Author: Connor Ertz

What you should know about knee instability and dislocations in young athletes

lead image Milewski patellofemoral instability

Pain in the kneecap (patella) is very common in young athletes. It’s estimated that up to 15% of adolescents get some degree of patellofemoral pain. Most can be treated with rest, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and sometimes rehab exercises. But instability of the patella — known as patellofemoral instability — is relatively less common, and more worrisome for children and adolescents.

The term “patellofemoral instability” can refer to either a traumatic injury in which a person dislocates their patella, or just general instability in the knee that a person may feel or a physician may observe upon examination. In both cases, it’s important the individual receives the proper treatment in order to avoid long-term damage.

Thriving talked to Dr. Matthew Milewski, a pediatric orthopedic sports medicine surgeon in Boston Children’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center, about what kids and parents should be aware of if they experience this knee condition.

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Teamwork and toughness: Living with cerebral palsy

María Sordo cerebral palsy Thriving lead image

Growing up in Querétaro, Mexico, María was an exceptionally bright and inquisitive child. At just 18 months old, she spoke at the level of a 6-year-old, and could even sing the tongue-twisting “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” song. Her parents marveled at her intelligence at such a young age, but there was something in her development that seemed off.

“At 1 year, she wasn’t crawling well and had difficulty standing,” her mother, María José, recalls. “She hadn’t learned to walk by 18 months, and she would crawl by pulling her two legs at the same time — like a little bunny.” Her parents knew that something was wrong, so they took her to see a pediatrician in their home country of Mexico.

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Julia Marino’s Olympic story: Achieving after injury

Julia Marino lead image Thriving

Julia Marino is always thinking about her story, and it would be hard not too, given how much of an adventure her life has been so far. “Being adopted out of Paraguay to have a normal life in America would’ve been enough of a story itself,” she says. “But I’ve had the chance to live a life beyond what anybody could even dream of.”

As an Olympic skier, Julia has been competing at the top of her sport for almost a decade. In 2014, she reached the pinnacle of snow sports at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But how she got there – and where she plans on going now – was heavily influenced by a devastating knee injury just a few years before the Olympics.

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Teagan’s triumphant return: Dancing after Perthes disease

Teagan Keefe dance pose lead image

Teagan has lived and breathed dance — ballet, jazz, tap, and more — since she was 5 years old. “It’s what makes me happy,” the now 12-year-old says. But two years ago, she started to feel pain in her hip that persisted after dance class and worsened over time. As her spring dance season wrapped up with four shows in two days, Teagan ended the final show with her pain at its worst.

But since her injury didn’t seem to be anything more than a minor muscle pull, her mother Jeannine had Teagan lay low over the summer, hoping that rest would help the pain go away. When dance classes started again in September, her dance teacher noticed that Teagan lacked the flexibility to do the moves she normally could. She recommended that Jeannine take her daughter to Boston Children’s.

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