Jun 24, 2021 / Sports Medicine

Everything Will Get Better

16-year-old Vicky is a soccer midfielder, a national scholar and a serious competitor for valedictorian for the class of 2022 with a 5.0 GPA. She has been fascinated with soccer since she was little. “My dad played when he was younger,” she says. “We would always watch it on TV together, and he would explain it to me.” Vicky always wanted to play herself, but her schoolwork and financial constraints prevented it until she finally got her chance as a freshman at Braswell High School in Aubrey, Texas. She was ecstatic flying down the field and helping her team score – finally playing the sport she had loved all her life.

In December of 2019, Vicky was sprinting when she felt a pop in her right knee. “My knee buckled under my weight, and I couldn’t really move it after that,” she says. Her family doctor recommended the specialists at Scottish Rite for Children Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center in Frisco. This wasn’t a new experience for her completely. She had been seen in 2017 for a similar complaint, but her non-operative treatment and recovery from that injury had been uneventful.

Her injury in 2017 was a subluxation (slipping) of the patella (kneecap) to the side. This condition, patellar subluxation, has a risk of occurring again, particularly in running and pivoting sports like soccer. An MRI revealed a complete medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) tear caused by the traumatic movement of the patella. In January of 2020, pediatric orthopedic surgeon Philip L. Wilson, M.D., performed an MPFL reconstruction to stabilize the patella. “Doctor Wilson was super-nice, and he really cleared everything up, so I was really happy with him,” says Vicky.

Because of closures and safety precautions due to COVID-19, the start of Vicky’s physical therapy was affected, but when the time came, she was eager to begin. In their time together, physical therapist Jessica Dabis, P.T., D.P.T., not only helped Vicky physically but emotionally as well. “She would always try to make me feel better because I was feeling a little depressed because of my injury, and it worked,” says Vicky. In August of 2020, Vicky was cleared to return to soccer without restrictions, and she was thrilled to rejoin her teammates. “Scottish Rite made me feel really good about myself,” she says. “Before surgery, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to walk again, but now I’m fine, and my knee is doing amazing!”

A focus of post-operative rehabilitation for athletes is functional movement training. Injuries often occur because of poor movement patterns in foundational movements like squats and direction changes. Dabis describes Vicky as “a very hard-working patient who made great strides in developing coordination with movement mechanics and plyometrics throughout her therapy.” These skills will transfer to her performance in soccer and her ability to control her knees and ankles and hopefully prevent other injuries in the future. “Working with patients like Vicky is very rewarding,” says Chuck Wyatt, M.S., CPNP, RNFA. “The habits that led to her success in academics, at home and on the field helped her immensely in her recovery. We are very proud for her to be back playing soccer and can’t wait to see what’s next for her.”

Vicky is excited about her summer and upcoming senior year. She received a full scholarship to attend Harvard University’s Secondary School Program this summer and hopes to begin her collegiate career there after graduation.

Vicky wants other injured young athletes to know that they don’t have to worry. “Everything will get better,” she says. “Your injury just needs time to heal. Whatever is injured will work again.”

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