Wrestler Returns to the Mat After ACL Injury

Kody Ketchum

October 08, 2019

Kody Ketchum, a sophomore at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Missouri, began wrestling when he was just 6 years old. The sport has taught him many lessons, including how to overcome setbacks. So when he tore his ACL during a wrestling match in October 2018, his first instinct wasn’t to give up, but instead, keep on going.

“I knew it wasn’t a good sign when I felt my knee give in during the match, but I didn’t want to quit,” he says. “After wrestling in the next match, my coach told me I needed to rest and see a doctor.”

A family friend recommended Kody see Bryan Vopat, MD, at The University of Kansas Health System.

After Dr. Vopat confirmed Kody tore his ACL, the next steps were surgery and physical therapy. Dr. Vopat often recommends surgery for young athletes with injuries like Kody’s.

“In Kody’s case, surgery and physical therapy were necessary for him to return to wrestling. Physical therapy is important because it helps athletes improve their strength, balance and the likelihood of returning to their sport,” he says.

After completing physical therapy, Kody enrolled in the ACL injury reduction program at The University of Kansas Health System Sports Medicine and Performance Center in Overland Park. The 6-week course is led by athletic trainers Joy Snyder and Krisha Kackley and physical therapist Megan Bechtold, DPT, OCS, CMPT. They created the program to help athletes who are recovering from an ACL injury or want to reduce the risk of developing an injury.

“Athletes participating in any sport can benefit from the ACL injury reduction program,” says Snyder. “This even includes athletes who have not sustained an injury to the ACL or knee in general, but have predisposing biomechanical factors that put them at risk for injury.”

During the program, Kody focused on strength, body awareness and functionality specific to wrestling. He always showed up ready to work, which allowed him to see improvements quickly.

“Kody never gave up and always persevered, no matter how challenging the exercises were,” says Kackley. “We were excited to see his progression during the program, but we are even more excited to see his future wrestling accomplishments.”

Now that he is back on the mat, Kody has his sights set on winning the state championship and wrestling for a Division I school in the future. He credits The University of Kansas Health System for helping him return to the sport he loves.

“This experience taught me that in order to get back to where I was, I had to work hard” he says. “I couldn’t have done it without Dr. Vopat and everyone at the Sports Medicine and Performance Center.”

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