Lacrosse coach back on the field after surgery

Coach George Morville ready for 2014 season


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Kittatinny High School boys lacrosse head coach George Morville has been playing lacrosse since 1969 and began coaching after ending his semi-pro career.

“Through a lifetime of sports and an accident on a snowmobile I did quite a bit of damage to my spine," the 60-year-old said. "Beyond sports, not being able to spend quality time with my four children or pick up and play with my four grandchildren was tearing me apart.”

Morville had battled through back pain for multiple seasons, fearing that surgery would hinder his ability to coach. It was only when the pain limited his ability to coach that he decided a further intervention was needed.

“By the second game of the 2013 season I was having trouble getting off the field," Morville said. "By the third game I had the kids coming up to me asking me if I was going to make it through the game, and by the end of the season I could not even walk. I don’t think I was fooling anyone at that point."

“I was no longer the coach I knew I could be. I could instruct them but I couldn’t get on the field and show them. At that point it was either seek treatment or quit coaching,” he said.

Morville sought the expertise of orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. James Dwyer, of Spine Surgery Associates in Sparta.

“The biggest issue for George was that one of his spinal discs was crushing one of his spinal nerves. Second to that, the disc was unstable. Just like when a player injures his ACL and can not pivot on their knee, this is similar in that the patient can not turn, twist or bear weight on the spine,” Dwyer said.

In July 2013 Coach Morville decided that it was time to correct the problem if he wanted to be ready for the 2014 season.

Doctors recommended a minimally invasive procedure known as a Transforaminal Interbody Fusion.

“Using this procedure we remove the damaged disc to alleviate the pressure on the spinal nerves. Once the disc is removed, it needs to be replaced with something to stabilize the spine. For this we use bone and place it in the empty disc space. This bone allows the vertebrae to naturally knit back together and form one stabilized vertebrae,” said Dwyer. “This entire procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and usually requires an incision of about an inch.”

For Morville his coaching future was predicated on the outcome of the surgery.

He knew that if the pain was not alleviated it would most likely be the end of his coaching career.

“After surgery the pain that had plagued me for 24 months was completely gone,” said Morville. “Here I am just a few months after surgery and I am warming up goalies, teaching kids full face dodges and roll dodges. Most importantly, I am able to do it without pain.”

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