlete," he said. Soccer goalies, for instance, use a windmill motion when throwing a ball downfield and this range of motion is different than a baseball pitcher who throws with a bent elbow. Goalies must also be able to reach up high to make saves or be able to dive and hit the ground and know their shoulder can survive the contact.

Wolin also recommends aggressive physical therapy to return athletic patients to their prior state of competitiveness. It's important to work with a physical therapist who understands your goals and Jamie's physical therapist Josh Fiegal played a pivotal role in helping Jamie recover from the surgery.

"Using advanced technology to diagnose and treat these injuries and having a knowledge of how the athlete uses his or her shoulder is important, as well as having a committed and motivated patient to follow the physical therapy," Wolin said.

Jamie could be classified in the "committed and motivated" category, according to her mom. The injury and subsequent surgery wiped out her entire sophomore season but she followed the rehab plan set by her doctors and was back on the field this past summer playing in a club league.

"This is a crucial (junior) year coming up for me," she said. "I missed my sophomore season this past Spring but this year is when colleges more actively recruit and my shoulder is sound enough to allow me to play again."

Jamie reports no problems with her shoulder and she is not the type to baby an injury.

"Toward the end of the league schedule this year, I was able to do everything I could before the injury," she said.

For more information, visit

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Chris Martin