For Jack Kelly, ice hockey was always the end game.
As a teenager on a highly competitive high school team in the late 1990s, the Boston native was a standout player. During a particularly contentious faceoff, 13-year-old Kelly was checked by an opponent and dislocated his shoulder. Despite rest and physical therapy, his penchant for fast, energetic play exacerbated the injury. After two years of pain, he underwent rotator cuff surgery and was prescribed an unfamiliar medication — Percocet — as part of his care plan.
“I was very naïve to opioid pain medicine,” Kelly shared during a Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub) event, “Solving the Crisis with Opioid and Pain Innovations,” on April 2. “When people in my community saw my arm in a sling, they began to ask me what I had been given for pain medication and offered me money in exchange for it. It was fascinating — I remember asking myself, ‘Why do they care this much?’”
The iHub event, hosted in partnership with MassChallenge HealthTech, welcomed experts from across Brigham Health and the Boston digital health community to discuss current innovative initiatives and opportunities for future innovation in caring for and managing pain. Kelly was its keynote speaker.
The interest that others had in Kelly’s prescribed painkillers planted a seed of curiosity in the young boy’s mind. Cooped up at home after school due to his injury, he realized that, for as far as he could remember, he had nothing to do until his shoulder healed.