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Author Topic: Patella Fracture - For The Athlete  (Read 44 times)

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Offline caseam

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Patella Fracture - For The Athlete
« on: May 16, 2018, 07:15:27 PM »
I have decided to start a new thread on this due to the fact that everything I was reading either A) Involved the 50+ year old population, B) Had something negative associated with it, and C) Was out dated.

I wanted to take this opportunity to share my on-going journey and will continue to update as time goes on. I hope that this thread will live on for the coming years and provide helpful insight for the injured high performing athletes that have been plagued with this injury (FYI Kyrie Irving broke his patella in the 2015 NBA season with the Cavaliers). This injury is not for the faint hearted nor the weak minded, but since you are already an athlete I’m going to assume you are not among the vast population that is. If you are not a patient person, you will very quickly become one due the nature of this injury. Tough times don’t last, tough people do.

Background:

I just turned 25. I played 4 years of college lacrosse and never once had an injury I couldn’t play through. I grew up playing soccer, lacrosse, snowboarding, riding dirtbikes, and consistently went to the gym 6-7 days a week for about 4 years now. And yes I was consistent with leg days – could squat 315 for reps. I graduated in 2016 & started working as a field engineer where I would be walking on average 4-5 miles per day.

The injury occurred on 02/18/2018 at Mountain Creek ski area in New jersey. I fell into a steel post in the terrain park while snowboarding where I hit my patella perfectly on the rail. I immediately went down and knew I was done. I then had a 3 hour car ride back to Binghamton, NY where I went to the ER, luckily I was with a friend (Shout out to Jordan Smith) and he was able to drive us back. The ski patrol assessed me and though I had dislocated my knee, little did I know…

About 6 hours after I fell they examined my x-rays and broke the news to me: Broken left patella in 2 large pieces (horizontally) and a smaller third piece (upper corner – inner thigh side). They sent me home with 3 Percocet’s and arranged for surgery the next morning where Dr. Tina Maxian would head the operation. She had an undergraduate & MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from RPI along with her PHD from medical school – obviously very smart & so I trusted she would do a phenomenal job. I woke up from surgery where they then put me a hinged knee brace where it would remain locked & immobile for the next 6 weeks. They put two vertical screws, a figure 8 tension wire, and wrapped my knee cap in suture material to hold the smaller piece into position.

The next 2 weeks were miserable. There’s no other way I will put it. Day 2 after the nerve block wore off was an absolute living nightmare. I was sleeping on average 4 hours a night. The hardest part was teaching my leg to NOT use it’s muscles – train it to be a dead leg. So a dead leg it became, and sure enough the atrophy started. I showered every 3 days or so and ate almost nothing as I was not active and had zero appetite. I could not crutch forward what so ever as my quad muscle would flex and send me into tears almost. I learned to crutch backwards where my foot would slide across the floor. I saw my OS at the 2 week mark and it revealed the bone was beginning to heal – my knee was still immobilized. At 3 weeks I was able to manage to get up and move around somewhat at will, my knee was still extremely sore and my foot still had minimal contact on the ground. The next few weeks went by very slow, the withdrawal from percocets was hard for a couple days: I struggled to sleep, I wanted to get up and walk around, and was very irritable. The next few weeks slowly went by – TV got extremely boring. I finally put my mind to use and returned to work at the 4 week mark where I was now behind a desk. I started driving to and from work at 6 weeks. Any drive longer than 20 minutes became very uncomfortable for me.

Week 6: Staying Motivated

I saw my OS at the 6 week mark, there was no muscle left what so ever. She x-rayed my knee and said everything looked good. There was still a large amount of swelling, but she told me I could come out of the brace at the appointment and could begin to go full weight bearing. I was shocked. She then proceeded to tell me to swing my leg over the side of the exam table to see how far I could bend it… My leg was stiff as a board – Literally 0 degrees of mobility. My OS was fairly surprised and told me I would surprisingly need therapy.

The journey began, I started PT the next day after touring nearly every PT place in my area. So I started PT 2 times per week beginning with literally 0 degrees of mobility.

I ordered a goniometer off of eBay to track my knee flexion (along with 2 medical grade ice gel packs), I plotted my progress on a graph and kept a daily log/journal of how things were going. I will attach this graph to the thread of where I am at currently for your viewing pleasure and will continue to update (Week 0 signifies the start of PT, but 6 week post-operation).

I ditched the brace entirely at 7 weeks. I was very protective (still am) and would become extremely nervous in a social setting if I didn’t have it on. My confidence grew.

Week 8-10: Ditching the crutches

There have been some very tough days thus far. Staying motivated and optimistic is a daily challenge. Things like, “will I ever run a 4.5 sec. 40 yard dash again” crossed my mind constantly. Keep a strong mind and remember this is merely a battle within. I started swimming at about 8 weeks post-op and saw tremendous gains in strength & mobility within the first 2 days of swimming. I went to one crutch at 9 weeks and then ditched them entirely at about 10 weeks. It is very important to try and not walk with a limp. You’re body will begin to adapt to you’re limping and cause you further issues. Be extremely methodical in your steps. I spend 15 minutes in the hot-tub/whirlpool before and after each swimming session. Walking lunges, back stroke, freestyle stroke, side stroke, & standing on my injured leg are some of the basic things I started doing in the pool. I spend roughly 1.5 hours in the pool per day. After swimming (followed by the hot-tub) I hop on the stationary recumbent bike for 10-15 minutes. Here I go halfway back and halfway forward until my knee doesn’t bend anymore. I use my good knee to “drive/push” the other knee to get it to bend more – this is pretty painful as well.

Week 12: Learning

I learned a lot about myself the past 3 months. You will learn where your boundaries lie and then you will learn how far you can push them. You will learn what pain feels like, but you will have a great appreciation for how good you also have it. You will meet a handful of strangers who have shared their stories with you – you will be able to relate them. This injury will humble you to the core, I can promise you that.
Currently I am at 65-70 degrees pushing into my knee; my leg sits at about 55-60 degrees hanging off of the bed/chair. I average about 10 degrees more per week. I will continue to push myself at PT and with the swimming in the coming weeks/months. The pool has served a huge physical & mental escape for me. It has helped me start to feel like a young athlete should, putting me in a better state of mind. I also started lifting upper body again using machines only.