Alejandro Patino and his peers have become a special group of patients orthopedic doctors have treated more now than ever before. Since around the year 2000 there’s been an increase in youth sports injuries, and Dr. Vitolo has seen his share of young athletes injured playing the sport they love.
Nineteen-year-old Alejandro is the quintessential athlete in this category. The young athlete has been playing soccer for 15 years, starting at age 4. Like any athlete, the sport he loves has also had an affect on his body- he is in great physical shape but has also had an injury as a result of his sport.
“I was playing soccer. I jumped and landed on my right leg while another guy was also on top of me, so I landed with double the weight upon me and my knee twisted,” Alejandro explained.
The young athlete had surgery performed on his knee earlier by another surgeon and hoped he would make a full recovery. He did not and the condition continued, as well as the pain and discomfort.
Devastated by the injury and how it affected his soccer skills, Alejandro and his parents sought out the professional opinion of Dr. Vitolo. What followed was his diagnosis of recurrent patellar dislocation. Instead of performing MPFL repair again on Alejandro as was done initially by a different surgeon to correct the problem, Dr. Vitolo performed MPFL reconstruction surgery.
Dr. Vitolo advised the young athlete to expect to be out of commission for roughly 6 - 8 months, but Alejandro was back on the soccer field in five months.
Following eight weeks of working hard at physical therapy Alejandro said he knew his knee had improved. By the fourth month after surgery, the pain and discomfort was subsiding and he knew he’d be back to playing his best in soccer.
“Dr. Vitolo is a great doctor. He allowed me to be able to go back to playing soccer and accomplish many of my dreams in the sport. With the help of Dr. Vitolo’s advice, I was able to have a successful recovery and I will now be able to go on to play college soccer,” said Alejandro.
He feels he has made a full recovery and his soccer prowess is proof. His travel team, Highland recently won the Morris County Youth Soccer Association tournament. Alejandro won the Matt Keegan memorial scholarship this year as well as being voted the New Jersey Herald’s soccer player of the year.
“I would strongly recommend Dr. Vitolo to anyone with any type of shoulder or knee injury because he isn't just a great surgeon but he’s very personable and understanding, said Alejandro.
“I am completely better and I am now able to be in the best shape I ever have been in.
Q & A with Dr. Vitolo-
-What surgery was performed on Alejandro?
*"Alejandro had a condition called, recurrent patellar dislocation. The surgery is called an MPFL reconstruction. It prevents the kneecap from continually dislocating."
-Will his operation to repair his injury be a permanent fix or might he experience issues later on in life ( i.e. Is he now susceptible to future problems in that same injury sight?)
*"Any injury can make you susceptible to problems in the future but the reconstruction, rather than the repair which was previously performed by another surgeon in his native country, allowed him to play the sport that he loves and at the highest level."
- Do teens heal differently than middle agers and older adults?
*"Yes teenagers certainly heal faster than older folks for a variety of reasons. Growth factors, better nutrition and faster metabolism, to name a few. Determination with many young people is also a factor."
-How do you decide what pain meds to prescribe to teens?
*"Normally the pain is transient so most teens don't take a lot of pain medication and we don't prescribe it."
-What type of patient was Alejandro?
*"He had a previous surgery in his native country and continued to have pain. Al is very motivated to achieve his goal of playing soccer and being the best that he can be."