Patient Stories

David J. Novak, MD

Playing in the Virginia state championship game in 2011, star outside linebacker Ken Ekanem wanted nothing more than to bring home the trophy for his Centreville High School team. Instead, he found himself on the ground, in pain, with a torn ACL. He watched the rest of the game from the sidelines as his team went down to defeat.
 
Ken knew the injury was bad and worried it might end his chances of playing football in college. He needed to find an orthopedic surgeon who could restore stability to his knee and return him to a high level of competition quickly. 
 
Just about everybody he asked recommended David Novak, MD, at OrthoVirginia, who performed an ACL reconstruction with autograft hamstring tendons. In this procedure, tissue from the patient’s body is used to rebuild the ligament in the center of the knee and provide stability. The autograft method is recommended for patients like Ken who want to return to a high-demand, athletic lifestyle.
 
Following surgery, Ken underwent several grueling weeks of rehabilitation at OrthoVirginia’s Reston location. He made huge strides and hit milestones ahead of schedule. He was cleared to play at Virginia Tech in mid-summer, with a month to get ready for fall camp.
 
Ken went on to play four years of football at Virginia Tech. He attended the NFL combine, the annual event where medical staff evaluate players in preparation for the draft and his knee was put to the test. “It was a grueling process with four or five docs working on me at a time,” he says. “They pushed and pulled my leg in every direction and they all said my knee was totally secure. They were really impressed with the job Dr. Novak did.”
 
Ken calls his ACL tear a ‘speed bump’ that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “When the injury took me out of football, it dawned on me just how much I love the game,” he says. “I was willing to do whatever it took to make it back on the field and play the sport I love.”