Skye outside

Nov 19, 2020 / Sports Medicine

Embracing Skye’s Treatment

Skye has always been an active girl. Her mother, Shalea, noticed Skye’s awesome athletic talent when she was 7. Skye would fly around the court playing basketball, and when the season was over, she would do cheer for other teams. “She’s always been the shortest and smallest, but she’s one of the toughest,” says Shalea. For a few years, Skye ran, turned, twisted and jumped with both sports, but one day when she was in the fifth grade, she noticed that something didn’t feel quite right in her knee. “In basketball, there’s a lot of cutting and stopping on a dime, and her knee would be in a lot of pain after games and practices. When she wasn’t playing, it wouldn’t bother her,” says Shalea. More than anything, Skye wanted to be able to finish the basketball season, so her pediatrician referred her to Scottish Rite for Children. Activity-related pain is a common reason for a referral to our team. Children shouldn’t hurt when they play.

Shalea brought Skye to Scottish Rite where pediatric orthopedic surgeon and assistant chief of staff Philip L. Wilson, M.D., reviewed Skye’s MRI and discussed osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) with them. OCD is a condition that causes changes in the cartilage and bone on the surface of the knee joint. It is most common in the knee but can also occur in the ankle or elbow. Sometimes, patients will have the same condition on both legs, but Skye only had symptoms and evidence in her left knee. “Dr. Wilson from the start was very helpful and forthcoming with our options,” says Shalea. “We could get surgery to fix the area, or we could take the longer course of wearing a knee brace. So, based on all of the great information that he provided, Skye decided to wear a brace, and it ended up being a three-year journey.”

To heal the cartilage and surface of the bone inside the joint, Skye needed relief from the pressures of daily activity. The brace that Wilson provided was a medial unloader brace, which was designed to remove the pressure on the area of the bone with the osteochondral defect. “The brace was supposed to slow Skye down, but she figured out how to continue both basketball and cheer with it on,” says Shalea. “The goal was to let Skye’s knee rest and to take the pressure off of it. Perhaps the time that she had to wear the brace would have been shorter if she had slowed down, but that wasn’t something that Skye was willing to do because of her devotion to her favorite sports.” Skye wore her knee brace for three years and eventually, her X-rays showed enough healing to stop using the brace.

Wilson says, “Particularly with athletes like Skye, we work together with the family to weigh the pros and cons of surgery, strict activity restrictions and continuing activity. After choosing her path, Skye and her family diligently followed up for periodic X-rays.” Wilson observed the area of concern as well as monitoring her other leg to be sure there wasn’t a specific reason to reconsider the decision to manage the condition conservatively.

Basketball continues to be a passion of hers, but two years ago, Skye discovered competitive cheer. Busier than ever, this multi-sport athlete and her family are thankful for the care they received at Scottish Rite. “It’s scary to hear that anything is wrong with your child, and you think the worst when you get that sort of news,” says Shalea. “Having a doctor who will talk you through it and give you that reassurance is something that all parents need, and if they aren’t getting that, they need to look elsewhere. Dr. Wilson helped us weigh the options of surgery and wearing a brace and helped us make the right decision for Skye.”

“My knee is good now,” says Skye. “It doesn’t hurt anymore, and that’s thanks to Dr. Wilson.” Skye wants other injured young athletes to know that things will get better. “It took three years, but my leg finally healed,” she says. “Now, I’m back to a normal life. So, it will get better.”

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