12-year-old Charlie Wells ruptured his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) during a skiing accident when he hit something, was thrown forward resulting in his knee hyperextending and snapping the ACL.
As an active child who lives for rugby and football, Charlie’s mother Clare understood the effect the injury would have on Charlie’s life. She took advice from a family friend and orthopaedic surgeon who confirmed that Charlie should consider surgery to give him the best chance of returning to competitive sport and referred him to Professor Adrian Wilson.
Adrian explained to Charlie and his mother that an ACL repair was one of the options they should consider as it was less invasive and had a shorter recovery time than other procedures.
He said: “We met in January and Charlie ticked all the boxes for this surgery. He had the right kind of tear and at his age I believe ACL repair using the internal brace technique is the best way to deal with ACL injuries especially in children.”
Charlie’s leg had stiffened after the accident and he was struggling to straighten it. Adrian suggested he visit a physiotherapist to straighten the leg and loosen it up before the operation so Charlie started going to Richmond Physiotherapy every week.
In February 2017 Adrian repaired Charlie’s ACL in a two hour operation. After the operation, Charlie’s leg was iced to minimise the inflammation with a Game Ready – a machine that compresses and pumps cold water around a cuff on a timer. Charlie wore the Game Ready for the first four days.
Clare said: “Charlie was off school for two and a half weeks and saw the physiotherapist at least once a week until May. He then returned to hospital to have the internal brace removed. The arthroscopy showed the knee had repaired well and the internal brace was cut to allow normal growth. This was a much quicker operation, done again under general anaesthetic but we were in and out on the same day.”
Charlie continued with his regular physiotherapy and built up his fitness through cycling and swimming over the summer holidays. He played non-contact rugby and non-competitive football in September and returned to competitive rugby and football under the close eye of his physiotherapist in October.
Adrian said: “I carried out the repair in February and he has done very well. He has now got back to rugby and contact sports and the knee feels beautifully stable.
“In children who have undergone repair of their ACL using the internal brace technique we have had no failures to date and have good two year data.”