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Local Athlete Returns to Play, Moves on to OSU

Tanner Sanders has a lot on his mind as he finishes up his senior year at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis. The 18-year-old quarterback is focused on doing well in his final high school classes and competing this spring in his last baseball season. He’s also excited about his commitment to play football for Oregon State University after graduation. What he’s not concerned about — at least not anymore — is a serious shoulder injury that sidelined him for months earlier in his high school career.

“I often forget about it until I see my scar in the mirror,” said Tanner. “There was a time when it was on my mind a lot, but now I’m full strength and I just have a cool scar.”

The injury occurred during Tanner’s sophomore season while playing a game against Lebanon High School.

“It was the fifth game of the season and Tanner was in at quarterback when he rolled out of the pocket and got hit hard by a defender,” recalled Tanner’s father, Scott. “He separated his left shoulder (non-throwing) and all four ligaments were torn.”

The Sanders family consulted a number of physicians and trainers to decide what to do next. Some athletes with a separated shoulder continue to play with the injury, expecting that the ligaments will heal on their own over time. But the Sanders chose to repair the ligaments and turned to orthopedic surgeon Luis Vela, DO, to perform the surgery.

“I didn’t want to take the risk of not healing properly and having a weak shoulder,” said Tanner. “I wanted it fixed once and for all. My parents did a lot of research and picked Dr. Vela to do the surgery.”

Tanner had a reconstruction of his acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which left him immobilized for four weeks before beginning a rehab program lasting approximately three months.

“Dr. Vela talked us through the entire process — from surgery through rehab — and everything went exactly as planned,” said Scott. “I’m very happy with how everything went,” said Tanner. “I think my left shoulder is now stronger than ever before. I feel good and prepared to have a great football career.”

Luis Vela, DO, practices at Samaritan Medical Group Hand to Shoulder Orthopedics – Corvallis and can be reached at 541-768-6300.