ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Just as sports have become more specialized, so too has the medical field. Giving rise to the sports medicine industry and doctors specialized in the surgery and recovery of specific injuries.
As with all things medical, the Mayo Clinic is on the cutting edge of the field, helping athletes from near and far stay in the game after some pretty devastating injuries, just like Meghan Brown.
Life can seem easy when you have the ability to make plays and score goals with ease. Feeling like you have the whole world in front of you.
So what do you do when you feel like you’re at the top of your game and it all comes crashing down?
You either fold it in or work to come back better than ever. Folding it in was never an option for Meghan Brown.
“I’ve had people say I’m stronger than how I was before I got injured, which is such a compliment to all the hard work I’ve done and the past 11 months have really paid off,” Brown said.
As a junior, Meghan had it all figured out. She was committed to play soccer at Drake University, ready to play out her senior season with her club soccer team. Until fate handed her a huge road block.
“It’s definitely a part of who I am, I’m not gonna ever forget that day,” Brown added.
Playing in a club soccer game, Brown went to pass the ball, but felt her knee hyper-extend.
“I knew something was up, I didn’t hear a pop, but I knew something was wrong,” Brown said. “I know my body pretty well, but I kept playing for 10 minutes, but something was up and I told my coach I had to come out and my mom checked my knee and she said ‘yeah, it’s not looking too good.”
A torn ACL.
“The knee is a commonly injured joint and I think we have seen increased number of those injuries, in part because there’s more participation at higher levels, especially among women athletes, which we didn’t see many years ago,” said Dr. Michael Stuart, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Co-Director.
Knee injuries have become so common, that now Doctor Stuart only performs knee surgeries, working to repair athletes like Brown.
“I think back to the first time he did it and I knew from the MRI that it was torn and I could tell with the different tests that it wasn’t there, but now it just feels solid,” Brown said.
Doctor Stuart says the process has evolved so much over the last 40 years, that he now see’s patients who had surgery for what they thought was a torn meniscus, but was actually a torn ACL.
But things don’t just end after surgery, the process to getting back can include many months of rehab.
“It takes a long time to recover, if you have the surgery, by the time you go through the rehab and get back, it’s a lot of not doing what you like to do and so that’s tough and mentally we want people to be prepared for that,” said Dr. Ed Laskowski, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Co-Director.
“I mean they were there for me every step, from three days post-op to now. I mean I’m here five days a week, they’re kind of like my second home. I mean I know everybody here, it’s awesome,” Brown said.
Looking back on the days, Brown said this journey has taught her a lot about perseverance.
“It taught me a lot about who I am as a person. The days I didn’t want to come in here, the days I wanted to just stay in my room, I came here and I got better,” Brown said.
It may not have been her preferred path, but it’s the one she’s made the most out of.
“In hindsight, it was probably good,” Brown said. “I mean I’ve become more physically and mentally stronger and I think my game has improved. Just taking a break and focusing on the technique of my movements and everything. I think it was actually a good thing.”
Brown says her pit was in July with the injury and now she’s hitting her peak and still climbing.
Since she’s reached the end of her rehab, her focus is on going to Drake this fall, playing soccer and everything her future presents.