At 25 years of age, Kari Church is currently an assistant teacher at a preschool/daycare facility and very much enjoys hunting, bowling and four wheeling in her spare time. But above all, she loves playing softball. “I’ve played since I was in kindergarten,” asserts Kari. But nearly four years ago, that all changed when playing the outfield for a local softball team. “I was in the outfield and a ball was hit past first base. So, I caught the ball and when I stopped to position myself to throw it back into the infield, my left ankle just twisted. I don’t know if I stepped in a hole, or it just gave out.”
To further aggravate her condition, Kari reveals that she had probably sprained the ankle at least 10 times prior to this particular incident. At one point, she was even told that there was an old fracture present that she never knew about.
Kari’s next step was to begin a physical therapy routine, but it showed no signs of improvement after six or seven weeks. “I could have had like two pounds weight on my ankle, and it would shake,” she says. At this point, her primary care physician recommended her to the physicians at UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.
At Kari’s initial appointment, she was informed that x-rays revealed an array of issues, including an ankle fracture, ligament sprain, torn tendons and a torn ligament, along with a chipped bone and a birth defect!
Her UBMD orthopaedic physician, Dr. Jennifer Gurske-dePerio, whose focus includes foot and ankle reconstruction, tells us that she normally spends considerable time educating her patients to position them for successful recovery and self-care. She also believes that research is an integral part of her practice and is currently researching the effects of ankle fracture pattern on peak contact pressure and contact area in the ankle.
After reviewing the test results, Dr. Gruske-dePerio informed Kari that because she was so young, she had two basic choices, to take Tylenol and deal with the pain or have surgery. Says Kari, “Almost from the get-go, surgery was going to be the choice.”
So, was the choice of surgery a good decision? “Absolutely,” says Kari. “Dr. Gurske-dePerio clarified everything, even showed me where the tears were. Every appointment, she described what was going to be done and always asked if there was something that didn’t feel right or anything like that.”
When queried about the overall experience, Kari described how everyone was so helpful, so attentive to her needs. After the initial surgery on one ankle, she had surgery on the other ankle that she had also injured approximately 18 months later. Both procedures were followed up with physical therapy at a UBMD facility.
Today, she tells us there are no limitations on physical activities. “No, none at all,” she asserts. However, she does wear a brace when playing sports or running.
As for advice to anyone with similar ankle pain, Kari is quick to recommend that “if something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out. Don’t wait for a couple of months like I did. Get it looked at right away!”