I am a Registered Nurse from upstate NY. I also train and compete in a police dog sport called IPO. While at a US World Team Qualifier I had a large German Shepherd run into me, while chasing a ball. He tried to stop in time, but ended up taking me out at the knees. I heard a pop and had immediate pain in the back of my knee. I went to an orthopaedic surgeon in my town who did a MRI, which diagnosed posterior horn medial meniscus root tear. He offered to remove my meniscus saying that the recovery from repairing it would be to hard. That didn’t really sound like a good plan as I know how important the meniscus is to joint health, so I went to an expert at The Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC. The doctor there thought that there might be a root tear, but didn’t think it needed surgery, and thought PT would take care of the symptoms. It did not. Which brought me to a third doctor who decided to repair the root tear. During the surgery, I also suffered a grade 3 MCL tear, when the surgeon tried to bend my knee. After surgery, my knee still hurt and in fact was more painful than before. For months we tried PT, until the surgeon finally said that there wasn’t really anything else he could do for me. That’s when I decided to contact The Steadman Clinic and Dr. Robert LaPrade. Arguably one of the, if not THE best complex knee surgeon in the world. I flew from NY to Colorado to see him. He did x-rays and another MRI which showed that my repair had healed, but unfortunately it healed in a non-anatomic position. Simply put, the meniscus wasn’t where it was supposed to be inside the knee joint. He went in and did a very complex revision of this surgery I stayed in Colorado for a couple weeks after the surgery as Dr. LaPrade has a very specific rehab protocol that he likes his patients to follow. While there I received physical therapy twice a day, every day, at Howard Head Sports Medicine. Needless to say, Dr. LaPrade’s skill and expertise coupled with his specific rehab protocols helped me to be pain free for the first time in over a year!!!

My treatment and recovery

The surgery was difficult. It left me using crutches, in full extension and non-weight bearing for 6+ weeks. Physical therapy was started within hours of getting discharged from the hospital and I really believe that along with Dr. LaPrade’s skill as a surgeon, his strict rehab protocols are what helped this surgery to be successful. Twice each day I would have about an hour long physical therapy session where we worked on passive range of motion within the “safe zone” of my repair (for me it was 0° to 90°), quad strength, and patella mobilization. The work was hard, but I was committed to do whatever Dr. LaPrade thought I needed to do, in order to get back to doing the things I loved (train dogs competitively, run, mountain bike, SKI!!). It took about 4 months before it really started to feel good and by six months I was back out on the mountain skiing hard! I was also back to training and competing with my dogs at the national level.


My best tip is to DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! Find the best doctor for your injury that you can. If the treatment doesn't seem right, question it!

My Second First

Because Of Dr. LaPrade and his team, my knee is now pain free! I can run, mountain bike, and ski the bumps and hit the rails! Because of Dr. LaPrade and his team I was able to represent the US at the World Championship, held in Finland, just a few short months after he repaired my knee! I am forever grateful for the care that I received and thankful that researchers like him are able to make treatment options available for all of us!!


Share your patient story. How did orthopaedic care help you?


  1. Suzanne

    Ms. Coppola – Thank you *so* much for your story. I live in Texas, and am currently suffering from a “meniscocapsular separation” and a tear on my left medial meniscus about the posterior horn. Essentially…I think this is almost the same injury as yours and I was given the same advice, as well: conservative treatment with physical therapy. I’ve gone and there has been some improvement, but uh…I still can’t walk without a severe limp. And this is going on six-months this Oct 19th. I’m so disheartened. I fear I will not get my life back. I don’t know if I can afford to travel and stay in Colorado, but, I’m really starting to look into it because this is no way to live. 🙁 I’m very glad you got to a better place – even competing again six months after your surgery. Wow! Hoping I can get a happy ending to my injury-story, too. All the best and enjoy those dogs and skiing! -S*

    • Laurie Coppola

      Hi Suzanne,

      I also thought I couldn’t “afford” to go to Colorado and have surgery, but after talking with my husband we decided that I couldn’t afford NOT to go. My life (as you know) was significantly impacted by this injury. I highly recommend seeing a complex knee surgeon who specializes in these complex injuries. Even if it’s just for a consult to give you your options. I would highly recommend reaching out to Dr. LaPrade’s team and seeing if they can help you. Good luck!

  2. Roxanne Dombrosky

    Your story is inspiring to me! I am 57 yrs old and tore my meniscus during a collision with a 220# teamate while playing in a competative Ulitimate Frisbee league. My surgery was done 5 weeks ago at the Bone and Joint Institute in Hershey Pa. I am concerned for the long-term prognosis for accelerated arthritis but try to focus on what I can control which is not twisting my knee during the healing! I am not sure how long ago your surgery was, but hope you have nothing holding you back!

    • Laurie Coppola

      Hi Roxanne,

      I am 2.5 years out from my surgery and my knee is 100%!
      Hope yours heals as well. I fought hard to NOT have a meniscectomy for the same reason you described (early onset OA) and I was so grateful to have found a surgeon who could repair my meniscus to give me the best shot of a long and active lifestyle.
      Good luck to you!

  3. Lori Buszkiewicz

    HI Ms. Coppola-I am a 45 yo very active person-I am about 6 weeks out from what sounds like a similar surgery-posterior medial meniscal root repair. I am hoping to get the ok to start to weight bear and unlock this week. My question is, how much pain is normal/ok to have when you start getting back to weight bearing? I am just about at 90 degrees flexion in PT and feel stretching and quad pain with that which they tell me is normal. But how about pain in the meniscal area? Did you have any at all? I’m trying to figure out how to tell if the repair worked. Thanks!!

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