As a gymnast, Kennedy risks the chance of injury each time she practices or competes. One misstep is all it takes for a painful mishap to occur. But Kennedy knows that with the risk of injury comes the possibility of greatness, which is why today, even after suffering through an intense wrist injury, Kennedy is still in love with the high-impact sport of gymnastics.
Since the age of eight, Kennedy has been captivated by the beauty and dynamism of gymnastics. At 14-years-old, Kennedy is a dedicated athlete, training five days a week for five and a half hours each day at Metropolitan Gymnastics in Kent. Her commitment has earned her an invitation to the Olympic Training Center in Texas multiple times and a high-performance camp at UCLA that only 16 girls in the nation are asked to attend.
One of the events Kennedy participates in is vault – particularly, the Yurchenko vault. First performed in 1982, Yurchenko revolutionized the vault event for decades and continues to be one of the hardest skills to master in gymnastics. In Yurchenko, gymnasts start with a round-off onto the board, then do a back handspring or back handspring with a full twist onto the table, and a flip off of the table, usually with a twist. With technicality at this level, it’s easy to see how injuries can happen.
Kennedy was performing Yurchenko when she suddenly broke her wrist, almost ending her career as a gymnast. With a damaged growth plate and excruciating pain, Kennedy underwent x-rays and an MRI at another orthopedic office, but was told her injury was simply due to “overuse” and would heal on its own. After five more months of devastating pain, Kennedy knew something wasn’t right. Our own Dr. Traci Barthel saw Kennedy and the x-ray she brought with her and immediately knew the injury was more than overuse; Kennedy had a broken wrist.
Right away, Dr. Barthel put Kennedy in a cast for four weeks. Kennedy knew the recovery process was going to be slow and perhaps frustrating, but she was happy to finally be on the right track. To speed up the process, Kennedy made frequent visits to her cranial chiropractor, did ARP wave therapy, acupuncture and ate bone broth, turmeric and cherry juice to naturally help the inflammation. Despite her pain and frustration, Kennedy continued to train daily, focusing on back tucks, front layouts and other moves that don’t require arm use.
Less than a month after having her initial cast removed, Kennedy was put back into a cast for eight more weeks – something just wasn’t quite right – but even after the additional eight weeks of being in a cast, Kennedy’s wrist still wasn’t completely healed. An x-ray showed some persistent bruising in Kennedy’s growth plate and it was back into a cast for three more slow-moving weeks. Luckily, the third time was the charm. Dr. Barthel removed Kennedy’s final cast and had her attend physical therapy for four weeks to help fully repair her wrist.
To expedite her healing process, Kennedy underwent PRP injections in her wrist at our clinic. The injections worked so well, Dr. Ty Jones recommended doing some in both of Kennedy’s knees, where she had suffered from Osgood-Schlatter disease for over two years. The results in both her wrist and knees were outstanding. Kennedy and her family say they noticed an enormous difference in the speed of her recovery.
Today, Kennedy is largely pain free and steadily making her way back to star-athlete status through hard work and determination. She is currently training for level 10 (the highest level in the Junior Olympic program) and is working toward earning a college scholarship in gymnastics. We’re honored to have been a part of Kennedy’s journey and are so proud of her!
If you experience an injury and want to get back to your healthy, active lifestyle, please contact us today at 425.656.5060 to schedule an appointment with our POA orthopedic doctors at our one of our orthopedic clinics.