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Broken Right Leg: Maddux’s Story

Meet Maddux

Fifteen-year-old Maddux Radosevic is a three-sport athlete—the classic trifecta of football, basketball and baseball. But ask him which his favorite is, and he doesn’t hesitate. It’s baseball. He’s been playing it since he was old enough to hold a bat.

So, when he broke his right leg playing freshman football for the Rockhurst Hawklets, it not only stopped him from finishing his football season and prevented him from playing basketball, it threatened to keep him from the sport he loves most—baseball.

Maddux’s injury occurred Oct. 21, 2019 during the next to last game of his freshman season. Playing defensive tackle, as he went to sack the opposing team’s quarterback at the end of the second quarter, he was hit in the back and went flying through the air.

He landed on his right leg, breaking the tibia in two spots, and the fibula in one. The tibia is better known as the shinbone, and is the larger of the two, supporting most weight-bearing activities. The fibula, or calf bone, is the smaller bone next to it and provides stability to the ankle joint.

“It was pretty clear that my leg was broken,” Maddux said. “My foot was facing the opposite direction it was supposed to, and I was in a lot of pain. I landed right by my coach. He looked at me and said I had broken it.”

A challenging injury

Maddux was taken to a local orthopedic clinic where they put a splint on his leg, then sent him to the emergency room at the Children’s Mercy Adele Hall campus.

Once there, doctors tried to set his broken leg, but couldn’t. Instead, they put Maddux in a cast that went from his toes to his hip, and scheduled him for surgery.

A few days later, Mark Sinclair, MD, a Children’s Mercy orthopedic surgeon, placed a rod in Maddux’s right leg that went from his ankle to his knee, helping to stabilize it.

After an overnight stay, Maddux was released from the hospital, this time wearing a cast extending from his toes to his knee. The challenge? Dr. Sinclair ordered Maddux to stay off his leg for the next month.

“Maddux is 6’1” and he had to sit in a wheelchair with his leg in a cast, extended straight out,” explained his mom, Lori Radosevic. “It was quite a challenge.”

Even so, Maddux returned to classes at Rockhurst a week after his injury. “I really missed school,” he said. “I especially like my English, math and broadcasting classes, and I’m active in a lot of clubs.”

One month after surgery, Dr. Sinclair gave his patient the green light to trade his wheelchair for a pair of crutches. “That was one of our happiest days,” Lori said.

He also started physical therapy at the Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine Center’s Village West facility. Nicole Hogan, DPT, was Maddux’s physical therapist.

Hard work ahead

“Early on we were very limited with what Maddux could do because of the restrictions on weight-bearing activities,” Nicole explained. “Maddux had spent a lot of time in a wheelchair, and that reduced his muscle strength. We had our work cut out for us.”

Maddux agreed. “My legs were probably one of the strongest things about my body. I had a lot of work to do to get my strength back.”

Nicole and Maddux also were trying to beat the clock. He wanted to be back in playing form for baseball tryouts—the one sport he definitely did not want to miss this year.

To reach that goal, Nicole used several pieces of equipment unique to Village West, including the hydrotherapy pool and the anti-gravity treadmill, which uses NASA-developed technology to unweight patients.

Both the pool and the treadmill reduce the impact on the patient’s joints while walking or running during rehab, an important feature for Maddux.

“The pool was probably my favorite thing to use at Village West,” Maddux said. “Even though I was in the pool, it was very inspirational for me to be able to walk. That gave me a lot of confidence. It was something different and I felt like it really sped up my recovery.”

“We used the pool to work on Maddux’s motion and strength,” Nicole explained. “It helped to normalize his gait and accelerate regaining his mobility, building his foundational strength so that he could transition to activities on dry land, like running and jumping.”

Over the next three months, Maddux made great progress in his rehabilitation, coming to sessions twice a week at Village West, conveniently located near I-435 West and Parallel Parkway.

“One of the hardest things about therapy was the time commitment,” Lori said. “We live in Missouri, so Village West was a bit of a hike for us, but it was so worth it. The facility is amazing, and Nicole was just such a bright spot for us. She was encouraging and helped Maddux regain his confidence so he could get back to sports.”

Nicole also gave Maddux a program he could work on from home, and he did it faithfully.

“Maddux took each step in stride,” Nicole said. “If I asked him to do something, he did it because he knew that it was going to help him get better. His positive outlook says a lot about his character, and helped him make great progress each step of the way, ultimately achieving his goal of being ready for baseball tryouts.”

Like family…


Nicole Hogan (physical therapist) with her patient, Maddux

As his therapy came to a close, Nicole put Maddux through the paces, utilizing the batting cage at Village West to see how well he would tolerate turning, twisting, stressing his right leg in a real-life sport-specific situation, and performing functional testing before releasing him to return to play.

For Maddux and his mom, that last therapy session was bittersweet.

“Nicole genuinely cares about Maddux. She always asked about how things were going at school and about life beyond rehab. It was uplifting for him to see her,” Lori said.

“Before I would go in to see Nicole, I would have a lot of doubt and uncertainty in my mind about whether I was going to be able to return to play. But every time I left therapy, I would feel confident about the direction I was going with the recovery process,” Maddux said.

“I developed a rapport with Maddux and his mom,” Nicole added. “We became like family and I did all I could to be certain Maddux could achieve his goals.”

Baseball season on pause

Shortly after Nicole cleared Maddux to return to play, he tried out for the Rockhurst freshman baseball team and despite some formidable odds, he made it!

“Forty students tried out, and only 18 made the team,” Lori said. “We are really proud of Maddux.”

Maddux was thrilled, but he admits he missed quite a bit of school to go to therapy and get his leg back in shape. “It wasn’t easy to keep up, especially in my biology class,” he said.

But keep up, he did. Through it all, he maintained a 4.1 grade point average, in spite of having some tough college prep classes.

Today, his leg is doing great. “Right now, I absolutely feel 100%. I can do long distance running and weight lifting. I feel like I am back to where I was before the accident,” he said.

Despite the fact that Maddux is ready to play ball, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, baseball season is now on pause for Rockhurst, and for the nation.

But for Maddux, it’s not time wasted. He’s been faithfully keeping up with the home running program Nicole gave him just before he left therapy. “That’s really come in handy to help Maddux stay in shape, especially during this down time,” Lori said.

Looking back on his experience, Lori said Maddux was lucky to have such a terrific team behind him at Children’s Mercy, all focused on caring from middle school to college-age athletes.

“Because Maddux is 15 and on the verge of becoming an adult, we wondered if Children’s Mercy was the best place for him, but it definitely was,” Lori said. “Dr. Sinclair was amazing. He treated Maddux like an adult and always had great advice for him about what he needed to do to continue moving forward.”

Maddux liked his orthopedic surgeon, too. “I definitely felt I was in good hands. Dr. Sinclair was awesome.”

And so was Nicole. “Nicole did everything she could to help Maddux reach his goals,” Lori said.

Maddux added there were times when therapy was painful, but worth the effort. “I always felt like I was going to be able to get better and get back to sports,” he said. “I had to persevere, but I felt like through the whole process that I would be okay and would get back to where I was.”

For Nicole, Maddux is a great example of someone who will continue to benefit from the home exercise program she gave him before his therapy sessions concluded.

“So many people think once they are released from rehab, they’re done, but that’s not true. Maddux’s continued diligence with his home exercise program is essential for him to make further improvements, maintain gains he’s made toward his goals, and decrease risk of reinjury. That hard work and maintenance is what his body needs to be able to stay healthy, play sports and prevent future injuries,” Nicole said.

And though Maddux was a model patient and Nicole wishes him the best, she doesn’t want to see him back at Village West.

“I hope I can continue to follow Maddux throughout his high school career,” Nicole said, “and I hope to see him outside of this gym, not back here at rehab for another injury.”


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