• Kim Hayes

Dillon's Incredible Story


This is an amazing story of never giving up! Dillon Cox suffered a devastating injury during a very difficult delivery when he was born. Dillon was two weeks past his due date and as a result, weighed in at 9 pounds 15 oz. His size led the doctors to pull forcefully on both of his arms to assist him out of the birth canal, which caused a severe injury to his right shoulder, as it separated his shoulder and tore the nerves supplying that region of his shoulder/arm. If that wasn't bad enough, shortly after his birth, due to the trauma he had endured, Dillon had to be resuscitated 3 times.

The magnitude of the injury to his right shoulder caused Dillon's right shoulder/arm to be completely paralyzed for the first 3 months of his young life. Dillon's parents manually exercised Dillon's arm and worked with a Chiropractor in order to help preserve his arm health. Eventually, the paralysis subsided and Dillon was able to move his injured arm.

Dillon was told the torn nerves eventually healed into a bundle, therefore, the entire shoulder region grew and developed abnormally. His right side clavicle and scapula bones were abnormal in both length, size and positioning, which severely impinged the entire shoulder joint area. The accompanying muscles of his right arm were also affected and developed improperly as a result. The combination of the damage to his shoulder severely limited his range of motion, strength and his ability to fully utilize his arm. Dillon wasn't able to do all the activities his friends could do while growing up.

Dillon is employed as a mechanic at Isringhausen Imports in Springfield, IL. The severe impingement to his shoulder joint led to increased pain and reduced range of motion, thus making it increasingly difficult for Dillon to work. After experiencing increasing pain to his right bicep whenever he moved his arm, Dillon met with Springfield Clinic Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Mark Greatting on November 11, 2017. Though Dr. Greatting is a highly respected hand/shoulder orthopedic surgeon, he did not feel he was the right surgeon to help Dillon. Instead, Dr. Greatting recommended Dr. Bassem Elhassan, an outstanding orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Elhassan is the only surgeon in the United States to perform the surgery Dillon would require to repair the shoulder and correct the impingement. According to Dillon, the surgery is very rare and he estimated that Dr. Elhassan had performed less than a dozen of these procedures prior to his.

Dillon met with Dr. Elhassan on March 15th and 16th, 2018, where he underwent a series of CT scans and X-rays. Dr. Elhassan felt he could help Dillon with the hope the surgical outcome would provide Dillon with the ability to fully extend both of his arms overhead with no pain or problems.

Once Dillon's surgery was scheduled, members of the Sherman/Williamsville Communities threw their support behind Dillon by organizing various fundraising events. Mayo Clinic and its doctors are out of Dillon's insurance network coverage area, therefore, the cost of his surgery was not guaranteed to be covered by his insurance.

On July 31st, Dr. Elhassan performed the life changing surgery on Dillon. The following is a description of the surgery provided to Dillon by Dr. Elhassan:

Major reconstruction of the bony soft tissue of the right upper extremity:

1) Coracoid bone excision.

2) Release of the rotator interval, anterior capsule to improve shoulder rotation.

3) Biceps tenotomy and tenodesis.

4) Transfer of the conjoined and the pectoralis minor to repair it to the lesser tuberosity.

5) Latissimus dorsi transfer to the proximal aspect of the lesser tuberosity.

6) Transfer of the lower trapezius augmented with Achilles tendon allograft.

7) Release of the coracohumeral and coracoacromial ligament.

8) Release of the AC joint and acromial corrective osteotomy to improve the acromion from downsloping to a better corrected position.

9) ORIF using double plate (using lateral malleolar locking compression plate from Synthes) for internal fixation of the acromion.

10) Cerclage suture ring around the site of the osteotomy and the use of Orthoblend bone allograft.

11) Percutaneous pinning of the AC joint first to heal the AC joint and to help also in the stabilization of the acromial corrective osteotomy construct.

This certainly was a very complex surgery. Dillon's scapula and clavicle bones had portions removed by cutting the bone and pinning the pieces back together in order for them to be the correct size and align properly followed by multiple ligament, tendon and muscle transfers, where each was reattached to the bone.

X-ray of Dillon's shoulder after reconstruction.

Dillon was kept at the Clinic for two extra days due to the amount of pain he was in and unfortunately, the pain medication made him very sick. Dillon was released and allowed to go home on August 3rd.

Postoperative Pictures:

August 3, 2018

Having seen Dillon's story on FaceBook, I contacted his mom, Susan, to offer up Visi's Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein Drink Mix - Nuffina, which I knew could help promote quicker healing. I met with Dillon on Sunday, August 5th.

Dillon began using 1 serving of Nuffina, which contained 12 grams of the Hydrolyzed Types I - V Collagen Amino Acids the following day. Dillon advised with very few exceptions, he drank 1 Nuffina shake per day until his post-surgery visit with Dr. Elhassan.

When I initially met with Dillon, he was on 2 mg of Dilaudid every three hours for his pain. He advised on either the Tuesday or Wednesday following our meeting, he was able to stop taking the Dilaudid and switched to taking Tylenol for two days before completely stopping all pain medication by August 10. Dillon advised he was no longer experiencing any post-operative pain 5 days after beginning the Nuffina.

On October 3, 2018, three months after his surgery, Dillon had his first post-surgical follow up visit with Dr. Elhassan. According to Susan's FaceBook post, Dr. Elhassan was very pleased by his progress!

After his visit with Dr. Elhassan, Dillon and I met so he could update me on how he was doing. Dillon shared the exciting news about how well his bones had healed. Dr. Elhassan had removed the temporary pins that had been affixed to the bone. Instead of coming out easily, the pins were difficult for Dr. Elhassan to remove, which Dr. Elhassan advised was because the bone had healed so well. Though that wasn't too much fun for Dillon, the fact that his bones had healed so well was amazingly good news!

I inquired about any residual pain he might have from the surgery. Dillon advised he had no pain in his bicep, and no point tenderness where the bones were cut and reattached, nor did he have any tenderness or pain where the ligaments, tendons and muscles had been transferred or reattached to his bone. I was completely amazed!

Since Dillon's Insurance still hasn't decided on whether or not they will cover any of the medical costs, I wanted to continue to help Dillon fully recover as quickly as possible.

To provide the extra support Dillon will need throughout his rehab, I've recommended he use 24 grams of the hydrolyzed collagen protein/day by using a combination of both hydrolyzed collagen products - Nuffina and Probita, Visi's convenient chew.

Having been through a shoulder surgery and physical therapy, I knew Dillon would be physically pushed to improve his range of motion, increase his muscular flexibility and strength throughout his recovery. The additional collagen amino acids will provide the optimal collagen based support Dillon will need during his therapy to increase his muscle strength, joint flexibility and support post-therapy muscle recovery, including minimizing the post-therapy muscle soreness, thereby curbing the need to take NSAIDS for therapy induced pain.

Dillon's recovery plan is for 2 months of physical therapy - working on stretching and flexibility, only, followed by another 2 months of physical therapy to strengthen the arm - as of right now, they don't plan on having him lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. His goal is to be released sooner than their targeted dates! He will follow up with Dr. Elhassan in 3 months in order for Dr. Elhassan to check his progress.

I checked in with Dillon to find out how he's doing thus far with his therapy. I'm very happy to report, he advised he's doing really well.

Dillon's case is a true testament of both his determination and not giving up. It is also a true testament of the multiple benefits provided by Visi's Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein for both post-surgery recovery and rehabilitation.

Stay tuned for updates on this amazing journey!

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