Danielle Busanic was only a sophomore in high school when basketball scouts were looking at her for college. But then she went up for a routine layup and came down, hard, on her left leg. The force tore her ACL, the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, and left her writhing and screaming on the court in pain.
She couldn't walk for three days and knew she needed surgery. Danielle and her parents reached out to Raphael Longobardi, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and athletic injuries. He is currently Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Holy Name Medical Center.
"Dr. Longobardi was very thorough and explained everything to me so I knew what to expect," Danielle said. "At that point, my parents were more scared than I was and they didn't like the idea that I needed surgery at such a young age. But it went really well and though it was a long recovery process with physical therapy, it feels great now."
The ACL is one of the four main stabilizing ligaments within the knee and connects the upper (femur) and lower leg (tibia) bones. It keeps the knee stable and is crucial for pivoting, jumping/landing and even changing direction correctly.
Like most patients with ACL surgery, Danielle's procedure was a same-day surgery and she was home that night. She underwent the complex, double-bundle reconstruction of her left knee ACL. She then started in Dr. Longobardi's specific ACL reconstruction post-operative protocol.
Danielle made a terrific recovery and was back on the court for her junior year of high school. The reconstructed left knee had no problems with training camp and the season, only this time she sustained an injury to the opposite knee, tearing the ACL in her right knee. Again, she faced surgery, this time knowing what to expect and knowing the effort necessary to make a complete recovery. She opted to have her injury treated again by Dr. Longobardi. He performed the same double-bundle reconstruction to the right knee as he did to the left.
"I wanted to get back to playing and it went really well also," Danielle said. "I think Dr. Longobardi is a great surgeon and much different than other doctors because he doesn't put a brace on your leg. This way you can recover at your own pace. I was able to play basketball again in my senior year."
Today, Danielle is 24 years old and working in a physical therapy clinic. Her experience of having two surgeries and making full recoveries on each knee inspired her to start a career in physical therapy. She wanted to be an example to other athletes like herself, helping others believe they, too, can have the same great outcomes. She also recommends Dr. Longobardi to other injured athletes she knows.