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Johns Hopkins Health - Batter Up

Summer 2015
Issue No. 29

Batter Up

Date: July 2, 2015

A Johns Hopkins vascular surgeon got pitcher Aaron Hoover back in the game.


In 2013, Aaron Hoover stood on a pitching mound, staring down the second batter of the inning. The then-sophomore at James Madison University let loose a fastball, a strike. That’s when his shoulder cried out. The pain ended his inning—and threatened his collegiate career.

Over the next few days, Hoover’s clavicle area and arms swelled. A local physician diagnosed thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), a rare condition that can affect anyone whose upper body is in regular motion.  

The thoracic outlet lies between the neck and the armpit and houses nerves and blood vessels. TOS occurs when muscles or the first rib presses against one of the nerves or vessels of the area, potentially impairing blood flow.

Hoover’s team physician recommended he go to Johns Hopkins to see vascular surgeon Ying Wei Lum, M.D., one of the country’s few experts on TOS. “Once Dr. Lum told me he’d had swimmers return to full activity,” says Hoover, “I knew he was the right doctor for me.”

Hoover’s particular case of TOS required surgery to eliminate the risk of reclotting, says Lum, who used a small incision to remove the rib. After physical therapy, Hoover was able to suit up in 2014. Today he’s a starting pitcher and is preparing for the Army.

Hoover is aware that pursuing such a physically demanding career would not be possible without the care he received at Johns Hopkins.

“I’ve always been attracted to the physical lifestyle of the military,” he says. “I’d thought about law enforcement, but, hey, I’m young and can use my body, so let’s do it.”


Aaron Hoover's Story

Aaron Hoover began experiencing pain and discomfort in his shoulder while pitching in a college baseball game. After Aaron's doctor discovered a blood clot and diagnosed him with thoracic outlet syndrome, he was referred to Dr. Ying Wei Lum at the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Watch Aaron's story of surgical treatment, rehabilitation and recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome.

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Watch Dr. Ying Wei Lum discuss the causes, symptoms and risk factors of thoracic outlet syndrome. To schedule an appointment with the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Clinic, call is 410-955-5165.

You can learn more about thoracic outlet syndrome here.

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