“Most high school athletes have dreams. Big dreams. Ever since I was a young boy my dream was all about football. It has always been my passion. But life throws you curves here and there, and for me, it was a mountain of shoulder injuries. Those injuries led me to Dr. Peter Millett and today I have new goals.
My new dream is to be a Physical Therapist. That is how much The Steadman Clinic and the work of Dr. Millett inspired me. My ultimate goal is to be as exceptional, as professional and as compassionate to my patients as Dr. Millett was to me. If all of those line up, my career will have fulfillment.”
Adult words spoken from still a very young man, Tyrel Lenard, or “Ty” as his family and friends call him, speaks them from the heart and from experience.
The 19-year old football star from Rifle, CO, has been playing football since the tender age of 7. An all-around athlete on the field, he played running back, linebacker and kick/punt returner for Rifle High School. As any competitive athlete, Ty is not a stranger to injuries and was plagued with a string of shoulder dislocations after injuring it during a basketball tournament at the beginning of 8th grade.
“My shoulder has always been my source of concern. I played basketball for several years before high school and injured it during a basketball tournament in the 8th grade. After my freshman year in high school, I had arthroscopic surgery on my shoulder. After taking time off and resting and healing it, it seemed to be better. However, I injured it again after a freak hit by an older teammate during a practice drill sent it into a complete dislocation. I continued to play my sophomore year but my shoulder would dislocate over and over again. It got to the point where each time it was becoming more and more painful and even sleeping on it became hard,” said Ty.
Ty admits that this timeframe was one of the most challenging times of his high school years. “Missing games and practices because of a hurt shoulder was excruciating. I was also under a constant strand of anxiety because I never knew when or if the next hit or tackle would dislocate my shoulder. My mom and I knew it was time to seek out help.”
After a friend on the football team had success with knee surgery, Ty and his mom learned it was a surgeon out of The Steadman Clinic in Vail so they called to find out who specializes in shoulders and were lead to Dr. Millett.
Dr. Millett saw Ty soon after and advised him to stop playing and that when the football season ended in early November 2007, he would perform surgery. “Ty had some pretty extensive damage to his right shoulder. We discussed operative and non-operative treatment options and he elected to proceed with surgical treatment. Because his CT scan showed an anteroinferior glenoid fracture—a bone defect in the socket of the ball and socket joint that made the shoulder highly unstable—surgery was necessary if he wanted to resume football for the next school year. I performed a procedure called a Latarjet procedure to rebuild the bone that had been damaged and arthroscopically performed an extensive glenohumeral debridement with the arthroscopic removal of a loose body and debridement of Hill-Sachs defect (an injury to upper end of the humerus),” said Dr. Millett. “The Latarjet is a procedure that I have a lot of experience with. It is used commonly in France, where I learned about it, but it has not been well known in the US. For several years now, I have been using it for difficult cases such as Ty’s.”
After surgery, therapy was initiated to rebuild the strength in his shoulder. “Therapy required a lot of dedication and time but it was the only way to stay on track with my dreams. Dr. Millett and each and every therapist I came into contact with not only made me feel better physically, but they also helped me mentally,” said Ty.
“When you lose your feeling of invincibility as an athlete, Dr. Millett makes you feel like you’ll be able to feel that way again. He has endless compassion and the natural ability to explain the entire problem, as well as the solutions in-depth. He is a player’s surgeon and wants to get you back on the field as fast as possible without risking your entire career. I truly can’t say enough about him. He’s definitely one of my heroes.”
In August of 2009, Ty started his senior year and because of his surgery and hard work, he was as close to 100% as possible when the football season started. Ty came back unstoppable and averaged over 8 yards per carry, led his team in touchdowns, had over 2,200 total offensive yards breaking the school record, and assisted his team to be named First Team All-Conference. Furthermore, Ty led the state of Colorado in kick and punt returns.
“Thanks to Dr. Millett, I have my confidence back. I’ve been recruited to play football in college and am leaving soon for California where I’m going to play the sport I love and study to be a physical therapist. I will always be grateful and will never forget my time spent with Dr. Millett. I know there will always be open arms if I ever need to return.”