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Midwest Orthopaedics Sports

College student’s life is uphill again after skiing accident

The morning that Mary Kate Sullivan, 19, woke up to go skiing with her dad at Alpine Valley, WI, she had an “odd feeling.” She explains, “I just felt like something was going to happen that day.”

Unfortunately, her premonition proved correct.

On one of her first downhill runs of the day, she tripped on the end of a ski and fell on packed ice beneath the snow. She landed hard on her right arm and heard a ‘snap.’ Frightened, she called out for her dad who immediately alerted the ski patrol. After being transported down the hill on a sled, ski patrol arranged for an examination by a local urgent care physician.

“Even though it was my arm, I could barely walk; it hurt so bad,” Sullivan says. “The doctor ordered an x-ray and once he saw it, he said, ‘go home and have surgery as soon as possible.’”

What he saw on the x-raywas a humerus (the long bone in the arm that runs from the shoulder to the elbow) broken in three places. A serious injury.

Once home in Chicago, the Sullivans searched for the best surgeon to repair her arm. A neighbor told them about Dr. Brian Forsythe, a sports medicine surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. They researched him online and called for an appointment right away.

During Dr. Forsythe’s examination of Sullivan, he shared that he had also experienced a ski injury. He resolved to get her back to skiing and doing all the other activities that she enjoyed. Sullivan told him she had been a very competitive dancer and was looking forward to getting back to full movement.

“This all happened during COVID,so I was really scared to go through all of this without my parents,” Sullivan said. “Dr. Forsythe reassured me that his team would be with me every step of the way and would closely communicate with my parents.”

Sullivan underwent surgery at the Munster Specialty Surgery Center and went home the same day. Dr. Forsythe successfully repaired her fractures with a metal plate and pins.

“Mary Kate sustained a pretty significant break of her humerus,” Dr. Forsythe explains. “Without the surgery and her dedicated approach to rehab, she never would have realized this level of success.”

Now, seven months following her accident, Sullivan is back to school at the University of Illinois in Champaign and her injury is a thing of the past. “I feel really good now,” she says. “Sometimes I forget that I broke my arm pretty badly.”

She is enjoying a full range of motion in her arm again. “I really appreciate the little things in life now, like being able to do my own hair,” she explains.

Sullivan credits Dr. Forsythe with getting her back to a normal college life. “He saved my arm,” she says. “With any other doctor, I may have had a permanent deformity.”

To discuss your sports injury with Dr. Brian Forsythe, please call 877.MD.BONES or visit