Violinist Plays for Those who Saved His Arm

Violinist Plays for Those who Saved His Arm

violinist-hospital-lobby.jpgKen Wollberg, a classically trained violinist, returned to the hospital where surgeons reattached his triceps and tissue to show his appreciation with a concert. Wollberg thought he might never be able to play music again after a trucking accident, but after months of therapy, one revision surgery and a lot of stretching, he was finally able to resume his love affair with the violin.

Wollberg, 59, of Goreville, IL, worked in the truck driving business. The accident occurred two days after Christmas in 2007. He and his wife had just entered Montana on the way to Portland, OR, when the roads suddenly became icy. The stack of three trailers slid on the ice and then caused the truck to turn on its side. The truck was totaled; the accident sheared bone off Wollberg’s left elbow and damaged his triceps. “Strangely, I wasn’t in a lot of pain,” he said. “But I couldn’t do anything with my elbow.”

Wollberg is a classically trained musician. He has been playing the violin since he was nine years old. He received a master’s degree in viola performance from the University of Iowa and has been teaching violin lessons for 28 years. His wife Peggy is a former English as Second Language teacher. Six years ago, he and his wife got into the semi-trailer truck driving business to help make ends meet.

Jay Keener, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and Ida Fox, MD, a plastic surgeon, spent eight hours to reattach the triceps and cover the wound with soft tissue. Today, the Wollbergs are phasing out of the truck driving business after the surgeons told him that he can no longer drive a big rig.

But he was able to resume playing and on January 23, 2009, he performed at Barnes-Jewish to say thanks to the doctors that got him back on track.

A true classical music aficionado, Wollberg says he loves listening to Bach. “He is every musician’s favorite composer,” he says. “I can’t get enough of Bach.”

He played Bach, as well as Heart and Soul.

 He also played four concerts in the fall with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra. He has also recently accepted an offer to be the new fiddler for the Carefree Highway Band, a bluegrass group based in western Kentucky. “Being able to play is great therapy for me,” says Wollberg.

See a short video clip of his performance in the stately lobby of Barnes-Jewish, from the hospital’s News Room page.