[to top of second column]
Why? Standard ACL repair involves drilling through the leg's growth plates, risking a stunting of any still-to-come growth.
McCall was devastated. He was a good athlete and in his small town, "we don't have a swim team. We don't have a chess club. We don't have any other options," says McCall's mother, Roxanna Maddox.
She sought out Kocher in Boston, who repairs children's ACLs in a different way: Winding the new ligament around the shinbone instead of drilling. Kocher reports patients doing well five to eight years later but acknowledges a big question: "Will it hold up 20, 30 years down the line" like the adult surgery does?
McCall took a chance with the operation and, after six months of sometimes grueling physical therapy, he was back playing football and basketball and running track in seventh grade.
"Was his mother nervous? Absolutely," Maddox says with a laugh. But McCall had "no trouble, none. ... It was a risk worth taking."
But such success stories don't make scientific proof. So Kocher is joining Dr. Allen Anderson of Nashville -- whose own pediatric ACL repair involves drilling near but not through growth plates -- and about 10 hospitals around the country to compare the different surgeries or waiting to operate, to find the best approach.
Until then, Kocher has some easy advice: Try old-fashioned play, like jumping rope, playing hopscotch, climbing trees. High school teams now are trained to avoid ACL tears with core-body conditioning and tips on bending knees for jumping -- things younger kids can learn on their own just by having fun.
"A lot of the stuff kids used to do in free play was ACL prevention," he says. "Now they don't get that, and they jump into high-level soccer."
On the Net:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/menus/children.cfm
Little League pitching info: http://www.littleleague.org/
Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Recent articles
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor