Ricky Sebastian

Ricky Sebastian started playing the drums when he was 8 years old. Now with decades of experience, Ricky is a renowned, premier drummer who lives, works, teaches and plays in New Orleans.

Thanks to a motorcycle accident – and overuse from his lifelong drumming career – Ricky’s right shoulder was injured and painful. He had surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear. A few years later the pain returned, as his body had rejected the hardware used in the earlier procedure. Ricky then sought out the expertise of Dr. Michael O’Brien, shoulder and elbow surgeon at the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine. A MRI scan showed that Ricky’s shoulder needed to be repaired again. Dr. O’Brien was up to the challenge and happy to help.

“I looked for someone that treated athletes because I thought that experience would be valuable,” Ricky said. “I knew that Dr. O’Brien and the Tulane sports medicine team were aware of current research and technology that could help my case.”

The Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine (TISM) uses a team approach with physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists and other professionals who work together to treat and prevent sports-related and other injuries. Students, professional athletes, weekend warriors — and even musicians like Ricky — come to TISM for care that is tailored to their needs and goals. The TISM team can help people perform at their best, prevent injuries and safeguard future quality of life.

Because TISM has experts in injuries and risks related to all kinds of sports, the team knows how to treat them effectively, when it’s safe to get back to activity and how to help prevent future problems. From diagnosis through repair or treatment and rehabilitation, the TISM team works with patients to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Dr. O’Brien performed a right shoulder revision rotator cuff repair, using a bone grafting technique and adding a collagen patch to help the rotator cuff heal. “I knew what I was getting into,” Ricky said. “I had to emotionally prepare for the surgery, and I knew the recovery could be hard.”

Usual recovery from this surgery can take nine months to a year. Ricky completed five months of physical therapy at PT Solutions at Tulane as part of his recovery, in addition to doing exercises at home. He got back into the gym to exercise, when he and his care team thought he was ready to do so. Ricky credits his physical therapy team for helping him to progress through his recovery.

For other people facing shoulder surgery, Ricky said, “Take the physical therapy and home exercises seriously. It’s important for a faster recovery.”

“Now, I’m in less and less pain every day,” he added. “I’m done with physical therapy and no longer need any pain medications. I can exercise at the gym. I started performing music again and teaching drum set lessons to students.

“Dr. O’Brien did an excellent job. I’m very pleased so far.”

Ricky can be found playing the occasional gig around New Orleans. He is a professor at the University of New Orleans in the department of music’s jazz studies program. Ricky is also on the faculty at the Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music, a free music program where students from the greater New Orleans region learn how to play jazz. In addition, Ricky teaches students privately in his studio at “Spreading the Music,” a small music school in uptown New Orleans.

For more information about Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine or to make an appointment, call (504) 988-8476.