UPHS orthopedics and sports medicine gets Emily back on track

GWINN — The Curtice family heard all the misconceptions from others. They suggested that if her daughter, Emily, wanted to receive the best reconstructive treatment for her knee injury, they should go to Green Bay.

“People said we should go to this doctor or this surgeon because they take care of the Packers,” Sharon Curtice said.

Mark Stonerock, ATC, LAT, of UP Rehab had already built a trusting relationship with the Curtice family; he ended up getting choked up himself when he heard how Emily tore her ACL in a volleyball match. Knowing he had a genuine interest in her care and treatment, Mark was asked for his medical opinion about where her daughter should get surgery.

“He said, ‘You know, I have no doubt that Dr. Timothy Neuschwander at UPHS — Marquette is one of the best at what he does,’ ” Sharon said about what Mark told her. “He spoke highly of Dr. Neuschwander and his experience. Once we met with Dr. Neuschwander, he was just so good about explaining things to us. He had a great bedside manner, and to us, that was very important because it reassured us that he was going to walk us through and talk us through each step.

“I’ve gone through other surgeries with other people and was not expecting the level of compassion he showed, and he explained things so, so, well and I really appreciated that about him.”

“Knew something was wrong”

Sports have always played a role in Emily’s life. She loves to compete, enjoys the camaraderie of being on a team while working together towards an objective. She has goals of competing in collegiate track and has already received interest from multiple schools. But she also excels in team sports, including volleyball and basketball. During a summer team camp, Gwinn girls basketball coach Ben Olsen was impressed by her showing and told her she would be on the varsity team as a sophomore the following winter. It was the same for volleyball, where Emily would also play at the top high school level despite being an underclassman.

It was the fifth game of the volleyball season when Emily’s dreams of competing in those two sports would come to an end for that season. In a match at Negaunee, she went out and attempted to hit a far out set, only to land on one leg while her knee collapsed inward.

“I just ended up on the floor, and I felt everything shift,” Emily said. “I knew something was wrong.”

Before the trainer removed Emily from the court, the family called Mark to get his thoughts. He walked her through the proper steps, and the Curtices scheduled an appointment for the next morning. Sharon is a PT assistant by trade and after hearing Emily discuss what happened, she figured it was her ACL.

“It was very emotional because your hopes for your season were gone,” Emily said. “

There was so much swelling when Emily met with Dr. Neuschwander that he had to wait for it to go down before performing surgery. A week later, Emily had an MRI and a torn ACL was confirmed, as well as a torn MCL. Dr. Neuschwander also found the meniscus to be torn when he performed the surgery.

In addition to Dr. Neuschwander’s caring demeanor and readiness to answer any of Emily’s questions, the family noted the exceptional care from the nursing staff during their stay.

“All the nurses that took care of me were very kind and patient,” Emily said. “They were very good at explaining how things were going to be done, and if I had any questions, they answered them very well. Overall, a very good experience for what I was there for.”

Road to recovery

Emily spent the first few weeks after surgery immobile and not able to put any weight on her reconstructed knee. Once Dr. Neuschwander determined that her knee was stable enough to begin physical therapy, Emily was referred to UPHS – Rehab Services.

Emily’s first rehab appointment was with Kate Hosking (PT, DPT, OCS, Board Certified Specialist). Kate went over the timeline with Emily and let her know what was ahead of her. A return for the middle of track season was a possibility, but it would all come down to how her knee would react to the therapy. There would be no rushing Emily back.

“That’s what I liked about UP Rehab,” Sharon said. “They were very real with us and kept emphasizing that it’s not about this year, it’s not about the short-term. She has her whole life ahead of her, and I really appreciated that because I’ve been told by other people that have gone through stuff like this that you should go to this therapist because they got him or her back, but I really appreciated their long-term vision vs. caving to what the kid wants.

“They understood her desire to get back, but they also recognize it’s a long-term thing and she has a long future ahead of her. They knew they had to do it right and take as long as it takes to be whole again.”

Kate ’s athletic background made it easier for Emily to relate to her, and Kate always made sure to give a little push to Emily when she needed it. Sharon and Emily both appreciated how Kate was always looking for the best exercises or practices to treat Emily in order to give her the best outcome possible.

“Kate would be looking up things, exercises to do, cutting edge stuff to try with Emily to try to maximize her therapy session,” Sharon said. “Knowing she would go home each night and then seeing what she could come up with to challenge Emily and help her rehab was great to see.

“She is very up to speed on the latest research. She would share that with us so it wasn’t just her opinion; it was backed by medical studies and facts. That was also very comforting. It made us more secure in the decisions that were made.”

Back on track

After three track meets, Emily was back. She competed in the 100-meter dash, 4×100 relay, high jump and discus. Despite her injury and rehab, she was able to qualify for UP Finals in the relay, 100 and high jump.

Emily’s success continued into this past fall; she earned all-conference honors for volleyball in the Mid-Peninsula conference and West-PAC conference. Now, she’s looking forward to getting back on the basketball court this winter.

“Sports are something I’ve always looked forward to,” Emily said. “When I couldn’t do that, it was really hard for me, and so finally getting back into the shape of things and being able to compete again just really meant a lot to me.”

She’s now back to where she was, just a year later, playing the sports that were an essential part of her life and looking forward to competing with her teammates. She didn’t go to Green Bay, but instead, was treated by the experts at UP Health System.

“After getting through that first awful time, it ended up being a really awesome, positive experience,” Sharon said. “I tell everybody that, and I tell everybody that they don’t have to go to Green Bay. We have a great staff here who is really approachable and really knowledgeable.”

For more information about UPHS orthopedic services, or to make an appointment, visit mgh.org or call 844.411.UPHS.

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