Zoey: The Comeback Kid
On the soccer field, Zoey exudes confidence. At 15 years old, she is an elite-level athlete who plays midfield for both her high school and premier soccer clubs. She knows when to attack and when to defend. She’s fit, fierce and in control.
One fateful fall day, however, Zoey’s confidence was shaken when, during a game, she planted her left leg and turned to avoid a collision with an oncoming player. Instantly, Zoey collapsed to the ground.
When her knee began to swell, Zoey’s pediatrician referred her to Ahmad F. Bayomy, M.D., medical director of the Sports Health and Medicine Program at Shriners Children’s New England for further evaluation. Dr. Bayomy confirmed that Zoey tore the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus in her left knee.
Understanding that Zoey aspired to continue playing competitive soccer and was at risk for rapid wear and tear in her injured knee, Dr. Bayomy recommended that she undergo ACL reconstruction surgery and meniscus repair. “Our shared goals included returning Zoey to her previous level of function, avoiding long-term pain and stiffness and decreasing the risk for ACL injury in either knee.”
With the aid of a minimally invasive surgical technique called arthroscopy, Dr. Bayomy used two of Zoey’s hamstring tendons to prepare and secure a new ACL in a way that respected her open growth plates. He also performed a meniscus repair to fix the tear in the cartilage.
Just days after surgery, Zoey began a physical therapy home-exercise program. Two weeks later, she started a 12-month-long physical therapy program in the hospital’s rehabilitation gym.
I was determined to get back to the sport I love.
“After surgery, my knee was so swollen I couldn’t straighten my leg, it was really challenging,” said Zoey. “But, I was determined to get back to the sport I love, it didn’t matter to me if it was going to take a year or longer.”
In physical therapy, Zoey worked on stretching, range of motion and strengthening exercises. About halfway through her rehabilitation program, Zoey progressed to more active movements, including running, cutting and jumping.
“Patients recovering from ACL tears undergo return-to-sport evaluations to show us how close the patient is to a full return to their sport," said Dr. Bayomy. “Zoey passed the final exam with flying colors, and it truly represented the hard work and dedication she demonstrated in physical therapy.”
Zoey was amazed by the results.
“It was like the injury never happened,” said Zoey. “I no longer had any limitations with my knee.”
Shriners Children’s athletic trainers worked with Zoey’s coach and created a modified workout program to use during practice. She started with non-contact drills and gradually increased to full-contact drills and eventually competitive games.
Zoey returned to soccer this summer and is suiting up for her high school’s varsity team this fall. Her knee, and her confidence, are stronger than ever.
“I’m confident that I can play soccer at the collegiate level,” said Zoey. “Thanks to Shriners Children’s New England I’ll have the opportunity to achieve that.”