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Sports Medicine

Success story: Amber's return to softball

What is an Athletic Trainer?

Why Should I Exercise?

Amber Affholter
When life throws you a curve ball, be sure to call one of Oakwood's Sports Medicine physicians. Last year, downriver resident Amber Affholter, who plays collegiate softball as a catcher at Rider University, suffered a serious knee injury. Marc Milia, MD, medical director of Oakwood Sports Medicine, reconstructed the ligaments in Amber's knee. Soon after surgery, Amber began a rehabilitation program through Oakwood, and successfully returned to the lineup at Rider University this spring. This is just one of the many success stories Oakwood Sports Medicine physicians have to share. To learn how Oakwood's Sports Medicine can help you hit a home run, please call 800.543.WELL.

Kayla Gory
By Lisa Hendrixon
ATC Head Athletic Trainer Lincoln Park High School

Kayla Gory is a typical freshman at Lincoln Park High School; she enjoys sports, hanging out with friends and working with computers. What sets her apart from other students is her prosthetic right leg.  Kayla has never let her disability slow her down. She is an inspiration to athletes, coaches and all who come in contact with her.

Kayla was born with a birth defect known as proximal femoral focal defect, (PFFD) which affects approximately one in 50,000-200,000 people. PFFD caused her femur to be shortened, flexed and externally rotated and also affected the functional ability of her right knee. When she was three years old, she had a Van Nes procedure to make her leg more functional, where the doctors reversed her right foot so that the heel of the foot formed a useable “knee joint.” The procedure gave her significantly more mobility, and along with a prosthetic leg, evened out the leg length difference. This procedure must be revised every three to four years due to the foot migrating back to its original position. She is only one of five people in Michigan with PFFD and a Van Nes procedure and is a resource for other people contemplating this surgery.

Kayla has loved sports from an early age and began playing T-ball in second grade. At Lincoln Park Middle School she was on the basketball and track teams. This year, Kayla is a member of the swim team and has competed in the 50 free, 100 relay, 200 medley and 400 meter races. She was also the school’s only diver. Kayla was first team all conference and took first at the Mega League Meet in diving. The prosthetic leg is not worn while swimming or diving, instead she uses her strong upper body to compensate and maintain balance. Additionally, Kayla is on the volleyball and softball teams as well. 

Because of her growth and her high level of activity, Kayla’s leg must be replaced every 1-1½ years. First her leg is casted, then a model of the prosthetic is made, a fitting is done and more adjustments are made. This procedure continues until the proper fit is achieved. 

Like many athletes, Kayla has sustained minor sports injuries and works on a daily basis with Lisa Hendrixon, an Oakwood Certified Athletic Trainer.  Part of Hendrixon’s job is injury prevention, to make sure Kayla and her teammates are safe on the playing field. During volleyball for example, her prosthetic leg must be covered. This prevents the leg from being damaged when she hits the floor, prevents injury to her right leg and to her teammates if they come into contact with her prosthetic leg. Her leg is checked on a regular basis by Hendrixon to make sure it isn’t causing any skin irritations and she is treated if there is a problem.

In the summer of 2006, Kayla went to Florida to compete in the Extremity Games – an organized sports league for disabled athletes. The Extremity Games were created to raise awareness of the ability of individuals with limb loss or limb difference to compete in extreme sports. Last year, Kayla participated in rock-climbing and attended clinics on kayaking and skateboarding. Kayla’s positive outlook has helped others to cope with the difficulties of living with a prosthetic limb. While at the games, she met a boy her age having a difficult time adjusting to the recent loss of his arm.  They talked and quickly became friends and by the time he left to go home he told Kayla their talks were helping him better manage his new life. Like Kayla, the Extremity Games mantra is “There’s No Replacement For The Competitive Spirit”. Kayla hopes to participate in this year’s games and reacquaint herself with the many friends she met last year.

The Oakwood’s Sports Medicine Program assigns an athletic trainer to each school in its service area, supported by fellowship trained sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons. The Sports Medicine Program offers students guidance in preventative injury care, managing injury care (such as facilitating visits to an orthopedic surgeon) and post-operative care so that the athlete may return to his/her sport quickly and safely.