Adara and Alayna at the Frisco campus

Oct 29, 2020 / Sports Medicine

Fighting Spirit – Overcoming Injury to Inspire Fans On and Off the Field

Recently published in 2020 Rite Up, Issue 3

Pictured above: sisters Alayna (left) and Adara (right). 

By Hayley Hair

Friday night lights shine brightly in a Texas town, but Scottish Rite for Children patients and teenage sisters, Adara and Alayna, have talent and school spirit that shine even brighter. At North Forney High School, big sister Adara, a 16-year-old senior, and little sister Alayna, incoming freshman, battled several bouts of injuries and recoveries for several months to stand tall with their fellow teammates this season. 

To call Adara and Alayna active is an understatement. These girls have participated in everything from swimming to karate, track and field to volleyball. 

They excelled in gymnastics as well, although Adara’s focus shifted to dancing with the varsity drill team, the Sapphire Strutters, for her senior year. Alayna dances with the junior varsity drill team, the Royals. A few months ago, hyping up the crowd dancing, kicking and jumping with their drill teams would have been painful, if not impossible, without the expert care of their team at Scottish Rite for Children Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center in Frisco.

In 2018, Adara and Alayna experienced injuries within a month of each other during gymnastics practices.

Adara complained of uncomfortable back pain, and Alayna was stopped in her tracks when she felt a “pop” and pain in her left leg while tumbling. Adara and Alayna perform at a high level, both in sports activities and academically, and their mother, Roxann, made it her mission to find top-notch care for her daughters. What she discovered led her to the world-renowned pediatric orthopedic experts of Scottish Rite for Children.

Jane S. Chung, M.D., a nonoperative pediatric sports medicine physician at Scottish Rite for Children, showed up on their pediatrician’s recommendation list. Chung specializes in dance medicine and injuries pertaining to adolescent female athletes. Roxann had found her expert.Adara-and-Alayna-1-(1).jpg

Chung worked with both sisters’ injuries — for Adara, her back pain turned out to be a stress fracture in her spine. And Alayna’s leg injury was diagnosed as an ischial tuberosity avulsion fracture, which happens when a small piece of bone breaks off where the hamstring muscle connects to the bone following a sharp movement, such as a kick or jump. “This is an injury we see in young athletes where the muscles and tendons are stronger than the growing bones and cartilage,” Chung says.  

Their treatment — modified activities, and luckily for the sisters, side-by-side physical therapy visits multiple times each week for several months. 

“I honestly felt like they were there for me, and they were not pushy,” Alayna says about her treatment. “They listened to what I had to say, and it was comforting.”

A few months later, Chung released the girls to full activity. Adara danced full-time with the drill team that fall, and Alayna returned to gymnastics. In early 2019, Roxann scheduled an appointment with Chung for pain in Adara’s shins. “At first I thought it was shin splints,” Adara says. “I kept telling myself to keep moving, wrapping up my legs. I think it got to a point where I was like, ‘I can’t do this. I feel like my legs are going to snap.’”
Her X-rays surprised them all. “She had six stress fractures on both legs,” Roxann says. “One of them was so bad, it was halfway through the bone.”

“This type of stress fracture accounts for about 5% of tibial stress fractures,” Chung says. “Also known as high-risk stress fractures, due to the specific location on the shin bone. There’s a long recovery period and a chance that they may not completely heal even with prolonged, conservative treatment and rest.”

Heading into her last drill team season as a senior, Adara couldn’t imagine being sidelined. Chung reached out to her colleague, Henry B. Ellis, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon on the team, for other treatment options. “The decision to pursue surgery was a hurdle,” Ellis says. “Her stress fracture could heal with time, rest and vitamin D supplements, but based on her X-ray, I estimated this would take 12 to 18 months of limited impact activity. Adara’s goal was to dance her senior year, and surgery was a reasonable decision to support the stress fractures and stimulate faster healing.”

Once Roxann and Adara decided to have surgery, they had one more big decision — operate on one leg or choose to correct both legs at the same time. “I was going to have to get both,” Adara says. “It would be kind of pointless to get one, recover, and go back into surgery to get the other. I didn’t think it would be smart to do it twice. At the end of the day, I think we are all happy that we did both.”

Adara’s surgery was in June 2020. “As a team, we develop the best plan for a young athlete like Adara,” Ellis says. “When a surgeon and a sports medicine physician agree to the same treatment, you know it’s the right one.”

Less than three months of recovery later, her care providers think Adara is a super star. Ben Johnson, P.A.-C., works closely with Ellis and helps to monitor her progress. “She is one tough cookie!” Johnson says. “Anyone 
that spends time with Adara sees that her smile and personality light up the room. She makes our work easy!”
“Adara and Alayna are smart, dedicated and motivated young ladies who love their sports,” Chung says. “They have been able to successfully recover from their injuries with the best care from our team but also due to the drive and hard work they put into their own recovery.”

Both Adara and Alayna have advice for their peers about sports-related injuries. “It really helped me see that I need to take care of my body,” Alayna says. “Whenever something’s wrong, tell somebody because it can be more than you think.”

“Pay attention to your body,” Adara says. “It taught me that when you are feeling pain, just take a break.”
Roxann shares her guidance with parents on her girls’ sports teams. “The quality of care here is head and shoulders above all the other centers.” Roxann says. 

“It’s been phenomenal treatment — the staff here, the ambiance of the institution — you really feel like family.”

Learn more about pediatric sports medicine. 

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