Luke Gassett learned firsthand what years of hard play can do to an athlete’s body. Gassett is an 18-year-old senior at Saint Louis University High School. A hockey player since age 5, the varsity forward noticed several months ago that something was wrong with his right hip. “I was feeling sharp pain, especially when I brought my knee up,” he says. “It felt like a pinched nerve. It was so painful, I’d have to stop what I was doing at times. I played through the pain for a bit, thinking it would go away. It didn’t.”
His range of motion in the hip was compromised, too. He tried physical therapy, but to no avail. Further medical care would be required. Gassett says he wanted to be thorough, so he sought more than one opinion before deciding on Dr. Scott Kaar, a SLUCare sports medicine specialist and surgeon. An MRI had shown that repetitive wear from years of play had damaged muscle and cartilage keeping the head of Gassett’s right femur seated in its hip socket. Kaar performed a right hip impingement procedure at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, and the patient returned home the same day. “Dr. Kaar did the operation arthroscopically so my recovery time would be shorter,” Gassett says. “They actually took my leg out of the hip socket during the surgery.”
Gassett says Kaar was his clear choice; he was impressed with Kaar’s con dence, accessibility and straightforward explanation of the procedure. “I wanted to feel comfortable with the person who was doing it,” he explains. “I knew I was in the right hands with Dr. Kaar.” Gassett took about three weeks of bed rest after the surgery, and completed the recovery cycle with physical therapy. He returned to skating after three months, and was on the game roster two months after that. Now, he feels back to 100 percent. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” he says of the experience.
Kaar sees patients of all ages, including those on rigorous workout schedules, and less active weekend warriors. His most common surgeries are ACL tears, but he is passionate about helping athletes recover from other types of injuries as well. “No matter the age, the technical part is the same with patients, but the conversations vary,” Kaar says. “For some athletes, it’s hard telling someone he or she will miss a season and that it might impact the following season as well. Making the decision to have the surgery is a big deal because much of the patient’s identity is tied to the sport. However, some injuries can be life-changing in the short term, even though they are often not a big deal in the long term.”
SLUCare’s sports medicine team includes four physicians, a physician assistant and two clinical nurses. With two orthopedic surgeons and two family practice physicians leading the way, the group deals with everything from shoulder and knee injuries to concussions and tendinitis.
Kaar says seeing patients get back to doing what they love is gratifying and its own reward. “I love the interactive nature of the job,” he says. “I love the people I work with who want to get better. And I find the surgeries I do cutting-edge, fun and exciting.”
Pictured: Luke Gassett
Photo courtesy of SLUCare Physician Group
The SLUCare sports medicine team focuses on helping patients recover from a variety of injuries. pictured on the cover, from left: Dr. William Mitchell III; Lauren Smith, PA; Dr. Minh-Ha Hoang; Dr. Scott Kaar; and Dr. Christopher Kim. For more information, call 314.977.4440 or visit slucare.edu/sportsmedicine.
Cover design by Jon Fogel | Cover photo courtesy of SLUCare Physician Group