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Torn Left ACL: Saneea’s Story

Meet Saneea

From the moment Saneea Bevley tore her ACL on April 26, 2019, she had just one goal—get back on the basketball court.

After all, basketball is life for this talented 16-year-old who plays point guard for the Blue Springs South Jaguars. She’s a player who was already generating interest as a potential college recruit when the unthinkable happened.

“I was playing on a competitive AAU team at a tournament in Pennsylvania when I went for a layup and came down on my left leg wrong,” Saneea said.

When she hit the ground, she was down for the count. “I was lying on the floor screaming,” she said. “I thought I had broken my leg. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst pain I’ve ever felt, it was a 10.”

Saneea’s coaches picked her up and took her to a room where they iced her knee and gave her some crutches. “I stayed to support my team while they finished the tournament, ‘crutching around,’” she said.

A “dream” patient

When Saneea got back to Blue Springs three days later, her parents took her to the emergency room at Children’s Mercy East. There, the doctor scheduled an appointment for an MRI. Then she saw Kevin Latz, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon and Chief, Sports Medicine at Children’s Mercy.

Dr. Latz confirmed Saneea had torn her ACL. She also had a small meniscus tear, and had sprained her medial and lateral knee ligaments.

Dr. Latz scheduled surgery for July 22, 2019, but first, Saneea went through prehab therapy at the Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine Center Blue Valley facility. Her workouts helped to strengthen her leg in preparation for the outpatient orthopedic knee reconstruction Dr. Latz would perform.

Following her successful reconstruction, Saneea was anxious to start rehab and get on the road to recovery. She could bear weight on her left leg as tolerated, but had to be very careful. A few weeks later, Dr. Latz released her to begin rehab, and she began seeing Zach Gove, PT, DPT, CSCS, Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine physical therapist at Blue Valley. He helped guide her through the rehabilitation process.

“Saneea was a dream patient,” Zach said. “She was very quiet and determined—totally focused on getting back to playing basketball. She did everything I asked, including the exercises I gave her to do at home. She pushed me as much as I pushed her.”

Initially, Saneea’s rehab concentrated on regaining the range-of-motion in her left leg, while preventing strength loss, pushing so it would match the performance of her healthy right leg. After a few weeks, Zach advanced her to the next level, continuing to work on strength and balance, key elements to help her get back to the sport she loves.

About 12 weeks into therapy, Zach had Saneea jogging and doing light jumping before advancing to actual agility drills.

“Once I put a basketball in Saneea’s hands, you could see a switch flip on in her head,” Zach said. “From that moment on, I put a basketball in her hands as much as possible. Simulating the game environment was very motivating for her.”

As Saneea neared the end of her therapy, Zach performed Biodex testing, and his patient passed with flying colors. Biodex is a device used to evaluate strength, endurance, and power of the major muscles in patients before surgery and throughout the rehabilitation process.

Begging to play basketball

“At the beginning, therapy was hard,” Saneea admitted. “There were times I would cry and break down, but as rehab progressed, I could tell it was getting easier and easier. It got to the point where I was begging to play.”

By early January, Saneea got her wish. Zach and Dr. Latz released her to return to practice, then gradually to play, as long as she wore her functional brace.

“The brace helps stabilize the knee during athletic activity,” Zach explained. “Most student-athletes get a functional brace about six weeks into therapy. We recommend they wear it for at least the first year to help prevent reinjury.”

And though she missed the first part of her freshman season because of the injury, Saneea finished strong, playing in a total of 11 games.

In fact, by the end of the season, Saneea said her left knee felt 100% with her brace on. “I’m still wearing it so that I don’t get injured again.”

With the high school basketball season over, Saneea normally would be practicing with her AAU team now, preparing for games. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, those games are on hold. That’s hard for a player as serious as Saneea, but thanks to Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine, she’ll be ready when games resume.

“It felt great to get back out on the court,” Saneea said. “I broke down because I was so happy to be out there again and play basketball.

“I love everything about this sport,” Saneea said. “I want to be the best player out there. Working hard. Scoring and leading my team and pushing them. That’s what I love. That’s what puts a smile on my face.”


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