Author: Connor Ertz

Eliza’s story: Refocusing her athletic identity after multiple ACL tears

Eliza Hampsch Thriving lead image field hockey ACL sports psychology
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ELIZA HAMPSCH

When a high school athlete has designed their identity around a sport and the potential of a future in collegiate athletics, suffering an ACL tear can feel like the body’s ultimate betrayal. An ACL tear is a traumatic and painful injury that can leave an athlete on the sidelines for up to a year, seriously delaying any progress they might have been making in their sport. But multiple ACL tears, one right after the other, can be devastating for a promising high school athlete not only physically, but emotionally as well.

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From brachial plexus birth injury to Division I athlete

Piper Hampsch lead image Thriving blog brachial plexus birth injury field hockey Duke
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF HAMPSCH FAMILY

“Other players and coaches don’t see the powerlessness behind my condition, or the struggles I’ve had to go through to get to where I’m at. They just see me making saves other people can’t make. It doesn’t matter if I have two arms, one arm or no arms.  As long as I make the save, they don’t care.” – Piper Hampsch

Piper is one of the best high school field hockey goalies in the country. She committed to Duke University last year as a sophomore, and will be playing college field hockey in 2020. In case you don’t closely follow collegiate field hockey, Duke was #1 in the nation last year in the final NCAA rankings. Safe to say, Piper is exceptional in her sport, and other teams and players take notice. But many of the athletes she plays against are unaware that Piper was also exceptional at birth.

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Nate’s All-Star recovery from an ACL tear

Nate, who had ACL reconstruction physeal sparing surgery, bats during a game

Just a few decades ago, a child tearing their ACL would lead to years of reduced activity and inability to participate in sports. Surgical reconstruction was not an option, given that the procedure required drilling through the growth plate, and would disrupt future growth in the child’s affected leg.

But in 1976, Lyle Micheli, MD, director of the Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital, pioneered a new growth plate-sparing ACL reconstruction procedure for growing children. Known as physeal-sparing ACL reconstruction, the procedure has been used to reconstruct ACLs in prepubescent kids at Boston Children’s ever since.

This is the procedure that Nate — a 12-year-old star baseball player at the time — underwent in 2013, after tearing his ACL playing football. Rather than rush into an ACL reconstruction surgery in their home state of Maine, Nate’s family researched the best ACL surgeons, and were ultimately referred to Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH, associate director of the Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s.

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What parents of musicians should know about upper extremity injuries

Andrea Bauer Thriving lead image nerve injuries upper extremity musicians

When it comes to orthopedic injuries, sports are usually talked about as high-risk activities, but it’s not often we consider the risk that musicians take when playing an instrument for hours every day.

Musicians can get overuse injuries the same way that athletes do, and are at risk for neck and back injuries, as well as shoulder strain. In particular, nerve injuries in the upper extremities are quite common amongst string instrument musicians, as they tend to hold their instruments in abnormal positions for long periods of time.

While parents may not think that their kid playing an instrument could come with potential injury hazards, these conditions can leave a child or young adult in pain and unable to play. Andrea Bauer, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program at Boston Children’s Hospital details how these injuries occur and what parents should look out for.

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