Stories about: ACL

From basketball to tennis: ACL tear can’t keep teen athlete off the court

McCartyWill_PostACLsurgeryAt 12 years old, Will McCarty loved basketball. His summer was planned out—basketball camp and tournament play would prep him for his seventh grade basketball team. Everything was going according to plan—until he stepped on a ball while making a layup.

“We thought it was a simple injury,” says his father Bill. A few days after the injury, he seemed fine. When he tried to run, though, his knee buckled. His parents took Will to his doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Manchester, N.H.

A few days later, after the swelling around Will’s knee went down, an MRI revealed a torn ACL. “It felt like a stunning diagnosis,” says Bill. An ACL tear is problematic in growing kids. That’s because ACL reconstruction requires surgeons to drill into the growth plate (the area at the end of the bone that produces new bone tissue and is responsible for bone growth). The surgery could interfere with future growth. Many surgeons recommend waiting until after puberty to perform the surgery.

“This isn’t a great alternative for growing kids,” says Mininder Kocher MD, MPH, associate director, Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital. “They remain at risk for injury with everyday activities, and with a torn ACL, they can’t play sports, which can negatively impact their emotional health.”

“Our doctor told us, ‘There’s a guy in Boston who’s the kingpin of ACL surgery for growing kids,’”recalls Bill. With that endorsement, the family made an appointment with Kocher.

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The secret to a successful ACL injury recovery

By Andrea Marx

Marx_andrea_Lacrosse_2It was a simple jump stop. It was an athletic move on the basketball court that I had performed countless times. But on July 19, 2010, the summer before my junior year of high school, a simple jump stop brought my athletic career to a screeching halt.

How could it happen to me? Since freshman year, I was a competitive three-varsity athlete in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. I had set athletic goals that I wanted to accomplish before high school graduation.

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After season-ending ACL injury, Boston skier is Olympics-bound


ACL tear

What happens when an adrenaline-addicted athlete slows down?

Julia Marino thrives at high speed and from great heights. In 2009, 17-year-old Julia was at the top of her game. Coaches and fellow slopestyle skiers had pegged her as a rising star on the World Cup circuit. Salomon, a top winter sports gear manufacturer, had signed on as her sponsor. Then, during the first event of the season, she crashed.

Crashes are common in slopestyle. Skiers hit jumps at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, flying up to 50 feet in the air to perform aerial tricks.

Julia landed awkwardly on one ski, heard a resounding pop in her left knee and felt the “most intense pain” of her life. She braced herself and skied to the medical tent.

The on-mountain medical crew insisted she wasn’t injured. But Julia and her mother doubted the diagnosis.

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ACL surgery 10 years later: an athlete looks back

The decision to proceed with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction to treat a torn ACL on a growing child can be difficult. Parents often weigh the pros and cons of surgery versus the risks of a more conservative approach with limited activity. After surgery, they wonder how to best help their child manage the difficult recovery period and return to sports. As with many parenting challenges, there is no single right answer. Nearly 10 years after his ACL surgery, University of Michigan sophomore Gabe Kahn reflects on his story.

At the age of 9, Kahn endured a spate of leg injuries that included two broken legs, a torn ACL and a torn meniscus. ACL reconstruction and rehabilitation tested the young athlete, but nearly 10 years later, “I never think about it,” he says.

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