Kelly's Story

Jun 6, 2019

ACL surgery Helps Stellar Athlete Overcome Set Back

girl kicking soccer ball

Kelly Solak, 12, of Grosse Pointe Woods, is part of a very athletic family. She has played for the Grosse Pointe Soccer Association since 4th grade and also plays ice hockey. Her worst enemy however was not someone from the opposing team, but the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury she received last November at the age of 11.

ACL injuries result from a tear in one of the knee ligaments that join the upper leg bone with the lower leg bone. This type of injury is common in soccer, skiing, football, and other sports with lots of stop-and-go movements, jumping, or weaving. Her mom Maureen said at the time of the injury there was no contact with another player, but she was clearly hurt. “She was dribbling the ball, made a cut to get by an opponent, and suddenly heard a “pop” coming from her left knee.”

Maureen and her husband Ken took her to a local private clinic where doctors suggested she wait over a year until she receive treatment because she was so young. “I had been injured myself and wasn’t comfortable with that recommendation since I knew further injuries can occur if the knee is not stable,” says Maureen.

The family decided to receive a second opinion at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan and consulted with Walid Khaled Yassir, MD, chief of orthopedic surgery. “The difference was night and day. I instantly felt I was in the right place for my daughter. I definitely feel if you have a pediatric injury, you need to see a pediatric specialist,” she says.

Dr. Yassir recommended that Kelly have surgery the next month. Since the initial recovery takes a couple of weeks and he did not want her to miss so much school, they scheduled the surgery right before the holiday break. “Kelly’s injury is all too common in our practice, part of the epidemic of ACL injuries in young female athletes. Our surgeons at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan have performed hundreds of these operations on young women like Kelly, and we’re glad we were able to put the family at ease and grateful for the terrific recovery that Kelly has made,” says Dr. Yassir.

Kelly had to undergo physical therapy for six months on her left knee to get it back in shape. She successfully completed the therapy and looks forward to returning to her pre-injury activities in the fall.

For other parents with young women who are participating in sports, Maureen suggests that warm up and specific exercises be done to help prevent ACL injuries in the first place. “More and more girls are getting these injuries which can lead to surgery and a long recovery. Anything you can do to prevent it from occurring in the first place should be a priority.”