Due to a severely torn rotator cuff, Russ was unable to hike, ski, and hunt

Russ Kocher spent his entire professional career working in retail as a store manager for National Lumber and Home Depot for the better part of 40 years. While he was used to working long hours and being on his feet, his passion as an outdoor extremist would proudly occupy his free time.

“I love fishing, backpacking, hiking and mountain climbing,” said Russ. “You name it, I did it. My favorite activities were skiing and hunting; I was even a member of the National Ski Patrol working at Bogus Basin.”

A serious ski injury led to a torn rotator cuff and recovery

Like most days, Russ would either work the mountain or ski on his off days. Of course, today was different from all the others.

“On January 8th, 2019, I was skiing (not working this day) on a run that I have literally skied a thousand times before. However, on this day, I was experiencing a condition called “flat light.” This is a condition where everything looks the same such as the slope and the sky. There is no definition between these objects, which is extremely scary at any point in time, but especially while trying to navigate an aggressive ski slope.”

Thinking he was at the trail, Russ had to traverse out of this area to make it down the run. He skied out to find himself about eight feet above it and gravity took over. He fell on to his left shoulder, and unfortunately blew out his rotator cuff and labrum, which lead to severe tears in both areas.

Since Russ is a first responder on the hill, he immediately recognized the seriousness of his injury. His first thought after leaving the mountain was to call April Reed, Dr. Lynch’s nurse, and a personal friend of Russ’s wife who also happens to be an R.N. The next morning, he made the call. Fast-forward to February 12th, Russ went in for an arthroscopic repair of his rotator cuff and traditional repair to the labrum.

Following a rotator cuff repair, Russ returned to participating in extreme sports

He had one future goal in mind: To hunt with his new bow by August 15th.  Both Dr. Lynch and April were supportive of Russ’s efforts, while also cautioning him to not overdo it. As a 68-year-old, he was naturally worried that his outdoor activities were going to be curtailed. When asked about his biggest fear, Russ said, “I was afraid I would never be able to participate in my favorite outdoor hobbies again.” According to Russ, Dr. Lynch was extremely personable.

“He was honest, friendly, and knowledgeable, which set my mind at ease. He’s the kind of guy that you meet and want to hang out with outside of the medical office.”

Following his successful surgery, Russ was given exercises by Dr. Lynch to perform, which he followed religiously. Candidly, Russ said,

”I am not the most disciplined person when it comes to regimented exercise. With the encouragement from Dr. Lynch’s team, I was able to change my modus operandi. I was able to rehab my shoulder to hunt antelope and elk with my bow again by my August 15th goal! I consider Dr. Lynch to be a top-notch surgeon and my heartfelt thanks go to him, April, and the entire staff at the clinic for their care and professionalism.”

What’s next for Russ? A return to normalcy coupled with plenty of skiing, hunting and white water rafting.

“I skied for the first time on November 30th, 2019 and am happy to say all systems are a go!”


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