Knee Injuries Can’t Keep Alice From the Volleyball Court for Long

Injured in her first high school practice, Alice and her family counted on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to help her come back even stronger thanks to specialized surgery and supportive sports physical therapy.

Alice Reno playing volleyball recovering from pediatric knee injury

Alice had only been playing volleyball for a year, but she’d fallen in love with the sport. Over the summer, she attended every volleyball camp she could and practiced as much as possible. “I didn’t really have anything I loved to do until I found volleyball,” she says.

So when she made the team at her middle school, it wasn’t a surprise. But what happened at her first practice was.

Diving enthusiastically for a ball, Alice hurt her knee badly. “When I tried to get up, I couldn’t,” she says. “The pain was just so bad, and my kneecap was throbbing.”

Alice’s mother, Stacy Shelton, picked her up from practice as soon as she could. “There was never any question as to where I was going to take Alice when she got hurt,” she says.

A common but challenging injury

Initial X-rays indicated that Alice hadn’t broken anything, but Crystal Perkins, MD, a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon at Children’s, knew exactly what was wrong.

“Alice had a patellar dislocation that resulted in an injury to the cartilage in her kneecap,” explains Dr. Perkins, who added that the most common knee injuries in teens like Alice who have a traumatic injury and swelling are kneecap dislocations and ligament tears. “I see both of these injuries on a daily basis.”

Together, Alice, her mother and her care team decided on a path to healing. Alice received a surgical procedure known as knee arthroscopy, in which a piece of injured bone and cartilage was removed. In good spirits, Alice returned home the same day as her surgery.

“They have taken such good care of us,” her mom Stacy raved, “and I just loved that the team at Children’s understood how badly Alice wanted to get back on the court after her knee injury, but also made sure she healed correctly for the long term. I really felt like Alice was in the best hands she could be in.”

A team committed to lasting recovery

After her surgery, Alice walked on crutches and wore an immobility brace for about a month. To build strength and flexibility, she started a three-to-four-month sports physical therapy regimen at Children’s.

Alice is enthusiastic about her therapy team. “I love my physical therapist so much,” she said, “so I’m always really excited to go.”

While there’s work ahead, Dr. Perkins is enthusiastic about Alice’s prognosis. “Injuries that take teen athletes out of their sport are challenging,” she says, “but Alice has faced the challenge with grace and will make an excellent recovery.”

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