Kalli Wierwille plays just about
any sport she can. The Cincinnati teen has
played soccer, volleyball and basketball
for school and club teams, making her
one of a growing number of girls involved
in competitive athletics. Unfortunately, she
also represents another aspect of girls in
sports. She suffered a serious knee injury
that needed corrective surgery at the TriHealth Orthopedic Sports Institute (TOSI).
Kalli, now 15, is the daughter of Karen
Wierwille, 42, a bankruptcy court administrator,
and Kurt Wierwille, 44, a registered
nurse. She has two siblings, Karli, 13, and
Keegan, 9. She first injured her right knee
two years ago while trying out for the basketball
team. The injury was diagnosed as a slight tear of her anterior
cruciate ligament, or ACL, which connects the femur to the tibia.
Then in January 2015, while playing soccer, she tore it completely.
The Wierwilles turned to David E. Taylor, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon
with TOSI. “Kalli had a volleyball injury to her hand in 2013, and
her coach sent her to Dr. Taylor,” says mom Karen. “When she had
her knee injury we automatically took her back to him. We love him.”
Dr. Taylor performed reconstructive knee surgery on Jan. 29, 2015. He
took two tendons from her hamstring muscle
and made a new ACL ligament, which
he grafted to the tibia and femur at the site
of the original ACL. Knee surgeries such as
this have become “epidemic” for girls and
young women, Dr. Taylor says, for a couple
of reasons. One is anatomy: The shape of
girls’ knees and the size and angle of the
legs and hips put more stress on a female
knee than a male knee receives. Also, more
girls are playing sports than ever before,
and they often play the same sport all year
long. “The competition is higher, and they
play on multiple teams, so there are more
chances to get injured,” he says.
Kalli’s surgery and physical therapy for
rehabilitation went well, and she is back on the fields and courts.
“She’s doing great and can play anything she wants,” Karen says. Kalli
has even added competing on the track team to her hoops, volleyball
and soccer teams. “She keeps me busy,” Karen says with a laugh.
Injuries are the new normal for female athletes, but so are these
results. “These were once career-ending injuries,” says Dr. Taylor. “You
can’t guarantee a full return to function, but with modern care and rehab
it is common to get them back to doing whatever they did before.”