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Face Off Against a Serious Injury

Kalinski recovers from potentially career-ending ailment

Wednesday, 08.12.2009 / 10:06 AM ET / News
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Face Off Against a Serious Injury
Hockey stars are conditioned to play rough. But nothing prepared Philadelphia Flyers rookie Jon Kalinski for the injury he received during a game against the Los Angeles Kings on January 3 at the Staples Center.

“I was hit in the left thigh. I was hurt, but able to finish the game,” said Kalinski.

After receiving a clean bill of health from doctors at a Los Angeles hospital, Kalinski boarded the team plane for Philadelphia the next morning. But during the long flight home, his pain became agonizing.

The moment the plane landed, Kalinski was rushed to the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees to be examined by a team physician. Kalinski’s leg was swollen to one and a half times its normal size, and it was clear – he needed emergency surgery to save his leg.
Jon Kalinski appeared in 12 games with the Flyers last season as a rookie, registering a goal and two assists. (Getty Images)

Kalinski's potentially career-ending injury is called compartment syndrome. It occurs when injured tissue swells so much within a compartment of muscles that blood circulation to the area is cut off. When this happens, tissue starts to die.

Virtua orthopaedic surgeon, Michael Harrer, M.D., explained: “If you don’t treat this condition quickly, it can lead to the loss of a limb or even death.”

Meanwhile, Virtua Marlton’s surgical team prepared for emergency surgery. Kalinski received a fasciotomy, an operation to relieve the deadly pressure within the leg. It required a 12-inch incision from the top of Kalinski’s thigh to the top of his knee.

Intensive post-operative care at Marlton was lead by Dr. Harrer.

“Jon required 24-hour monitoring because his large incision had to be left open for days to allow for proper healing.”

Only eight weeks after his operation and rehabilitation, Kalinski was back on the ice. Dr. Harrer was at the game to see his star patient play.

“During a grueling check, Jon was thrown to the ice but got right back up – an amazing save in so many ways.”

Physician bio: Michael Harrer, M.D., is board certified in orthopaedic surgery. He earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and he completed his internship and residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Dr. Harrer is a team physician for the Philadelphia Flyers.

* * *

Compartment syndrome can be caused by many types of blunt injuries to the legs, arms, buttocks and hands. Call your physician or go to the nearest emergency department if you experience these symptoms within hours after an injury:

1. Extreme pain that seems inappropriately severe for the injury
2. Tense swelling that makes the injured area feel hard

Virtua is the official orthopaedic provider of the Philadelphia Flyers. For more information, click here.

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