A day of “firsts” - Sports injury benefits from quick, specialized care

Kenyon Watson

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A day of “firsts”
Sports injury benefits from quick, specialized care

Competing for the first time on the Tecumseh Middle School wrestling team was a big day for 13-year-old Kenyon Watson. It was early December and the Tecumseh team was competing in the Bulldog Invitational in West Milton. Kenyon, a football player, had joined the wrestling team as way to keep in shape during the off-season for football.

His dad Kolby Watson was in the stands when Kenyon went down. “It looked like he had landed funny, and when he didn’t get up right away, I hurried to his side thinking he had dislocated his elbow,” Kolby recalls. “When I saw his arm, I knew it was probably something worse.

The coaching staff called 911 and first responders were soon at his son’s side. “The squad members responding were not authorized to give pain medications, so Kenyon was in a lot of pain by the time we arrived at Dayton Children’s.”

When children suffer an injury to an arm or leg, it’s important they are evaluated quickly by a pediatric specialist, usually an orthopaedic surgeon, to make sure the growth plate is not damaged.  Growth plates are the developing tissues at the end of long bones that grow in length. When a child’s bones have completed growing, the growth plates harden and cause the two parts of a long bone (the epiphysis and the metaphysis) to fuse together, forming a complete bone.

In the emergency department, Dana Drazner, MD, an emergency care physician, met Kolby and Kenyon soon after they arrived at the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center. She immediately asked Kenyon how he was doing and assessed his pain.

Kenyon’s mother Heidi, who is a nurse, received a call from her husband while she was still at work. “As a mom and a nurse, I was upset, concerned, scared and my husband, who had witnessed Kenyon’s injury, was sick with worry,” she recalls. Kolby remembers that he “was in worse shape than Kenyon, who handled his injury and pain pretty well.”

Kolby and Heidi have both experienced long waits in emergency departments at adult hospitals, but that was not the case when Kenyon was brought to Dayton Children’s. “We were so impressed with the care Kenyon received. After he got back to a treatment room, people were checking on us often to make sure everything was okay. Kenyon was treated like a king.”

Dr. Drazner and one of Dayton Children’s orthopaedic residents of the orthopaedic department ordered an x-ray and after seeing the injury in more detail, requested a CT scan to get a better look. A small piece of bone—part of the growth plate—had broken off and was trapped in the joint. “The orthopaedic doctor at the time explained that Kenyon would need surgery to remove this bone fragment (about half the size of a marble) so the elbow could be returned to its normal position and said that a surgery team could be ready to go that evening.  He called one of Dayton Children’s five orthopaedic surgeons—James T. Lehner, MD—who said he could perform the surgery that evening.

 “Kenyon went into surgery around 7:00 pm and surgery was finished by 8:30 pm.  Dr. Lehner met with us after the surgery and explained everything he had done. Things went well, and we were able to take Kenyon home that evening,” Kolby recalls.

According to Dr. Lehner, the surgery performed to correct Kenyon’s injury, is “pretty straightforward for pediatric orthopaedic surgeons.” However, because the growth plate was involved, this is not straightforward for orthopaedic surgeons specializing in the care of adults.

Dr. Lehner explains that because kids heal very quickly, a growth plate injury not treated correctly can heal improperly, causing the bone to end up shorter than normal or be abnormally shaped.

“Pediatric orthopaedists see the greatest number of growth plate injuries and are specially trained and experienced in the care of injuries to growing bones and joints.” Dayton Children’s has a team of five pediatric orthopaedic specialists on-site to care for children coming into the emergency department with injuries to growing bones. 

Kenyon’s last appointment with Dr. Lehner was in March, when he cleared Kenyon to resume normal activities. “The screw in Kenyon’s elbow can stay in unless it becomes uncomfortable. After the bone is fully healed, the screw can be easily removed if the family wants that done,” Dr. Lehner says. 

“Kenyon is doing wonderfully. He started running with the wrestling team right away and was at every match cheering from the sideline,” Kolby says. “He’s an all-around athlete, football, wrestling, track, you name it.”

Today, Kenyon is the eighth-grade quarterback at Tecumseh Middle School. “I love football and I hope to play in high school, but I also want to focus on running track,” Kenyon shares.

Kenyon placed first in the 100-meter dash and the 400-meter dash at the Ohio Middle School State track meet in June. He was the first seventh-grader in the 21-year-history of this meet to place first in two events.

In June, Kenyon competed in the state and regional trials, placing in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events. This qualified him for the Junior Olympics team and in July, the Watsons traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, so Kenyon could compete nationally. In the Junior Olympics, Kenyon placed in the top 20 in all three events out of more than 4,000 competitors.

For Kenyon and his parents, it’s been a year of firsts—from Kenyon’s accident during his first wrestling match to his first-place finishes in track and field to his first Junior Olympics. For Kolby and Heidi, their first experience with Dayton Children’s was positive from start to finish, as well.

“Family is everything and you all were great to mine,” Heidi says. “From the moment we walked in to the moment we left, your skills, both medically and personally, helped us feel more at ease. Thank you!”


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