Gracie Sproles, a young gymnast, was training more than 25 hours a week and putting her body through a lot of stress. It got to the point where every time she trained, she was in an extreme amount of pain, but she continued to push through it.
However, after gymnastics practice in September 2016, Gracie began noticing bruising and swelling in both of her shins. She was under the impression that she had shin splints. Unfortunately, this was the start of a career-ending injury and the beginning of a new journey.
More than a year later, in December 2017, Gracie competed in her last gymnastics competition. She landed on her elbow and cracked her growth plate during her floor routine. She visited the doctor for her elbow and after an examination, the doctor discovered she had fractures in both of her shins as well.
About a month later, Gracie saw an orthopedic specialist that told her she could continue practicing gymnastics, even with her injuries. However, in March 2018, she visited the doctor again and was then told to wear a boot because she couldn’t even walk on her left leg.
Not only was Gracie upset she could no longer compete in gymnastics, but she was also afraid she wasn’t going to ever be able to walk again.
After a lot of confusion about her diagnosis, one of her fellow teammates from Rising Star Gymnastics suggested that she visit OrthoIndy. In March 2018, Gracie came to OrthoIndy and saw pediatric orthopedic physician, Dr. Carlos Berrios, who gave her the answers she needed.
Diagnosis and beginning stages
First, Gracie was put into casts on each of her legs from the knee down for eight weeks. Every two weeks Gracie would come to OrthoIndy to get her casts changed and take new X-rays to see if she was making any improvements.
“We decided to try casting first, but due to persistent pain and lack of healing over the eight weeks, surgery was necessary,” said Dr. Berrios.
Although Gracie knew that gymnastics was no longer going to be in her future, she was grateful Dr. Berrios was giving her a chance to walk again on her own.
Gracie remained hopeful through the whole process. “OrthoIndy employees Brad and Bill always had a positive attitude and always made me laugh,” said Gracie. “Many times I just wanted to break down and cry, but Dr. Berrios, Brad, Bill and the rest of the medical team always lifted my spirits. I knew that I was in good hands.”
Tibia fracture surgery and recovery
Dr. Berrios offered two surgery options to treat Gracie’s injury. “Gracie had fractures of anterior cortex,” said Dr. Berrios. “The first option was to do intramedullary rodding, which helps stabilize the fracture or fixation with plates. However, I decided to go with the second option to use fixation with plates since we needed to achieve compression of the area to promote healing.”
After the surgery, Gracie started showing improvement. On August 1, 2018, Gracie was able to walk for the first time without any assistance.
“My OrthoIndy experience has been out of this world,” said Gracie. “Dr. Berrios is the best physician that I could have ever asked for. Without Dr. Berrios and his medical team, I wouldn’t have my life back.”
It has been a long and difficult journey for Gracie. “I still struggle daily with the insecurities of my scars, but I am more accepting towards them as each day goes on,” said Gracie. “I know that my scars don’t define me. I also know that my scars are beautiful because they gave me the ability to walk again.”
“If there was someone considering the same surgery that I had, I would highly recommend it,” said Gracie. “OrthoIndy gave me my life back and I am forever grateful.”
Even though Gracie’s injury has kept her from participating in gymnastics, it hasn’t taken her away from the sport completely. Gracie hopes to continue in the sport as a coach and help others achieve their dreams.
Gracie continues to update her story on her Instagram. Follow her @thegirlwithfireinherbones to stay updated on her journey.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Berrios please call 317.802.2847 or learn more about foot and ankle treatment at OrthoIndy.
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