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Hunter Is Back on the Field After Care at Shriners Children's Lexington

As a sophomore in high school, Hunter was preparing for a camp where he would train alongside the best high school football players in the country. It was an opportunity to learn new skills and get in front of college recruiters.

In preparation for the camp, Hunter was at an early-morning workout when he suffered an injury that would, in many ways, put his grit and love of the game to the test.

Hunter, an offensive lineman and defensive tackle, was jumping hurdles when his feet became tangled. “I fell directly on both knees,” he said.

He was working out inside, where the floor was concrete covered in turf material, so the impact was significant. “The feeling was unreal,” Hunter said. “It was painful, dreadful. Everything felt like slow motion.”

Hunter suffered bilateral tibia plateau fractures and dislocated both kneecaps. He was taken to the emergency department at UK HealthCare, where Ryan Muchow, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Shriners Children’s Lexington, was on call for the day.

UK Healthcare is Shriners Children’s Lexington's academic partner, and together, U.S. News and World Report ranks them among the top 50 best pediatric orthopedic hospitals in the country.

“Everyone kept telling us we were really lucky that Dr. Muchow was on call because of how great he is and that he is almost never on call at UK,” Michelle, Hunter’s mom, said.

If I had high expectations for my care and my recovery, Shriners met every one of those expectations. They were able to guide me the whole way.

Within three hours of arriving at the ER, Hunter was prepped for surgery. He had screws put in both legs to reattach the shattered parts of his bones, and his kneecaps were realigned. “It was a really scary time,” Michelle said. “But Dr. Muchow was amazing.”

Hunter left the hospital with a brace on each leg that extended from his hip to his ankle, and started on a long road to recovery.

He received all of his follow-up care with Dr. Muchow at Shriners Children’s Lexington. His recovery also included intense physical therapy and some strength training.

“He was gradually able to do more and more,” Michelle said. “One of the doctors told us they can tell he’s a true athlete, so it was important that his injury be fixed and fixed the right way.”

Michelle and Hunter are confident that is what happened. “If I had high expectations for my care and my recovery, Shriners met every one of those expectations,” Hunter said. “They were never unsure and were able to guide me the whole way.”

For Michelle, feeling like Hunter was a priority was important. “He’s my first child and my only son,” she said. “I still see him as my little boy. I have experience with many doctors, and Shriners Children’s is phenomenal. They were very responsive. Whatever it was he needed, they handled it instantly. He was never on the backburner at Shriners Children’s.”

For Hunter, who has played football since he was in elementary school, it’s more than a game. His teammates are his brothers. “We’re basically like a family,” he said. “I love the bond I have with my team.”

Thanks to the doctors at Shriners Children’s Lexington and Hunter’s love of the game, Hunter returned to the field with his peers for his junior season. He also recently began visiting colleges to consider his plans after high school, which will no doubt include taking his football career to the next level.

Recovery from a sports injury not only takes dedication from the doctors, but from the athlete, too. It was important for Hunter to follow the doctor’s orders to recover and avoid reinjury.

“Looking back at the time when I was lying in a bed with my feet propped up, unable to do much of anything, it felt like it would be forever before I was back on the field,” Hunter said. “I’m incredibly thankful to be back to the sport I love and doing even better than before.”


Shriners Children's Patients Are Back in the Game Thanks to Sports Medicine Care

The World is your Oyster: First Lady Jennifer Craven

Shriners International First Lady Jennifer Craven believes in spreading the word of Shriners Children’s and is especially dedicated to the work of sports medicine. Working with other women she will help grow Shriners Children’s ability to get our patients back to playing the sports they love. Your gift to the World is Your Oyster program will help ensure that patients receiving sports medicine at Shriners Children’s have everything they need to get back in the game.
View Transcript

Speaker 1: I grew up in South Carolina's Lowcountry. This place has a mystique about it, where hospitality, grace, and charm intermingle with pine trees, oaks, and Spanish moss, marshes and rivers, Southern cuisine and sweet tea.

Our roots run deep here. And for generations, this has been our home. This is an integral part of who Kenny and I are. We are forever connected to this place.

Oysters are the essence of the Lowcountry. With their salty tang, they connect us to the water and to our home. To me, they are more than a food. Oysters are an inspiration. Somehow, a tiny grain of sand gets inside their shell, and from this gritty irritant, they produce something wonderful, a pearl.

I'm so proud to present our fundraising program, The World is Your Oyster, and to have the privilege of working with other women connected with Shriners International on this effort over the next year. Together, we will spread the word of the amazing care kids receive at Shriners Children's, especially for sports injuries.

Speaker 2: Every patient is a motivation to me because sometimes, in our daily lives, I think we get a little bit down, but we look at those children, and they're never down. And that amazes me.

Speaker 3: So I'm inspired to go look for patients, to see where we can help, and see kids in the community, kids in the public spaces that we may be able to reach and teach, and help them grow and be better children somewhere down the road.

Speaker 4: I love the idea that we can open those doors for these kid athletes and tell them, "Hey, this is what you love to do. Don't stop doing this. Come see us. Shriners can offer an open door for you. The world is your oyster."

Speaker 5: These kids are so inspirational that they give us the hope. And I think rather than us being a blessing to them, they're really a blessing to us. And I think your slogan is perfect because if you look at our children, the world is their oyster.

Speaker 1: Being a sports enthusiast, participating in a variety of sports and activities and being so connected to the outdoors, inspired me to support Shriners Children's patients who seek care for sports injuries.

For children, playing is life. Madison, who is 14 years old, loves to play softball and basketball, but a birth defect that affects the bones in her feet was making it too painful for her to play. Foot pain was putting this active teen on the sidelines. Madison and her family worked with Dr. Ryan Muchow, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Shriners Children's Lexington.

After two surgeries, Madison can now compete in varsity softball games, and enjoy her other hobbies like hunting and fishing and riding horses, which happen to be some of my favorite activities too. Her future plans include playing college softball, pursuing a career as a veterinarian, and maybe even performing at the Grand Ole Opry.

Dr Muchow: When Madison was around eight years old, I started noticing, with her playing sports, that she couldn't keep up with other kids. Her feet were bothering her. We reached out to a couple local orthopedics, and we discovered that she had extra navicular bones in both feet. So doing that brought us to Shriners to find someone who could help. And Dr. Muchow was able to do that.

Accessory navicular, the extra bone that's present there, it becomes pretty clear that that's the main culprit. It's not going to go away unless that bone itself has been removed from the foot. We have great research that supports that line of decision making. And we know with surgery, then there's a really high success rate with that surgery to alleviate her pain, and return her to normal function.

We have great physical therapy that guides her in her recovery process. We have an orthotics department that's able to fit her properly, unique foot, surgical foot, that they can custom make an orthosis that fits inside her softball cleats to allow her to function on the diamond, a nursing staff that's able to field calls and answer questions related to her care, and really support that family and walk through this entire event with them. And that's really the secret ingredient, to unite all of those individuals to make a great care episode.

Madison: Oh, since the surgery, I can tell that I can actually withstand a whole varsity game. I can actually play without having to sit out every other inning. I run the bases without my feet hurting. It's a big change, and I have to thank Shriners for that because if it wasn't for them, I'd still be sitting on the bench, if that. I probably wouldn't even be playing, honestly.

Speaker 1: Shriners Children's experienced medical teams are dedicated to helping patients reach their goals, from orthopedic care for simple or complex bone fractures, to physical or occupational therapy, to fixing a growth plate, or surgery to repair a torn ACL. Shriners Children's does it all.

Intense physical therapy and strength training keeps 16 year old Hunter busy. The offensive lineman and defensive tackle is back on the field with his high school football teammates after a devastating injury during his sophomore year. While training indoors on a concrete floor covered in turf material, his foot became tangled in a hurdle. Hunter went down hard, breaking bones in both legs and dislocating both knees. Hunter received all of his follow up care with Dr. Muchow at Shriners Children's Lexington. Facing a long road to recovery, hunter stayed focused on his goal, playing football again.

Hunter: So December 10th, I got injured, weight lifting and football. I injured myself and it was a bilateral tibia plateau fracture. I fractured both my tibias and dislocated both my kneecaps.

Hunter's mom: So to see him laying there, unable to move, and he was very upset, which made me panic because I didn't .know what was wrong with him

Hunter: Immediately, my mother and nana showed up, rushed me to UK.

Hunter's mom: One of the residents at orthopedics came in and said, "Somehow, Dr. Muchow is down as the on call orthopedic surgeon for today." They were like, "I'm telling you, you are getting the absolute best care. This man is amazing. He's the best surgeon."

Dr Muchow: He had what we call tibial tubercle fractures. And so the tibial tubercle is an area of bone where your patellar tendon inserts onto your shin bone on the tibia. And a unique injury at a unique time of life. These only happen when teenagers are going from having childlike bones with pretty large or growing growth plates to ones that are beginning to close. And that is a unique time when the there's a weak spot there. And so with a big, strong dude putting a lot of pressure through those legs, it just gave way and caused the tibius to break there, up by the knee.

The surgery, again, will get them on the pathway, but it's really all those other elements is what makes it a successful outcome. Hunter just took that and ran with it, and that's a Testament to his personal will and the support system he had around him to succeed in such a great way.

Hunter: If I went to a different doctor, a different hospital, I mean, I could still be bedridden.

Hunter's mom: He's not a number. He's a patient. He's a kid. And that speaks volumes to me, because there are places out there where he's just a number.

Hunter: I mean, I definitely have God to thank for putting me in the care of Shriners and all their workers and their staff and their nurses and doctors and surgeons. They have definitely lined up and just been great for me, to me and my family. My goal for the rest of high school is just to give it my all, do as best as possible, do the best that I can, and hopefully go to college to play somewhere, and just go as far as I can in the sport.

Speaker 1: In addition, Shriners Children's uses amazing technologies, such as EOS imaging, which reduces the amount of radiation a patient is exposed to, and motion analysis to help clinicians see how a child is moving and decide which treatments would be most effective, and when a patient is ready to play again.

Everyone has played sports or enjoys watching sports, or has family members or friends playing sports. And that commonality of sports puts all of us on the same team. We can relate to that kind of injury, often unexpected. And to know that world class pediatric care is available from Shriners Children's is such a comfort to families.

Most of our locations that offer orthopedic services can provide care for children with sports injuries, and some have more specialized sports medicine programs. To explain one of these specialized programs, we joined Dr. Benjamin Wilson at Shriners Children's Lexington. Dr. Wilson was a collegiate football player himself at Kentucky Wesleyan College. He dealt with his own sports injuries that required surgery, which further inspired his own passion for sports medicine.

Dr Benjamin Wil...: I really appreciate your focus. Obviously, it's something that I'm excited about as well, former athlete myself. I know what it's like to go through as an athlete, to be at your best and then all of a sudden get an injury, and it can be devastating, both from the physical and the mental and the social aspect of these athletes. And to be able to continue to push, to figure out how best to get them back to playing safely, in an effective manner, I think, is great.

Just getting the word out that we are here, that we're available and we're happy to see patients. The otherwise healthy athlete with an acute injury is right in our wheelhouse, and we do have surgeons and other specialists like myself, that are happy to take care of them.

Speaker 1: To help improve the care and quality of life of injured young athletes, and reduce re-injury rates, Shriners Children's also has a group called SCORES, or Shriners Consortium for Outcomes, Research, and Education in Sports.

Dr Benjamin Wil...: The SCORES project is an exciting new adventure here for Shriners, where multiple sites throughout the country, that all do sports medicine, were banding together to help collaborate, perform new research in exciting areas that we may not have thought of otherwise, combining our data to make it more powerful. And to hopefully guide our treatment, not just for our current patients, but help to prevent injury and to allow for a more appropriate recovery for our patients for years to come.

Speaker 1: Like Lowcountry oysters, our patients are an inspiration. They may come to Shriners Children's wondering if they will ever get back on the court, playing fields, and other activities they love. But with the compassion, dedication, and support of our medical teams, they find they have a remarkable grip and resilience. And with perseverance, they discover that the world is their oyster.

Being a Carolina girl through and through, it was natural to find the connection between the amazing work we do at Shriners Children's and the symbolism of the pearl in the oyster from the Lowcountry. It represents how deeply we believe in our patients and their endless possibilities.

It is my hope that you are inspired to make an impact too. Please support The World is Your Oyster by purchasing one of these products that reflect the beauty of the low country and the resilience of children. Donations to The World is Your Oyster may also be made online. Your generosity will help give our patients every possible advantage on their journey to creating full and satisfying lives. Together, we can help change and improve the lives of more children in more places. Anything is possible. The world is truly your oyster.

Hunter Is Back in the Game

After suffering significant fractures in both legs, Hunter is back to the field with his high school football team, thanks in part to the care he received at Shriners Children's Lexington.

Hunter on field wearing helmet, shirt reads GRC Footgall

Hunter on the field

Hunter with two physicians

Dr. Muchow and the care team made a huge difference.

Hunter wearing uniform, jersey says "Cardinals"

Hunter is back in the game.

Hunter in weight room

Hard work was the key to getting back on the field.

Hunter doing leg therapy with stretch band

Physical therapy was critical.

Hunter with Shriner leaders, Jersey that reads "Frisco 99," East West Shrine Bowl sign, Today's All-Stars, Tomorrow's Legends

Hunter has been able to represent Shriners Children's Lexington at football-related events across the country.

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