“The surgery went extremely well, which you can expect from Lahey Clinic.”
On November 26, 2009, the Falmouth Clippers were facing the Red Raiders from Barnstable, Mass. in the Thanksgiving Day football game. Early in the third quarter, Cody Murray – a 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker for the Clippers – broke through the Red Raider line to attempt a punt block. He jumped, but when he landed, his left foot came down half on the infield clay and half on the grass. His leg locked and, as he fell, a teammate landed on top of him, twisting Murray’s leg underneath him.
The resulting injuries were so extensive that they nearly ended 17-year-old Cody’s involvement in sports forever. His knee was dislocated; his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) were all torn; his hamstring and calf muscles were also torn, as were other tendons and cartilage. In addition, he could not lift his left foot because significant damage to his common peroneal nerve was causing foot drop.
Cody was initially taken by ambulance to Falmouth Hospital, and his parents were told that there was a chance the leg would have to be amputated, which luckily was not necessary. Once he was stabilized, he was transferred to Brigham & Women’s Hospital for evaluation of potential vascular damage and released.
The following weekend, when the pain had not subsided, he came to Lahey Clinic and was admitted for observation. Soon thereafter, a multidisciplinary team—led by orthopedic surgeon, Joshua Baumfeld, MD—began the extensive process of repairing Cody’s leg and foot. The hope was for Cody to be able to walk again; his future in sports was unclear.
For a three-sport star athlete (hockey, lacrosse and football), the news that he might never play any sports again was devastating. And it was a scenario that Cody refused to accept.
Although the severity of his injuries kept him out of school for the remainder of the 2009-2010 school year and he had to repeat his junior year in 2010, Cody approached his rehabilitation with a positive attitude and a will to succeed. “I was used to being so active. Not being able to stand or walk or really do anything on my own was frustrating.” So he worked with his doctors and therapists to set goals and track milestones, such as pedaling a full revolution on the exercise bike and after a second surgery to repair his nerve damage, walking without a brace.
Initially, Cody’s doctors had to reconstruct his ACL, PCL, LCL and the posterolateral corner of his knee using cadaver ligaments in addition to repairing his capsule, meniscus and hamstring tendon. They hoped that the nerve on the outside of his knee, which controls sensation on the top of the knee and the ability to bring the foot up, would eventually regenerate on its own.
But seven months after the initial surgery, the nerve still wasn’t responding and showed no signs of improvement. So Cody headed back to Lahey for a second surgery to perform a tendon transfer that would hopefully restore the dorsiflexion to his foot. This time, Dr. Baumfeld enlisted the expertise of several foot, ankle, and hand surgeons to perform a tendon transfer and a neurolysis of the peroneal nerve to restore Cody’s motor functions.
More than two and a half years, two surgeries, and countless hours of rehabilitation later, Murray not only can walk, but as a senior was caption of the football, hockey and lacrosse teams at Falmouth High. He is now playing football for Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. He is still not 100 percent, but he continues to improve and the knee that once benched him barely bothers him at all.
“I’m not going to lie. The last few years have been rough. But I couldn’t give up on the idea that I would eventually get to play again. It became almost an obsession. I am so grateful to Lahey and to Dr. Baumfeld for putting me back together and to my friends and family who stood by me and never let me get too disheartened,” Cody said.