In April 2019, Mark Mitchell was practicing at USA Basketball Camp, hoping to play with the team internationally in the summer. On the last day of camp, the unexpected happened.
“I was on a fast break,” Mitchell says. “I tried to dunk on a guy, and I landed awkwardly – not in a bad way, but I felt a little something in my knee. Usually, I can just run it off, so I finished that game and started another game before I thought, ‘Maybe I should just sit down.’ At the time I thought maybe my knee was just sore.”
After being evaluated at camp, Mark was advised to ice it and see how he felt when he got back to Kansas City.
A serious athlete gets sidelined
Mark’s a seasoned athlete. When he was younger, he played football and ran track. “I ran track until 8th grade, went to the Junior Olympics 6 times and won the long jump twice in back-to-back years,” he says. “I ran the 100 and 200 and was in the top 25 in the country for 6 years.”
He started playing basketball competitively when he was 7 years old. Now, as a 6’ 8” small forward he played for Bishop Miege and now plays for Sunrise Christian in Wichita, Kan., his club team KC RUN GMC and USA Basketball.
Once back in Kansas City after camp, Mark tried to practice the next week, but his knee “wasn’t feeling like I thought it should.” He and his father, Mark Mitchell Sr., went to see orthopedic surgeon Vincent Key, MD, at The University of Kansas Health System. Dr. Key is board-certified in orthopedic surgery and orthopedic sports medicine. He is also an expert in knee, shoulder and elbow injuries. Coincidentally, Dr. Key had coached the younger Mark in youth basketball.
After examining Mark, Dr. Key sent him for an MRI and diagnosed him with a chondral injury to his right patella, or cartilage damage under his kneecap. “It’s a pretty common injury for athletes in running and jumping sports,” says Dr. Key. “It’s a hyper-extension injury. He had a flap of cartilage that was causing inflammation in his knee. I did an arthroscopic procedure and basically smoothed out the cartilage that was catching like a hangnail causing inflammation.”
Tough but expert physical therapy
One week after surgery, Mark started physical therapy with Vanessa Winters, DPT, at The University of Kansas Health System Sports Medicine and Performance Center. The center specializes in the rehabilitation of athletic injuries in a professional, motivating and sports-oriented environment.
From August 28 to November 20, walk-in care will be available 8-11 a.m. Saturdays at the Sports Medicine and Performance Center located at 10730 Nall Ave., Suite 200, in Overland Park. Additionally, extended weekday hours allow you to make appointments with a physician until 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday for orthopedic injuries. Learn more https://www.kansashealthsystem.com/news-room/news/2021/07/sports-medicine-extended-hours