Sports Medicine

Aug 25, 2021 / Sports Medicine

Helping Kaliya Achieve Her Goals

When Kaliya was 9 years old, her gymnastics coach told her mother that Kaliya had a natural talent for the sport. “She had been doing gymnastics for four years at that point, and, of course, every parent thinks that their child is amazing, but when her coach told me that, I knew that she had a real gift,” says Kaliya’s mother, Jamesse. Kaliya began participating in USA Gymnastics competitions like Talent Opportunity Program (TOPS) and Hopes. She came in first place all-around in her first Hopes Championship.

At 15 years old, Kaliya is a World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) Elite level gymnast and on the Junior Women’s National Team. Kaliya was on a roll until January of 2021, when she injured her left heel while practicing a skill on the balance beam. “I landed and felt a really sharp pain on the bottom of my heel,” says Kaliya. “I thought I had just bruised it because you can get minor injuries like that in gymnastics pretty often, so I kept practicing on it until it finally got so bad that I couldn’t walk anymore.” Kaliya’s parents took her to her primary care physician, where she was referred to the Scottish Rite for Children Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center in Frisco. Kaliya knew that some of her teammates had been treated at Scottish Rite, and they all raved about the care that they received there, so she and her family were excited about their appointment.

Kaliya was seen by pediatric sports medicine physician Jane S. Chung, M.D. After examining Kaliya and reviewing her X-rays and MRI, Chung determined that Kaliya had an injury that caused a partial tear to the fibrous tissue that supports the bottom of the foot, known as the plantar fascia. She also had deep bone bruises in several of her ankle bones. When Kaliya shared her goal of getting back on the floor for an upcoming competition, Chung and the multi-disciplinary team at Scottish Rite developed an individualized plan to help Kaliya achieve her goal. Chung recommended immobilizing her foot and ankle in a cast for two weeks to allow natural healing to take place, followed by a period of immobilization in a boot to help with the continued healing of her injury. “Kaliya and her parents were dedicated and motivated to doing what was best for injury, and together we came up with a game plan - it was definitely a team effort,” says Chung. “I also commend Kaliya’s optimistic attitude and ability to look at the big picture from her injury, which can be difficult when athletes are faced with an injury that takes them out from their sport for a while.” After the cast and boot were removed, Kaliya began physical therapy three times a week. Her therapy included familiar gymnastics skills so she could gauge her progress. Kaliya and her family followed all of the recommendations from the team. Because of her hard work and dedication, she met her goal. “The physical therapy team at Scottish Rite was amazing!” says Jamesse. “Any questions or concerns we had, we could call or email them. When Kaliya had to travel by herself and she needed to know how to tape her foot, she called, and they talked to the National Team’s physical therapists to let them know how to do it for her.” 

After stepping down due to her injury, Kaliya has earned back her spot on the National Team, and she is very appreciative of the care that she received at Scottish Rite. “I felt very welcomed and like they all supported me,” says Kaliya. “They did an amazing job in helping me achieve my goals, and I cannot thank them enough.” Jamesse is also thankful for what they learned from Scottish Rite. “They didn’t just take care of Kaliya, but taught her things that she can do to take care of herself, so she implements those things to help keep herself healthy.”

Kaliya’s experience taught her to listen to her body and to not push herself to the point where she could get injured again, and she wants other young athletes to do the same. But if something does happen, she recommends going to Scottish Rite for treatment. “The team at Scottish Rite is there to help you work through what you need to work through to get you to your end goal, so definitely just listen to them,” she says. Jamesse agrees and offers her own advice for parents helping a child navigate an injury and treatment. “The best thing that you can do is to continue to encourage your children to not give up and to let them know that this is part of their journey and that they will get through it,” she says. “Make sure that you are just uplifting your children in the most positive way and making sure that you are supporting them in their recovery journey.”

Kaliya has her mind set on competing in the Olympics. We’ll be watching for her in France in 2024!



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