Broken Shoulder Doesn’t Break Stride for Marlboro, New Jersey, Girl   

Broken Shoulder Doesn’t Break Stride for Marlboro, New Jersey, Girl

Grace Doherty

March 09, 2022

Ever since she could talk, Grace Doherty wanted to ride a horse. But when the Marlboro, New Jersey, girl fell off one of her favorites, Lady Bug, during an equestrian show in October 2021, the 11-year-old was alarmed to learn her painfully injured arm couldn’t be treated at a local urgent care center.

Fortunately, specialists at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center were up to the task, skillfully shepherding the fifth-grader and her parents through minimally invasive surgery that reset her badly broken shoulder and offered Grace a new perspective on everyday pleasures.

Unusual Fracture, Straightforward Approach

Still dressed in formal horse show attire, Grace was immediately evaluated at the Children’s Hospital, where Marie Grace Ponce, M.D., helped control her pain and set up diagnostic tests. A series of X-rays were necessary to determine the full extent of Grace’s fracture, which had disfigured her shoulder so seriously that the ball-shaped portion of her upper arm bone had formed a lump behind the joint.

“Grace’s bone broke in two pieces that were so far apart from each other—and at such a big angle—it was basically like the scoop fell off an ice cream cone,” says pediatric orthopedic surgeon Jonathon Lentz, D.O. “In kids, a lot of times her type of fracture heals really well, even if it’s broken badly. But Grace was one of the rare cases that required surgery to make sure she would have normal function of her arm down the line.” 

Fortunately, Dr. Lentz was able to drive three long metal pins across the fracture to stabilize the joint during a minimally invasive procedure that averted the need for major surgery.

“It really was a matter of trusting the doctors,” says Grace’s mom, Nicole. “From how well Dr. Lentz explained things to his bedside manner, he was wonderful throughout the entire process, and he did not steer us wrong.”  

Savoring Small Pleasures

After a brief hospital stay, Grace went home to her bustling household. But the fifth grader attended school virtually so her shoulder wouldn’t get jostled as the bones mended. Four weeks later, Dr. Lentz removed the surgical pins during a brief office visit, allowing Grace to begin physical therapy to regain her shoulder strength and range of motion.  

“Without a big incision, healing is faster,” Dr. Lentz says. “Grace has a normal arm now, and if she wants to get back on a horse again, she’s cleared to do that.”

Grace, however, is taking time to reflect on her experience and decide whether her hobbies will again include horseback riding or perhaps a shift toward other pursuits. In the meantime, she’s savoring the small wins. “I like being able to eat and wash my hair by myself and throw my dog his ball,” she says. “I just like being able to use my arms again.”

Next Steps & Resources:

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