Basketball Phenom Gets Back in the Game
June 18, 2011. It’s a day Makayla Waterman won’t forget.
The then-15-year-old Fairmont High School Firebirds varsity basketball phenom was in a three-on-three scrimmage with some of the Midwest’s best high school players at an elite University of Tennessee summer basketball camp for girls. “I was driving to the basket on the left side,” the 6’1” forward recalls. “My left foot came down and POP! It was my knee. It felt like someone had ripped my leg off.” Makayla had torn the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in her knee.
After ACL repair and diligent rehab, Makayla has rejoined her teammates on the hardwood.
Fortunately, Makayla’s father – veteran basketball player and former Dunbar High School coach Mitchell Waterman – was courtside, and her mother, Julie, was watching from the stands. With Makayla in the locker room being tended to by team doctors, Mitch called Good Samaritan Hospital orthopedic surgeon James Klosterman, MD.
A Go-To Name for ACL Repair
“Our family has known Dr. Klosterman since Makayla was 6 years old. In fact he coached Makayla’s older sister, Meghan, along with his own daughters in Amateur Athletic Union summer league play,” Mitch explains. “But that’s not the only reason I contacted him right away. I know his work. I’ve seen what he’s done for at least 15 young women with ACL tears. He uses the latest surgical techniques and gets outstanding results.”
The Watermans drove straight from Knoxville to their home in Kettering. Dr. Klosterman arranged an immediate MRI, which confirmed the torn ACL. He repaired the tear at Good Samaritan Hospital on June 28.
Advanced Techniques for Faster Recovery
“In the 1980s, ACL reconstruction required a 4-to-5-inch incision. This offered some advantages in placing the tendon graft we use for the repair, but it was painful, left a large scar and made early rehab tough,” explains Dr. Klosterman, co-medical director of The Sports Medicine Center at Good Samaritan North.
“In the 1990s, with arthroscopic reconstruction, incisions were smaller and pain was somewhat less, but we lost some of advantages of the open approach,” he continues.
“Today, we have a much better understanding of the knee’s anatomy and better techniques for harvesting and placing the tendon tissue needed for reconstruction. So the procedure requires only two 1-inch incisions. The reconstruction functions more like an uninjured ACL and the trauma to the patient is less.”
One week after surgery, Makayla started intensive rehabilitation. “Although we live in Kettering,” Mitch explains, “we decided to take advantage of the rehab program at The Sports Medicine Center at Good Samaritan North. Makayla worked with physical therapists there as well as with her team trainer at Fairmont and a personal trainer.”
“Those first three weeks after surgery were tough in a lot of ways,” admits Makayla, who has played basketball since age 5. “Sure, rehab was painful at first. But I’m carrying on a family legacy. My grandfather Ben Waterman was a legendary basketball player and coach. My father is well known for his playing and coaching. My sister, Meghan, was a standout at Alter High School and now plays for Niagara University. My team made it to the Division I state final last year. I couldn’t just sit on the bench! But that’s what I had to do. I learned a lot about patience.”
Now in her sophomore year at Fairmont, Makayla rejoined her team on the court in December.
Julie and Mitchell Waterman are taking all the right steps to help daughter Makayla stay in the game.
“Having done more than 1,000 ACL reconstructions, my colleagues and I have seen a lot of techniques come and go. Our current approaches reflect 20 years of experience providing what we believe is best for each of our patients,” notes Dr. Klosterman.
Mitch reports that the college recruiters who have been following Makayla since she was in sixth grade are undeterred by her ACL injury. “Makayla is a caring and intelligent girl – a good person and a good athlete,” Mitch observes. And, thanks to her commitment to the game, Dr. Klosterman’s professional care and the combined efforts of her trainers and coaches, he adds, Makayla’s winning future is a slam-dunk.
Weak in the Knees: Good Sam Helps Athletes Get Strong
An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear is a risk for any athlete, but girls are more likely than boys to injure the ACL, which is key to knee stability. “Girls’ knees have a natural tendency to rotate inward, which makes the ACL more vulnerable to injury,” explains Justin Kirchmer, an exercise physiologist at The Sports Medicine Center at Good Samaritan North.
“We see more ACL injuries in girls because more girls play sports today, and many play knee-stressing sports like basketball and soccer year round. We can’t change the knee’s anatomy, but we can help young women athletes strengthen their knees and learn to move in ways that lower the risk of injury.” The Sports Medicine Center offers two such programs:
- Samaritan North Athletic Performance Program (SNAPP) — Better Than Before serves athletes rehabbing from ACL surgery. Justin complements physical therapists by teaching patients return-to-play exercises and monitoring their progress. “Most people recovering from ACL surgery will do fine with physical therapy alone, but athletes need more,” Justin explains.
- Sportsmetrics™ is geared to female athletes, with both injury prevention and return-to-play components. A certified instructor covers strength, agility and training on how to jump and land to prevent ACL tears. “We can’t say that Sportsmetrics eliminates the chance of non-contact ACL injury, but it certainly lowers the risk,” Justin said.
“We encourage young female athletes to invest time in injury prevention,” said orthopedic surgeon James Klosterman, MD, a certified Sportmetrics teacher. “Most people think an ACL tear will never happen, but these young athletes are more vulnerable than they think.”
For more information about how we help athletes stay at the top of their game, call us at (937) 734-5720.