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Maggie Richardson, a freshman at Blue Valley High School in Overland Park, KS, jumped up to spike a volleyball during a pre-tryout practice – a routine play that she had done plenty of times. But this time her landing was different. When Maggie came down, she felt a shift in her knee.

“It was kind of dramatic, I’m not gonna lie,” Maggie recalls, laughing. But it was no laughing matter at the time. In August 2020, Maggie had torn the ACL and meniscus in her left knee from the landing.

Caitlin Truhe, an athletic trainer with the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at The University of Kansas Health System, was at the practice to assess Maggie’s injury.

“I could see immediately how it happened,” recalls Truhe. “It was non-contact. She jumped up and leaned on her leg and her landing didn’t feel right. So we got her off the court, got her knee wrapped up and gave her instructions for the evening."

Maggie’s instructions? Go see a physician at the health system.

Mother’s intuition

It was Maggie’s mother Audra’s turn to carpool for practice the night of the injury. Audra sat in her car during the end of practice, and she was confused as to why Maggie hadn’t come to the car yet.

“I got the texts that Maggie hurt herself, and Caitlin helped her walk outside,” Audra remembers. “Maggie was trying to walk, but she really couldn't put any weight on it. It was extremely painful for her.”

That night was the first time Truhe had met Maggie, but it was not the first time she had met Audra. Truhe knew Audra from her oldest daughter, Ashlyn, who is a softball player at Blue Valley and 2 grades above Maggie.

“It was nice to be able to know Audra even though I didn’t know Maggie,” Truhe says. “There was a little bit more comfort in that interaction with Maggie.”

That comfort helped Audra and Maggie take Truhe’s advice. The next day, Maggie was seen by advanced practice provider Stephanie Caldwell at the office of orthopedic surgeon Bryan Vopat, MD, also with the health system’s sports medicine program. After an X-ray, Audra and Maggie were told a torn ACL was likely, but the provider recommended an MRI to confirm.

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