boy in gym with external fixator and basketball

Apr 14, 2022 / Limb Lengthening

Share Your Story: Back to Basketball

Meet Austin, a patient who was seen by our Limb Lengthening and Sports Medicine experts. Learn more about his journey below.

Blog written by Austin. 

I was born premature and had several complications because of this. One issue is that my left leg had low muscle tone and was crooked. It never really bothered me and you could not notice anything unless you knew my history. 
I have loved basketball my entire life and started playing when I was four years old. Over the years my knee began to deteriorate but I continued to play. When I was a freshman in high school, I noticed that my leg wouldn’t straighten all the way out and at times felt like it was going to lock up. However, I kept playing and pushed this to the back of my mind. 
My knee started swelling my sophomore year, so my parents took me to an orthopedic doctor in our town. I had X-rays taken and the doctor said I could continue to play but would need to ice my knee after every practice or game. He also mentioned draining fluid from my knee and the need for a cortisone shot. I decided to play that season and just ice my knee. By May, the pain was really bad and I started asking my parents about draining the fluid and getting the cortisone shot. My mom decided to take me to Scottish Rite for Children for a second opinion.  
My first appointment was with Dr. Miller. He ordered an MRI and suggested we make an appointment for me to see a surgeon – I knew this couldn’t be good. When we met with the surgeon, Dr. Ellis, he told me that I had a bad case of osteochondritis dissecans and would require a bone and cartilage transplant. I was devastated. I would not be able to play sports for one year and would have to miss my junior season of basketball. Dr. Ellis told me he would do everything he could to get me ready for my senior year and I believed him. 
I had a scope to clean my knee and that was when I learned I would need another surgery to first straighten my leg. I felt very overwhelmed, but the doctors said my recovery should still only be one year and I should be ready to play my senior year. In December, I had surgery with Dr. Podeszwa to straighten my leg. He corrected the curve, and my tibia and fibula were held in place with plates and screws. I had an external fixator on my leg to hold everything together as the bones healed. After surgery, I used a special device that help me heal. This machine moved my calf just enough to mimic walking when I was actually just sitting on my couch. It was great! 
The original plan was to be in the external fixator for three months, and then have a final surgery to correct the osteochondritis dissecans. Waiting on a bone and cartilage donor took a little longer than expected, but I remember getting the call where I learned I was finally able to have my last surgery. I was so excited and felt so blessed. 
My leg has healed great and this past October I was cleared by Dr. Ellis to slowly get back to playing basketball. My goal was to just get back in the game and make some 3-pointers. I was able to do both and had a great season playing the game that I have always loved! 
I am still working on some aspects of my recovery, and it has been a process, but I’m so thankful that I had a supportive team to help me meet my goals. Thanks to Dr. Ellis, Dr. Podeszwa, and all the other doctors and staff who were part of my care. Everyone at Scottish Rite always makes me feel important and I am grateful to everyone who helped get me back to basketball.



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