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Taking Home the Checkered Flag: Recovery from a Brachial Plexus Injury

Grand-Am series race car driver Mark Patterson of Bronxville, New York, first came to Hospital for Special Surgery over 10 years ago, when he had his hip replaced by Thomas P. Sculco, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief. Then, in 2007, Mr. Patterson was struck by a car while riding his road bike, trying to stay in shape for racing. He almost severed a nerve in his neck and suffered damage to his brachial plexus, the network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand.

His injuries nearly resulted in the loss of muscular control of his left arm, but fortunately he returned to HSS to see physiatrist Joseph Feinberg, MD. According to Mr. Patterson, Dr. Feinberg’s diagnosis and course of treatment allowed him to compete in the series’ final race just three weeks later. “Mark sustained a very severe cervical root injury,” says Dr. Feinberg. “And although there are still some strength deficits, there has been significant neurological recovery.”

To express his gratitude, Mr. Patterson and his teammate, Oswaldo Negri, requested permission to proudly display the HSS logo on their Daytona Prototype race car for the Grand-Am Rolex Crown Royal 200 Race in Watkins Glen, New York in early August. Mr. Patterson says that by showcasing the logo, he hoped to increase awareness about HSS. He was awarded the Trueman Award for the race, presented to the non-professional driver who ends up closest to first. “The work that Hospital for Special Surgery doctors and staff do is truly amazing, and I feel tremendously fortunate to have been steered their way right from the beginning,” he says.

Mr. Patterson, who is chairman of a global distressed private equity firm, says his only regret is that he chose the wrong race at which to display the HSS logo: at a race several weeks later in New Jersey, he and Mr. Negri won first place.