During a basketball game in Dec. 2021, 12-year-old Liam jumped up to block a shot and landed on the court in tears. Though the seasoned athlete was able to walk off the court, an MRI showed he had seriously injured his leg. The family turned to the best-in-nation orthopaedics team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
A consultation with Dr. Theodore Ganley, Director of CHOP’s Sports Medicine and Performance Center, and Bisignano Family Distinguished Endowed Chair in Sports Medicine, revealed the true extent of Liam’s injury. His ACL was torn, and there was damage to his meniscus, the extent of which couldn’t be determined without surgery. “Dr. Ganley gave us all the information and showed us all the images,” said Liam’s mom, Jennifer. “It was clear as day that Liam needed surgery.”
His ACL surgery was scheduled for Jan. 26, making Liam the first orthopaedic surgical patient at the Middleman Family Pavilion, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s new inpatient hospital in King of Prussia. Because the family lives nearby, they were relieved that the surgery would not disrupt the school-morning routine of their younger son, Joergen. “We didn’t have to stress about going down into the city or taking care of our other child when we don’t have family nearby,” said Jennifer. “To be able to do this surgery so close to home was such a gift.”
Liam’s surgery took approximately two hours, exactly what Dr. Ganley had anticipated, and the damage to Liam’s meniscus was fortunately not extensive. Liam’s family was able to join him in the recovery room within an hour after surgery, and the family was home by 3:30 p.m. — in plenty of time to meet Joergen. “I’m so thankful for how easy CHOP has made this for us,” says Jennifer.
Liam’s long road to recovery will include regular follow-ups with Dr. Ganley as well as physical therapy. While the family is bracing themselves for several months without sports, they are confident that Liam is receiving the best possible care. Says Dr. Ganley, “We look forward to Liam having an excellent result in large part due to his focus and hard-working nature.”
As for Liam, he plans to use the time away from sports to grow stronger and will also continue to pursue his love of acting. In fact, he performed in a sketch comedy show just weeks after surgery, and his injured leg was written into the script! “I’m focused on the road of ahead of me and look forward to when I make my comeback,” he says.
Update: One Year Later
Almost exactly one year from when Liam was injured, he stepped back onto the court for basketball tryouts.
“He was so happy and relieved,” says Jennifer, noting how hard Liam had worked in physical therapy to be cleared for sports. “Dr. Ganley told us to expect 9-12 month of recovery, and it was almost exactly 10 ½, which was really encouraging.”
As the Middleman Family Pavilion approached its one year anniversary, the hospital’s first surgical patient had the comeback he’d planned: He made the varsity middle school basketball team.