THREE-SPORT ATHLETE GETS BACK IN THE GAME AFTER TISSUE TRANSPLANT

By AlloSource: Doing More with Life

JAKE
RECIPIENT OF: BONE AND CARTILAGE

Jake’s life was never without sport: as one season ended, another began. Soccer became basketball, basketball became track, and he enjoyed the athletic challenge of each sport. However, constant knee pain threatened to put Jake on the bench.

Jake’s knee pain started three years ago and doctors suggested he try stretching and physical therapy to remedy the problem, but the pain persisted. When running or playing soccer, his knee would sometimes give out and it became clear to Jake and his parents that more medical attention was necessary.

“I didn’t feel that I was able to compete to my full potential,” said Jake. “I had an obvious limp when running, but I didn’t know what was causing it.”

After an MRI, Jake’s doctor diagnosed him with Osteochondritis dissecans, a joint condition in which cartilage and bone in the knee become loose. Though he was in the midst of a basketball season and looking forward to track, Jake’s diagnosis forced him to stop playing.

Jake and his family sought a second opinion after his diagnosis and they met Dr. John Polousky of HealthONE Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver. After weighing his options, Jake and his doctor moved forward with surgery. During the procedure, Dr. Polousky used bone and cartilage allografts to replace the damaged tissue and realigned the weight-bearing line in Jake’s leg.

Jake understood prior to his surgery that a deceased tissue donor made the bone and cartilage allografts possible.

“My immediate reaction was sadness. Today I am very appreciative that the person chose to be a donor and wanted to help someone beyond their own life.”

Part of Jake’s recovery included the use of  an external fixator with metal pins anchored into entry points in his leg. “After the surgery I noticed all of the attention I received from strangers. I don’t think they had ever seen an external fixator, and it did look strange,” he said.

Jake recently had the external fixator removed and has started his exercise regimen again. He rides his bike 12 miles per day and does not have any pain.

Receiving donated tissue affirmed Jake’s belief in donation. He registered as a donor when he got his driver’s license and hopes that others will consider registering too.

“I have felt the impact of what it really means to receive something from someone you don’t know. I would be interested in knowing about my donor’s life because
they are a part of me now. He or she made it possible for me to be healthy, so that I can do the things I like to do.”

OSTEOARTHRITIS & YOUR KNEES

More than 27 million Americans have OA and the knee is one of the most commonly affected joints. There are many treatment options available including several non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical choices.

WHAT IS OA OF THE KNEE?

Osteoarthritis is commonly known as “wear-and-tear arthritis,” but did you know that young people get it, too? Osteoarthritis, or OA, is the most common type of arthritis; it happens when the body’s natural cushioning—cartilage—wears away between joints. Think of cartilage as a shock absorber for your knees; less cushion results in bone rubbing against bone, and that can cause stiffness, pain, swelling decreased mobility and bone spurs. OA typically develops slowly and becomes worse over time. There is no cure for OA, but there are many treatments available that can ease the pain and help people to retain or regain their mobility.

WHAT CAUSES OA?

The ability of cartilage to heal decreases as people age, but the causes of knee OA vary. It can be hereditary or can be the result of injury, infection, overuse or excess weight.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away. As it does the protective spaces between the bones decrease resulting in bone rubbing on bone, producing painful bone spurs.
  • Obesity is the No. 1 driver of knee OA and the No. 1 cause of disability in the U.S.
  • Weak muscles around the knee can cause OA
  • Every extra pound of weight adds 3 to 4 pounds of extra weight to the knees; extra weight increases pressure on knees
  • Genetic mutations can make a person more likely to develop knee OA; abnormalities of bones surrounding the knee joint can also cause OA
  • Women ages 55 and older are more likely to develop knee OA
  • Athletes who play soccer, tennis or run long-distance may be at higher risk
  • Activities that cause a lot of stress on the joint—kneeling, squatting, lifting heavy weights of 55 pounds or more—can cause OA of the knee due to repetitive stress
  • Those with rheumatoid arthritis or metabolic disorders are at higher risk to develop knee OA

WHO GETS KNEE OA?

  • More than 27 million Americans have OA; the knee is one of the most commonly affected joints with more than 11 million people diagonosed in the U.S.
  • Chances of developing OA increase after age 45 and according to the Centers for Disease Control, the average onset of knee OA is 55 years old.
  • More than 40 percent of knee replacements happen over the age of 65, so many people have to find other forms of conservative, non-invasive and non-addicting methods to control pain and maintain an active lifestyle.
  • Women aged 55 and older are more likely than men to develop knee OA.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IF I HAVE KNEE OA?

There are many options available for those with knee OA, including several that are non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical choices. You’ll want to talk with your health care provider about the treatment or combination of treatments that’s best for you; here are some you may want to explore and consider:

MOTION IS MEDICINE

  • Activities; walking, strength training, swimming, biking, yoga, tai chi and other low-impact activities may help with pain and function of the knee
  • Lighten up; a 2007 review found that overweight people who lost a moderate amount of weight had reduced pain and disability from knee OA
  • Braces, sleeves other devices can help reduce pain and stiffness, take weight load off the affected joint and improve confidence and function for those with knee OA
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS uses electrodes to send a mild current to the affected joint, which can help alleviate pain
  • Acupuncture, balneotherapy (soaking in warm mineral springs) or heat or cold therapy may help ease joint pain for some people with knee OA
  • Medications can include acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), topical NSAIDs, prescription medications, corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections and more
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, some studies have shown, can reduce pain and improve physical function; natural supplements, including avocado, soybean, capsaicin and turmeric, may have anti-inflammatory benefits for some people
  • Joint replacement or joint-preserving surgery may be an effective option for some people

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HOW CAN DONJOY HELP?

If you have mild to severe knee OA and experience intermittent to chronic knee pain, or if you are not a candidate for surgery, ask your doctor about the science of bracing. DonJoy pioneered the concept of functional knee bracing more than 30 years ago and offers the most advanced technologies available.

Most importantly, they can help people return or continue to live an active lifestyle. No one person with knee OA is treated the same, so it’s important to look at all of the available solutions to find what is right for you. Some people may need a lot of off-loading capabilities, while others need just a slight push and comfort that surrounds the muscles around the knee.

Preventing ACL Injuries

Dr. Adam Yanke, MOR sports medicine physician, recently sat down to discuss a study that showed athletes with fatigue are at higher risk for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. One of the ACL injury prevention programs that Yanke recommends for young athletes is Knees For Life (Kneesforlife.org), which offers a downloadable brochure and an opportunity to obtain complimentary gym bag tags featuring warm up exercises and other prevention strategies.

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ACL Bracing by DonJoy

HELPING WITH PREVENTION, PROTECTION & HEALING

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DonJoy pioneered the concept of functional knee bracing more than 30 years ago. Our first prototypes were simple neoprene sleeves sewn together in the Carlsbad, Calif. garage of our founders, Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line Captain Mark Nordquist and local lawyer Ken Reed. Those first braces came from a deep understanding of the need for prevention, protection and healing, and DonJoy has led the profession of performance ever since by studying the body, listening to athletes, consulting physicians and pushing the envelope of innovation.

THE PERCEPTION

The overall perception of knee bracing technology available to most patients today is that “everyday” knee braces can be unsightly, bulky, heavy, minimally effective, restrictive and uncomfortable. These misconceptions combine to produce “brace anxiety” among many patients, often preventing mainstream adoption and compliance of braces that can help prevent injuries, allow people to remain active while healing, and protect the knee from future injury.

THE REALITY

Patients are looking for quick, effective and economic options for maintaining or regaining their life activities; most want to delay expensive, invasive surgeries. While some patients are turning to the use of prescription narcotics (which can lead to addiction) and cortisone shots to manage their pain, these treatment options do not provide stability to the knee.

THE FACTS

Young people between the ages of 15-25 account for half of all ACL injuries.

A person who has torn their ACL has a 15 times greater risk of a second ACL injury during the initial 12 months after ACL reconstruction, and risk of ACL injury to the opposite knee is two times that of the restructured knee.

Many athletes don’t return to sport after ACL reconstruction due to fear of re-injury.

BRACING FOR PREVENTION

Given the physicality of football, it’s easy to understand why collegiate and professional linemen wear braces on both knees. The line of scrimmage is an environment prone to knee injuries, so team doctors, athletic trainers and coaches don’t hesitate to equip their players with bilateral (both knees) custom braces.

As with helmets and shoulder pads, knee braces have become standard equipment to assist in preventing season-ending knee injuries. And the same logic holds true with skiing, snowboarding, soccer, basketball, volleyball, professional rodeo, water sports and others. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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BRACING POST INJURY

Why brace after ACL reconstruction? Clinicians will typically prescribe a functional knee brace after the patient has regained full range of motion—that’s usually between three to five months after surgery. Graft strength of the new ACL is considerably weaker than the native (original) ACL during the first 12 months, so a brace during this early period helps protect it from harmful forces that occur in everyday life or in sport.defiance-300x250

Bracing also elevates a patient’s confidence, allowing them to return to their previous or enhanced level of activity. Just look to athletes including Robert Griffin III, Tiger Woods, Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, Lindsey Vonn, Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning just to name a few. Another important reason? Peace of mind. A functional knee brace provides not only confidence for the patient, but confidence for the surgeon, knowing that their patient’s knee is protected.