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Olivia Jacobs was born with the attributes of a winning athlete. With passion, self-confidence, self-discipline and resilience, she channeled her competitive spirit into her most beloved sport: basketball. For years, she was motivated and optimistic about her future as a high school and even collegiate athlete, but setbacks followed.

A Debilitating Knee Injury

In November 2020, Olivia was enjoying a practice session before a big game for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) traveling basketball team. While drilling, she went for a layup and suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus injury to her knee.

Olivia shares, “When the impact happened, I immediately had excruciating pain. My knee was throbbing and also going numb. I was also stunned because I’d never experienced anything like that. I was initially thinking it wasn’t too bad, but then I learned it would be life-changing for me.”

Her family sped her to Wake Orthopaedics Urgent Care and after initial evaluation, they followed up with Wake Orthopaedics Sports Medicine specialist Mark Wood, MD. He ordered magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm her diagnosis of a full thickness anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and a lateral meniscus injury, and they had a follow-up consultation at Wake Orthopaedics – North Raleigh. On December 17, 2020, Dr. Wood performed a left ACL reconstruction and lateral meniscus repair at WakeMed Raleigh Medical Park Capital City Surgery Center. He then scheduled her for nine to 12 months of physical rehabilitation with Dan Menday, PT, DPT, prior to returning to basketball.

Olivia’s rehabilitation began prior to surgery with “prehab” and resumed the day following her procedure with intervals of therapy and rest. She worked with Menday, learning to utilize crutches to ambulate.

Menday explains, “There are very clear goals that have to be met in order to safely return to playing sports after ACL reconstructions. Olivia understood these goals and was able to push herself very hard every session in order to return to basketball.”

Over time, Menday helped her maneuver through a postoperative rehabilitation protocol of focused exercises to improve her range of motion and strength.

Olivia explains, “My rehabilitation after my ACL and meniscus surgery was nine months of rebuilding my leg strength with weights, agility and strengthening exercises. I had setbacks in my recovery, but I had a great team through Dr. Wood and physical therapist Menday who encouraged me and pushed me every step of the way. I didn’t know if I would get back to playing sports at times, but I was always assured that I would and could get back to playing sports if I put in the work.”

By the following year, she returned to the game she loved with full participation.

A Dislocated Shoulder

In February 2022, Olivia, a basketball player for Garner Magnet High School, was up against a rival basketball team. She grabbed a rebound, and another player pulled her arms back while attempting to steal the ball from her. The intensity of the exchange, left her with excruciating pain, but not to be deterred, she rested and went back to the game. Little did she know, she had suffered a shoulder dislocation which spontaneously popped back into place. Unfortunately, athletes who suffer a shoulder dislocation have a high risk of subsequent dislocations.

That season, she suffered two subsequent shoulder dislocations and found herself with increasing shoulder pain. Unable to shoot with precision or endure any physicality without suffering significant pain or another dislocation, she knew she needed medical intervention.

The family returned to Wake Orthopaedics. Dr. Wood evaluated her, ordered an MRI and recommended an arthroscopic labral repair to correct her recurrent shoulder instability. On April 14, 2022, Dr. Wood performed her two-hour surgery at the WakeMed Raleigh Medical Park Capital City Surgery Center. He scheduled her for follow-up rehabilitation with Dan with a plan for therapeutic intervention and the goal to return to sports in four to six months.

During rehab, Olivia was initially limited in her movement and immobilized in a sling. She worked with her physical therapist on gentle passive stretching and elbow range of motion. As she progressed, they began working on active stretching and simple strengthening.

Menday recalls, “Recovery from the shoulder surgery required a lot of patience. Regaining strength afterwards came quickly for Olivia because she already understood the hard work it takes to return to full strength.”

Within a few months, she was ready for weight-bearing and resistance strengthening, which ultimately restored her normal function and movement.

“It was a decision of whether I would get surgery or not,” reveals Olivia. “And, the decision came down to the fact that I loved sports. I loved being an athlete and being part of a team. I could have lived without the surgery, but the drive that I had to play encouraged me to go through the process of surgery and physical therapy.”

A Return to Sports

Today, Olivia has returned to basketball and started playing lacrosse for the first time. She is as dynamic and fierce as she was before her injuries and has won All Conference in Basketball and All Conference in Lacrosse.

Dr. Wood shares, “I knew from the moment I met Olivia that she was a very strong, focused and mature young lady. For an athlete to return to high level sports after one major injury and surgery is quite an accomplishment. Olivia suffered two major sports injuries which required two surgeries and extensive rehabilitation over a three-year period. The fact that she not only returned to play, but actually was able to excel and earn All-Conference accolades in two sports is simply amazing and is a credit to her hard work. The common denominator for Olivia and other young athletes’ successful journey after a major injury is a supportive team, including parents, physical therapists, athletic trainers, coaches and a dedicated Orthopaedic Sports Medicine team.”

Olivia commends, “Dr. Wood is exceptional. He is a topnotch orthopaedic surgeon, and his compassion and care for me was beyond comprehension. My surgery results exceeded my expectations. I didn’t feel like just another patient because Dr. Wood, Dan Menday and the entire team treated me like family. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

About Wake Orthopaedics

For 20 years, Wake Orthopaedics has been serving the Triangle community with comprehensive orthopaedic care to help their patients regain their mobility and restore their quality of life. With specialties and expertise in conditions of the bones, muscles and joints, our team of board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists utilize progressive treatments and state-of-the-art technology to care for everything from hip fractures to ACL injuries to arthritis. In addition to traditional orthopaedic services, Wake Orthopaedics provides trauma services, rehabilitation services and care for pediatric injuries. Wake Orthopaedics is a WakeMed Physician Practice.

About Wake Orthopaedics Physical Therapy

It’s our goal to get you back to your active lifestyle. Our techniques are based on national best practices to ensure you receive the latest, best treatment for your condition. We provide physical therapy and occupational therapy in Raleigh, Cary, the Brier Creek area and Apex, North Carolina.

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