Stories about: Division of Sports Medicine

A dream deferred but not denied by ACL tear

Emily plays soccer before her ACL tear.

The dream of playing college soccer was within reach. Emily had been working on her game since she was four years old, and at 16 was now co-captain of both her high school and club teams. Colleges were taking note.

Just three games into club season, Emily was on the field in North Carolina, running back to her net when she tore her left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). She heard her knee pop, and knew immediately what had happened. “I’ve always had a high tolerance for pain, but that definitely raised the bar,” she says. Her mother Lauri can still hear her daughter’s screams from that day as she watched the event unfold from the sidelines.

Six months later, Emily is tackling recovery the same way she tackles life. “Emily is a go-getter,” says Lauri. “In school and in soccer, she works and works and works — she just never stops.”

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How to stay safe on the football field: Learning from the NCAA

sports-medicine-boston-children's

Even with the known risk of injury, football is as popular as ever among kids and teens. How can parents encourage their QBs-in-training to enjoy playing the game while staying safe? Dr. William MeehanBoston Children’s Sports Medicine physician and director of The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention says the answer is clear: Follow the rules.

Meehan participated in the development of a new policy released in January by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) limiting contact in year-round college football practice. He says, these regulations “should translate to a decreased incidence of concussion.”

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Victoria perseveres: Knee surgery brings new possibilities

patellar femoral dislocation“Last can be better than first.  It can be bigger than anything when getting there wasn’t supposed to happen,” says Chris Voye, a few hours after his 12-year-old daughter Victoria’s first cross-country meet.

Victoria fell in love with running six years earlier during a summer track program. She had hoped to participate the following summer, but began experiencing problems with her knees.

“It started when I was in second grade,” recalls Victoria. She’d be running or jumping, and one of her kneecaps would slide to the side. She’d stumble and fall. The condition affected both knees.

When she was 8, Victoria was diagnosed with patellar instability; her kneecaps regularly dislocated.

After three knee surgeries between the ages of 9 and 11, doctors cautioned Victoria she might never run again.

And for two years after that warning, Victoria didn’t run.

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First-of-its-kind knee surgery gets Ashley in the swing

meniscus transplantSixteen-year-old Ashley Meyer never planned to golf. At age 5, she had a different plan. She wanted to cheer — and to be the best cheerleader.

Ashley never planned to be a Red Sox fan either. But during baseball season, the Philadelphia native shuns Phillies wear, donning Red Sox garb instead. And when basketball season rolls around, she’s often sporting Celtics’ green rather than 76ers’ blue.

We knew right away. Ashley turned to me and said, ‘Mom, he’s the one who will fix me.’

“We call her the Philly traitor,” jokes Ashley’s mom Loreen, a nurse at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.

Nicknames aside, Loreen and her husband Robert are fine with their daughter’s affinity for Boston.

After all, it’s the city where Ashley regained her mobility.

Ashley’s health challenges started when she was 5. Her knee would click and lock.

Although Ashley always seemed to be smiling, the pain often kept her from running or playing, says Loreen.

Loreen took Ashley to her pediatrician and then a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. An MRI showed a discoid meniscus. The condition, characterized by an abnormally shaped meniscus, can cause knee pain or knee popping. Typically, children with these symptoms can be treated via arthroscopic surgery.

Ashley had her first surgery to reshape and repair her meniscus at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“She did OK and stuck with her physical therapy, but she plateaued to a point that left her with ongoing pain and difficulty walking,” says Loreen.

Over the next two years, Ashley had two more knee surgeries at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children to repair her meniscus.

Each time, the result was the same. She’d get better, but the pain would persist, and walking grew increasingly challenging. She needed crutches, a walker and then a wheelchair.

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