Jaw fracture can’t stop U.S. figure skater bound for national competition

image[1]Twenty-two-year-old U.S. figure skater Alexandria “Alex” Shaughnessy has been lacing up her skates since she was four-years-old.

With countless hours, days and years of preparation supporting her craft, Alex and her partner, New Hampshire native James “Jimmy” Morgan are gearing up to showcase their artistry before a national audience at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, NC, Jan. 17-25.

“I am beyond excited for this upcoming U.S. championship,” says Alex, who grew up in Duxbury, Massachusetts. “I feel ready and confident.”

But getting ready for this competition was far from an easy task, Alex says.

Late summer, 2014, and in preparation for the duo’s first senior level international competition held last fall, Shaughnessy’s career took an unforeseen detour. While she and Jimmy were practicing at their home rink in Boston, Alex fell on the ice, and her chin absorbed the full impact of the fall.

“We were working on our normal long program—probably one of the best programs we had ever done—and we were psyched,” Alex recalls.

“We did our last lift and we tripped. I was in front and my partner had my hands, so the first thing I hit on the ice was my chin. It was just a weird, crazy thing,” she says.

Trusting Boston Children’s

Because Alex previously received care from Boston Children’s Sports Medicine Clinic, her coach quickly transported her to the hospital.

“I have been going to Boston Children’s since I was 11-years-old for skating-related care, and I have seen many doctors there,” she says. “And because of this, my parents and I really trust Boston Children’s.”

Upon arrival,  Boston Children’s Plastic and Oral Surgery’s Cory Resnick, MD, DMD, and Man Wai Ng, DDS, MPH, the hospital’s Chief of Dentistry, quickly conducted a full examination. Here, they determined Alex sustained multiple jaw fractures and fractured four teeth.

At that point, all I wanted was to be put back together,” she says.

Resnick and his team were happy to assist.

Alex Shaughnessy during recovery
Alex Shaughnessy in recovery

During the outpatient surgery, Resnick implanted a titanium plate with screws in Alex’s lower jaw and wired her teeth together to help further align the fractures. In the weeks following the surgery, Alex was restricted to a high-protein, high-calorie, liquid and soft-food diet.

“I never really lost my appetite,” she says. “But after the liquid [diet], I had a major appetite for real foods. All I wanted was scrambled eggs or avocado and cheese.”

Recovery and back to the ice

Three months after her fall, Alex was given the green light to return to the sport she treasures.

“Alex progressed very well and returned to full skating,” Resnick says.

Alex S. & Dr. Resnick

Without hesitation, training resumed. In November, the Boston pair competed in the Eastern Sectionals in Raleigh, North Carolina where they took home second place honors.

Next on the docket, they proudly say, is the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in North Carolina.

“After the year I have had, I am over the moon happy to compete,” Alex says.

Not just for children

Alex Shaughnessy doublesThroughout her medical journey, Alex says she felt at ease knowing she was receiving her care at Boston Children’s.

“It was so comforting to know I was getting my care at Boston Children’s Hospital and getting the best treatment,” Alex said. “I had great doctors, and they took very good care of me.”

View this page to learn more about how to prevent ice skating injury.