Stories about: Orthopedics

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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Turning a cancer diagnosis into a chance to help others

Virginia (photo credit Catherine Morris)

Virginia-Finigan Carter has a knack for turning things around.

At 13 years old, she fought through leg pain while preparing for a state gymnastics competition. “I felt a pain in my knee, but I didn’t tell my mother until afterwards because I wanted to compete,” says Virginia.

What she didn’t realize at the time was that her strength and perseverance through the pain would serve her well over the next few years, for a completely different reason.

After explaining the pain during a doctor’s visit, her primary care provider referred her to a local hospital to make sure nothing was torn. While her MRI scan didn’t show a tear, it indicated that Virginia had a cancerous bone tumor called osteosarcoma.

She was quickly referred to Megan Anderson, MD, attending orthopedic surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Bone Program, who understood that Virginia wanted to focus on what she could do, rather than what she couldn’t do.

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Beating the odds: After three knee injuries, a female athlete triumphs

Krista

There is a special kind of female athlete who is so dedicated that her sport becomes her life. Because research shows that girls and women are prone to higher rates of injuries and other health complications, these female athletes require a level of dedication not only to their sports, but also to their long-term health. And by pairing the two, they prevail.

For Krista Pinciaro, soccer player at Medfield High School, dedication to the sport came naturally. But when she tore her medial meniscus and re-tore her lateral meniscus (after tearing both her meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) years before), she knew her senior-year soccer season was at stake.

“It was one of the worst days of my life,” says Krista. “Soccer isn’t just a sport to me, it’s my everything. It made me feel like I belonged to something, and it made me succeed academically because I knew I had to in order to keep playing. My teammates and my coaches were all like members of my family. Not playing was devastating for me.”

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Back-to-school health: Recognizing sport-related concussions

By Alexandra Wade, Michael O’Brien, MD and William Meehan, MD

The new school year has begun and fall sports season is fast approaching. But before the sports season kicks off, parents and young athletes should be fully aware of the risks associated with contact sports, particularly sport-related concussions, which are increasingly common in young athletes. But not every athlete who suffers a concussion is reflected in these cases; many athletes don’t recognize they’ve experienced a concussion because they don’t know the signs and symptoms. This is especially troublesome because athletes who don’t realize they’ve suffered a concussion are likely to return to play before they’ve fully healed, putting them at risk for a second concussion. Children who get a second concussion before fully recovering from the first are at a greater risk for serious, long-term problems.

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