My 11 year old daughter had ACL surgery about 4 months ago after tearing her ACL in a soccer tournament.
I’ve written about the initial diagnosis, selecting a doctor and surgery options and updates, as well as, the first week post operation. This is a follow up to those posts now that we’re a bit further into the rehabilitation phase.
First of all, this is a picture of Jaeda’s knee about 3 months post ACL surgery. You can see the line just below her knee where they harvested her hamstring tendon, as well as the round scars from the scope, but they aren’t too bad.
Physically Jaeda is doing well. She’s met all of her physical therapy goals for extension and flexion and is working on strengthening her quad muscle. When you compare her legs side by side you can see some atrophy of her thigh muscle on the injured leg.
The surgeon said it’s normal and to be expected, but it still bothers me. I want her to exceed all expectations and astound everyone with her progress. I don’t particularly want to hear a doctor tell me my 11 year old has muscle atrophy. Just the word makes me cringe. Ugh.
He also said (after I asked) that her left knee – the injured one – feels a bit looser than her right one. I’m not sure if that will tighten up with further healing or is due to the tension they put on the tendon during surgery. Maybe they should have made it shorter? I’m not sure. I’ll ask again at her 6 month check up.
Jaeda was released at her 12 week check up to start doing linear exercise – such as track. Nothing that would twist her knee, but running in a straight line is ok now. Yay!
Physical therapy is down to once a week with exercises to do at home. I will guiltily admit that there hasn’t been much actually done at home. I’ve reminded Jaeda more than once (or 100 times) but finally decided she has to take responsibility.
Jaeda’s enjoying physical therapy more because he’s added in some more *sports-y* exercises such as side stepping over cotton balls as quickly as she can and a few others.
Because we hit our out of pocket maximum for the year I started thinking of other things we could do since basically medical is “free” until the end of year now. I decided to take Jaeda to a chiropractor. It turns out that she was very “off” in her alignment from limping and favoring her left knee. She’s been going once a week for about a month and has improved every time. I think once or twice more and she’ll be done.
If you are reading as a parent of a child with this injury, I’d recommend seeing if your insurance covers chiropractor visits.
Jaeda is ready to be done with this already. She is upset that she can’t participate in gym and has to help out the librarian while the rest of the class is having fun. She’s upset she doesn’t see her soccer friends very often. She’s upset she can’t play during recess. She’s upset.
Mentally she’s ready for this to be over and is trying to *sneak* activities that she knows aren’t allowed such as kicking a ball and taking shots on goal during recess or at her sister’s practice. That is our biggest struggle during this phase – convincing her to continue to take it easy. It’s hard being 11 and told you can’t play!
I asked the doctor about ordering a brace for Jaeda for when she goes back to playing sports. I wanted to get it ordered before the end of the year for insurance purposes. The surgeon said there is no evidence to support bracing helping and he doesn’t typically prescribe one but will if we decide we want him to. He also said some insurance plans won’t cover them because of this lack of beneficial evidence.
I think I will ask for the prescription and check with my insurance to see if it’s covered. If it is, I’ll order it – why not? That way we have the choice to use it or not. If it isn’t covered by insurance it becomes a tougher decision considering these braces can run $800 or more. I’m hoping it’s covered.
I’ve had a few parents contact me that are going through this with their own children. I’ve created a facebook group for those parents to ask questions of each other and support each other through this process. Please, please don’t hesitate to join if your kiddo has torn their ACL. https://www.facebook.com/groups/461268173986616/
That’s about it for now. Mostly it’s just a waiting game until the surgeon releases her to go back to sports. It isn’t even really dependent on any progress or milestones she reaches, but simply waiting until the time has passed. I think it’s 9 months to go back to soccer? And at 6 months to go back to knee “cutting” strengthening exercises? Cutting in this case meaning to plant your foot and twist your knee.
I hope this is helpful and gives you insight into what to expect!
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