Restoring Dreams: Brooke's Story
Orthobiologics Help Athletes Return to Peak Performance
|Injury||Chronic pain and swelling in knees, cartilage loss|
|Outcome||Cartilage cloning in summer 2010, back on the court in 2011|
"I’ve been playing basketball for as long as I can remember. My dad’s a coach, so sports have always been a part of my life. I also played volleyball and softball over the years, and along the way I just decided to focus on basketball. I grew up in Mundelein, Illinois, and I was on the team at Mundelein High School.
"It wasn’t like the problems with my knees suddenly appeared; things just gradually became worse over time. By my freshman year of high school I needed an OATS (osteoarticular transfer system) procedure, which involved transplanting cartilage from one part of my knee to the damaged area. Roger N. Chams, MD performed my surgery. We had heard about his work at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital from family friends, and they all had such good things to say.
"Just a year later, I started having pain in my other knee—the 'good' one. I went back to Dr. Chams and he performed a lateral release to realign my kneecap. After that, things seemed to be going well. But senior year, the pain came back. My knees would buckle or just give out from under me. I went through my whole senior year working through the pain, and I received a basketball scholarship to Oakland City University, a private college in southern Indiana.
"But the pain kept getting worse, and I had to return to Dr. Chams. He was familiar with my history and determined that now I had a large defect in my cartilage. So, here I was just a few months away from starting my college basketball career, and I needed to have surgery again.
"Dr. Chams thought I might benefit from a new, advanced technique using my own cells. It sounded crazy to me—removing and then 'cloning' my own cells in a laboratory. But it could make my knee exactly how I needed it to be; my basketball plans might be saved, and I could avoid more surgery and arthritis.
"My experience at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital was really great. I don’t do very well with needles, but everyone was so nice and they made me feel comfortable with everything. My cartilage was removed; millions of cells were grown in a laboratory and then reinserted into my knee five weeks later. It took time to recover and give the cartilage a chance to form to my knee. But I kept up with physical therapy and things went pretty fast. I was redshirted (not playing competitively) my freshman year at Oakland City, but now I’m playing again.
"It was a little surprising that I could get this care right here at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and not have to travel really far away. Without my surgeries—especially the most recent one—I probably wouldn’t be playing basketball, and that’s what’s helping me go to college. It’s a miracle to me that I can keep playing. I’m even stronger than before, and I know it will be a great season."