Hannah has felt "at home" on the dance floor since she took her first ballet class at just 2 years old. Over the years, she has expanded her repertoire to include tap, jazz and hip-hop, but her first love of ballet – and now pointe – is evident. The 14-year-old trains around 23 hours a week at a Dallas-area dance studio.
So when a car accident in January 2019 left Hannah with a dislocated hip and injured knee, it was important to her that every aspect of her treatment and recovery was coordinated to help get her back in the studio as quickly – and safely – as possible. The experts at the Children's Health℠ Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine were the first place she and her family looked for help.
"Hannah had been seen previously at the Children's Health Andrews Institute for an issue with her knee," says Hannah's mom, Julie. "So when we found ourselves in the ER searching for a specialist after the accident, there was no question that we would head back to Children's Health. I was certain she could get the care she needed."
Quick access to expert orthopedic care
Hannah was able to see Troy M. Smurawa, M.D., a pediatric sports medicine specialist who specializes in dance sports medicine at the Children's Health Andrews Institute, the day of the accident. After reviewing the extent of her injuries, Dr. Smurawa referred Hannah to Scott Sorenson, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Children's Health Andrews Institute.
After examining Hannah and reviewing her radiographs, Dr. Sorenson fitted Hannah with an immobilizing hip brace. For the next several weeks, she stayed home from school and dance as she healed.
By February, Hannah began a specially tailored physical therapy program with Julie Rosado, a physical therapist, and Holly Nieman, MS, an athletic trainer at the Children's Health Andrews Institute, who both specialize in dance therapy. Slowly but surely, Hannah began to regain her hip stability and flexibility as she prepared for her return to the stage.
Hannah and her family are the first to point out it was truly a team effort.
"The coordination between Hannah's doctor, physical therapists, trainers and dance instructors was truly amazing," says Hannah's mom, Julie. "Every week, they got together to determine what she needed to work on in physical therapy and clearly communicated her progress and movement restrictions with the entire team."
Hannah regains strength and returns to the stage
Over time, Hannah grew stronger and was able to begin modified workouts at her dance studio, though it would take some time before she would be ready to perform again. For Hannah, the physical pain was nothing, but the emotional struggle to sit out on something she loved so dearly was devastating.
"Hannah was eager to get back to dancing and felt capable, but Holly explained it was going to be a long process and they wanted to make sure she was completely ready," Julie says.
In May, Hannah was able to join her dance company for their spring recital, dancing three pieces and feeling more and more like her old self again. Her trainer, Holly, and physical therapist, Julie, were there to watch her perform.
"One of Hannah's questions during her first visit with us was whether she would be able to perform in her spring concert so that was always one of our goals," says Holly. "We understand and respect how much dancers dislike missing rehearsal so we wanted to get her back into the dance studio as soon as we felt she was able. She has an amazing support system through her dance studio, and they were more than happy to keep in touch regarding Hannah's restrictions which made the process extremely seamless."
By the end of May, Hannah graduated from physical therapy and was cleared of all restrictions. Despite missing so much school her spring semester, she maintained a 3.67 GPA and was awarded the "Embracing Changes" award for her resilience since the accident.
"Hannah is a brave and wonderful young lady," Dr. Sorenson says. "She handled this challenging situation with determination and strength and is a great example to all of us."
Hannah is back on the dance floor with a renewed excitement to continue pursuing her dance career – even traveling to Georgia this summer to study at a ballet studio in Atlanta.
The Dance Sports Medicine program at Children's Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is specifically tailored for the treatment, rehabilitation and injury prevention of dancers to help them get back on their feet. Learn more about our comprehensive sports medicine programs and services.
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