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Rotator Cuff Surgery Puts Car Salesman Back In The Driver’s Seat


Marty Altman
Marty Altman had minimally-invasive surgery to fix his shoulder, which he had damaged by slipping on ice last winter.

Ohio’s snow and ice were the downfall of Marty Altman — literally. This energetic and personable car salesperson at Joe Morgan Honda in Monroe fell outdoors in December 2010, landing on his right arm and shoulder.


“I thought it was going to heal, but after two days, it still hurt like heck,” Marty remembers.

An MRI revealed there was a tear in Marty’s rotator cuff, the muscles that connect the upper arm bone with the shoulder blade. These muscles and tendons also help hold the ball of the upper arm bone in the shoulder socket, resulting in the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body.

“People who experience a tear because of an injury may find that physical therapy and other treatments can relieve the pain,” says Matthew J. Di Paola, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Atrium, fellowship-trained in reconstructive shoulder and elbow surgery. “Each case is individual. But an active guy like Marty wanted his strength back. At age 62, he’s relatively young, he likes to golf, he’s active, so surgery to repair those tendons was a good choice for him.”

Dr. Di Paola performed rotator cuff surgery at the Ann and Arthur Bidwell Surgery Center, an outpatient surgery facility located on Atrium Medical Center’s campus.


Di Paola HS
Matthew J. Di Paola, MD Orthopedic Surgeon

“There are four tendons in the rotator cuff and Marty had damage in two of them,” Dr. Di Paola says. “We were able to repair both with arthroscopic surgery, which means a smaller incision. Unlike the past when we had to detach the deltoid muscle (the muscle that gives the shoulder its rounded shape), this surgery is far less invasive and makes for a quicker recovery.”


Dr. Di Paola points out that new research has shown that the sooner a rotator cuff repair is made, the greater the chances for a full recovery. The success of rotator cuff surgery is also dependent on the patient’s willingness to do therapy and exercises.

“I really like Dr. Di Paola and did everything I was told to be able to get back to work and on with my life,” Marty says with a laugh. “Within a few months, I had almost no pain at all. Every week I felt stronger, and in spring, I’m going out on the golf course again.”

If you’re preparing for orthopedic surgery, find out what to expect in one of our educational programs.

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