Getting his life back

Dr. Bobby Agrawal at SCL Health Comprehensive Spine Center meets with Colorado State Trooper Scott Gardner. Gardner had been injured during a training exercise, herniating a disk and putting pressure on his spinal cord. Dr. Agrawal was able to help Gardner recover and return to his job and to the activities he enjoyed, such as coaching softball, playing golf, hunting and fishing.

While doing arrest control training with a fellow Colorado State Trooper, Scott Gardner caught a forearm in the side of the neck and knew immediately that something was very wrong. “I tried to shake it off,” Gardner said, “but when I woke up the next morning my right arm was numb, and I had tingling in my fingers. I knew I needed urgent medical attention.”

Gardner’s primary care physician referred him to Dr. Bobby Agrawal at the SCL Health Comprehensive Spine Center. Using MRI technology to precisely diagnose the extent of Scott’s injury, Dr. Agrawal recommended immediate surgery.

“Our first goal is to get our patients back to their normal lives with non-surgical treatment if possible” said Dr. Agrawal, “but Scott’s injury was severe enough that surgery was the only real option. He had a huge disk herniation that was pushing on his spinal cord and was in real trouble. In fact, I was surprised he was able to move at all.”

“Frankly, I was terrified,” said Gardner. “I wondered if I was ever going to be able to get back to my job as a state trooper and the lifestyle I love: playing golf, hunting, fishing, and coaching my daughter’s softball team. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get my life back.”

Dr. Agrawal shared the results of the MRI with Gardner, which clearly showed the extent of his injury. “Together we decided that the best way to get him back to his life was to perform fusion surgery to take pressure off his spinal cord.”

As St. Mary’s medical director of spine surgery, Dr. Agrawal is part of a multi-disciplinary team. “We do some of the most complex surgeries that are being performed in the region, and St. Mary’s supports us with state-of-the-art technology to aid in both diagnosis and surgery. We see hundreds of patients each year, providing treatment that ranges from basic non-surgical pain relief to very complex surgeries such as what Scott had.”

Beyond the expertise and technology, Dr. Agrawal and his team bring a personal approach to patient care. “We pride ourselves on developing a relationship with each of our patients,” said Dr Agrawal, “We look at each patient as a whole person, not just a neurosurgery patient, and take the time to understand everything that’s going on with their lives so we can treat them in the most appropriate way. We’re just people here to help other people get their lives back.”

“It put my mind at ease getting to know the person who was going to perform surgery on me,” adds Gardner. “Dr. Agrawal explained what the risks were and made sure I understood what was going to happen before, during and after surgery. He got to know me and genuinely cared about me as a person. That was a big deal: to be able to relate to the doctor and know he relates to me and the lifestyle I want to regain. That was a big part of my recovery. I got my confidence and the strength back to do my job and returned to full duty. I was also able to go back to coaching softball and the other activities I love. Without the surgery I wouldn’t have gotten there. Dr. Agrawal and his team truly helped me get my life back,” Gardner said.

State trooper injured during training returns to duty and recreation with the help of the SCL Health Comprehensive Spine Center

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