It seems like every child experiences a broken bone at least one time before they reach their teenage years. Whether it’s a child falling off his bike onto the pavement or tripping over a soccer ball during their first intramural game, injuries are inevitable.
While it’s a scary and painful time for the child it is also a frightening time for the parent. The parent is forced to decide where to take their child and often don’t have time to look at many options. Children are often rushed to the nearest ER, splinted and sent to a specialist the next day or as soon as they can be seen.
Kelly Coffey is a mother of two children, Reese who is four and Luke who is one. Like most four year olds, Reese is energetic and has a wild imagination. One day while playing she jumped off the back of the couch and fell to the ground. Reese was in extreme pain and with no time to research Kelly rushed Reese to the nearest ER.
Physician examination- elbow dislocation
Reese had a complete dislocation of her right elbow. After Reese’s arm was set and splinted, Kelly was told to follow up with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon as soon as she could.
“Aside from feeling sad from seeing her in pain, I was scared, confused and a little frustrated,” said Kelly. “I knew we needed to focus on getting her to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and a plan for getting her elbow fixed. It was also challenging to explain to Reese what was going on in a way that she would understand.”
While elbow dislocations are not very common, they typically occur when a person falls onto an outstretched hand. When the hand hits the ground, the force is sent to the elbow. An elbow dislocation happens when the joint surfaces of an elbow are separated. Elbow dislocations can be complete, like in Reese’s case, or partial.
“After little communication back from the hospital where I thought I should take Reese, I decided to give OrthoIndy a call,” said Kelly. “From the mom perspective I wanted her to be given the all clear and Reese wanted to know when she would be able to go back to preschool. Okay, well she was also really more concerned about when she could go back to gymnastics.”
That’s when Kelly made an appointment with Dr. Carlos Berrios, an OrthoIndy surgeon, who specializes in pediatrics.
“I thought worst case scenario is OrthoIndy won’t have any openings and I would just have to keep trying other orthopedic surgeons,” said Kelly. “The woman who took my call was so helpful and said she couldn’t promise anything, but she would see if any of the doctors could work Reese in that day.”
An hour later Kelly was called and notified that Dr. Berrios was able to work her into his afternoon schedule and to head on in to OrthoIndy.
“Every single person we encountered at OrthoIndy was so nice and helpful and we felt like the process flowed very quickly without sacrificing personal touch and quality care,” said Kelly. “Hours after Reese got her cast she was still talking about the cast tech and how funny and nice he was. I was amazed at his ability to interact with the patients and put them at ease.”
In the eyes of a four year old Reese’s injury affected her entire life. She had to be very careful playing, she wasn’t able to swim in the pool as she had the rest of summer and learning to write at preschool required a little bit of help.
“A complete dislocation is extremely painful and usually fairly obvious,” said Dr. Berrios. “The arm will look deformed and may have an odd twist at the elbow.”
An elbow dislocation can be treated nonsurgically or surgically. Luckily, Reese’s injury did not require surgery. The normal alignment of the elbow can usually be restored by keeping the elbow immobile in a splint or sling for two to three weeks, followed by early motion exercises.
Recovery from a dislocated elbow
“Thankfully Reese’s time in a cast was relatively short and since the cast has been off she practices bending and straightening her arm on a regular basis,” said Kelly. “Throughout all her visits she hasn’t been scared at all and I know it is thanks to the staff at OrthoIndy.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Berrios please call 317.802.2847. or learn more about elbow treatment options at OrthoIndy.