No Pain, More Gain

Taylor Darden’s Knee Surgery is a Game Changer

A three-sport athlete at Dufur High School who has won several state track-and-field championships, Taylor is usually at the top of her game.

One thing the senior doesn’t have time for is pain. But during sophomore year of high school, there it came. After a successful volleyball and basketball season, an inflamed knee started to impact Taylor’s performance in track and field. Performing at less than full strength, she took third in discus and fifth in the shot-put at the 2012 state championships.

“I was definitely frustrated,” she remembers. “I am really competitive and I always try to do my best.”

Plagued by the severe discomfort in her knee, Taylor’s parents, both coaches, first suggested ice and rest. When the pain failed to diminish, an observant trainer took notice.

Through a contract with the school district, Mid-Columbia Medical Center places athletic trainers in local high schools to provide assistance and training to young athletes. After working with Taylor, Dufur’s trainer Susan L’Hommedieu eventually suggested she see Dr. Mark Cullen, of MCMC Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Cullen is well known in the region for his upclose-and-personal approach to the practice of sports medicine. He can frequently be seen on the sidelines or in the stands at local games, as near as possible to the action and the athletes he may someday provide care to, if he hasn’t already.

“I enjoy all sports, and it’s fun to watch athletes you know compete,” he says.

Dr. Cullen adds that MCMC has worked hard to make sports safer for local youth through the development of programs to improve the overall health and fitness of athletes. In addition to staffing schools with athletic trainers, MCMC has created dynamic warm-up programs, provided instruction on how to throw, jump and run more effectively and more.

VIDEO PROFILE: Sports Medicine Physician, Dr. Mark Cullen and The Dalles Wahtonka High School Football Team

After seeing Taylor, Dr. Cullen diagnosed her with Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome, a condition caused by inflammation of the tendon below the knee cap. Osgood-Schlatters occurs most often in children who participate in sports that require running, jumping and what Dr. Cullen calls, “explosive movements.”

Over-training and over-use can worsen the problem. While the condition usually rights itself as an adolescent grows, in rare cases it can worsen and require more serious medical interventions. This can include surgery to remove bone fragments that can cause the type of severe pain experienced by Taylor.

The athlete’s busy schedule didn’t allow much time for surgery and recuperation, but careful planning ensured that she would be able to participate in at least a part of each of her three sports during the 2013-2014 school year.

Scheduling her surgery to follow volleyball season, Taylor worked to strengthen her knee until she was able to play in the latter half of the basketball season. With hard work, she also was ready to fully participate in her favorite track-and-field events, the discus and shot-put.

According to Taylor, Dr. Cullen’s treatment was a game changer.

“Having the surgery was the best decision I ever made, sports-wise,” she says. “It was really worth it.”

Her performance at last spring’s state track-and-field championships where Taylor took first place in the discus and shot-put leaves little question of that.

For more information about sports injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, call MCMC Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics at 541-506-6500.