Female Football Player Defeats Labrum Injury

Sports medicine patient Sophie Shaw.

August 09, 2019

Sophie Shaw, a multisport athlete at Blue Valley Northwest High School, has always had a passion for football.

“I started playing football in kindergarten, but I didn’t become serious about it until high school. Now it’s become part of who I am,” she says.

As the only female football player on her team, Sophie knew she could face obstacles, including injuries. She dislocated her shoulder on 2 different occasions during football practice, but she didn’t let it slow her down.

It wasn’t until she felt a sharp pain in her left shoulder during drills at a basketball practice that she knew something more serious was happening. The head athletic trainer at Blue Valley Northwest, Christy Grimes, MS ED, ATC/L, CSCS, immediately noticed Sophie was in serious pain. Christy, who works for The University of Kansas Health System, was able to stabilize Sophie’s shoulder and put it in a sling until she could get a priority appointment with orthopedic surgeon Scott Mullen, MD.

Once Sophie saw Dr. Mullen, he diagnosed her with a labral tear in her shoulder. He says he frequently sees labrum injuries in young athletes, especially football players.

“Labrum injuries are very common in young athletes who play contact sports, including football. When the labrum tears, it no longer serves as a buffer. Surgery is often used to repair the labrum if the patient has already dislocated their shoulder in the past. The return to sport after surgery is about 6 months,” says Dr. Mullen.

Sophie had surgery on January 15, 2019, to repair her shoulder. She was forced to miss her entire basketball season. Instead, she focused on rest and recovery.

She went through labral tear physical therapy with Mike Johnson, PTA, twice a week at the Sports Medicine and Performance Center. He helped her improve her strength, agility, flexibility and increase her range of motion.

Five months later, Sophie was ready to hit the field again. She credits hard work and a positive mindset for getting her through the setback.

“The entire experience was very humbling. When you have a positive mindset, you’ll have a positive outcome. My mentality really helped me during my recovery,” she says.

Her mother, Kristy Shaw, is especially grateful for the care she received from both Christy and Dr. Mullen.

“I am so thankful that Christy was there during her basketball practice and that The University of Kansas Health System provides a full-time athletic trainer for Blue Valley West High School. If it weren’t for Christy, Sophie’s injury could have been much worse,” she says.

Sophie is also thankful for the sports medicine team and their support during a challenging time.

“The University of Kansas Health System is amazing. Everyone believed in me and contributed to my recovery so I could get back to playing football,” she says. “Now I’m ready for football season at Blue Valley Northwest. I hope to one day try out for a semiprofessional women’s league.”

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