Antonio Parker is a talented athlete who has been participating in track and field sports since he was 6 years old. In addition to being a varsity team member at his high school, the 17-year-old also competed in the Junior Olympics and placed second in the state of Florida for the high jump right before he tore his meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). After his injury, he discussed his options with Dr. Sean Keyes, his pediatric orthopedic surgeon at AdventHealth in Orlando, and chose the BEAR Implant because he felt it would give him the best opportunity to return to a high level of sport.
We chatted with Antonio and Dr. Keyes about his injury and decision to get the BEAR Implant, how rehab went and what his goals are now that he’s returned to competing in high jump.
Q: How did you tear your ACL?
Antonio: My initial injury happened when I landed the wrong way while jumping in an indoor trampoline park. I ended up tearing my meniscus and my ACL also felt sore. Eight days later, I was playing basketball and I fell while going for a jump. Afterwards, I was in excruciating pain, but I thought I just bruised my knee and decided to take it easy. Two weeks later, I went to the doctor to get an MRI and found out I tore both my meniscus and my ACL. I was really concerned I wouldn’t be able to return to competing in the high jump. Once my ACL tear was confirmed, the first thing I did was look up a bunch of videos about the recovery process after ACL surgery.
Q: How did you learn about the BEAR Implant? What made it the right choice for you?
Antonio: Dr. Keyes was already my doctor, so after we found out I tore my ACL, he talked to my mom about the BEAR Implant. I had only looked into videos of traditional ACL surgery prior to this. After Dr. Keyes told me about the potential benefits of the BEAR Implant and how it could possibly help me get back to the high jump, I decided to go for it. I trusted Dr. Keyes, and I knew he would do whatever would make me the best.
Q: Why was Antonio a good candidate for the BEAR Implant?
Dr. Keyes: Antonio was a great candidate for the BEAR implant because he is young and motivated, and he was very interested in having his ACL heal rather than replacing it.
Q: Can you tell us about rehab?
Antonio: My rehab experience went by quickly. After my surgery, it was painful to bend my leg. Once I started rehab, I was shocked by how small my leg was and how much muscle was gone. I had a lot of sleepless nights and decided to take some time off of school to focus on my recovery. My initial goal was to be able to straighten my leg out to 180 degrees. After I hit this milestone, the rest of rehab went pretty smoothly. I slowly got back into practice in preparation for returning to sport, and I was also mindful not to go too quickly because I didn’t want to reinjure my ACL.
I didn’t really tell my track and field coach or teammates that I received the BEAR Implant, I just told them I had surgery. My coach had traditional ACL surgery when he tore his ACL, and he was wondering how I recovered so quickly. I was starting to practice running four months post-surgery and by six months I was feeling back to normal, even though I wasn’t fully cleared to return to sport yet. I saw an MRI of my BEAR Implant knee during rehab. It was crazy to see the inside of my knee and how my body actually grew a new ACL!
Dr. Keyes: Antonio is a competitive high jumper who looks like he could hop through the ceiling, and he was really committed to his recovery. The most notable thing about Antonio was how quickly he bounced back. We had to spend extra time counseling him to slow down because he was feeling so good.
Q: Can you tell us about your return to sport experience?
Antonio: I started training to prepare for returning to the high jump about five months after surgery and I started picking up the pace the following month. Track tryouts were in February of this year, and that’s when I gave it my all and made the varsity track and field team. During tryouts both my mom and I were a little nervous, especially in terms of running, but after I made the team, I felt great and had total confidence in my knee. At my first track meet post-surgery, I competed in two events – high jump and long jump. I placed second in high jump with a six-foot jump, and then placed third in long jump, with a 21-foot jump. These were my exact same stats the year prior to my injury, so I was excited that I was back to how I was before.
My jumping leg is typically my left leg, which is also the leg with the BEAR Implant. After my first track meet, I decided to switch legs and start jumping off my right leg. Even though I wasn’t in any pain, I wanted to give myself time to build up the strength and muscle in my left leg in preparation to be my best for my senior year. I didn’t want to take any chances of reinjuring my ACL before then. The last two weeks of my junior year, I returned to jumping off the left leg, and I was jumping 6’2”. My personal record is 6’4”, so I am almost there.
Q. What have you learned through this process?
Antonio: I learned that I’m capable of working hard to tough out the pain to become the best I can be. I gave it my all during rehab, and think I recovered really fast with the BEAR Implant in comparison to others I knew who received traditional ACL surgery. My motivation was a mix of wanting to get back to my sport as quickly as possible, but also wanting to get back to my normal life and activities.
Q: What are some of your goals or plans for the future?
Antonio: This summer, I plan to try out for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Track and Field team. The AAU is where a lot of young athletes come from around the world to compete against kids at the same age and similar skill level, so we can push each other to get better. My goal is to progress from 6’2” to 6’8” in the high jump. I’m going to be a senior this fall, so I’ve been talking to a lot of coaches at colleges to potentially compete in high jump in college. My dream is to go to the Olympics, so I have to work hard to reach the final destination.
Q: Why do you recommend BEAR for your young athletes like Antonio?
Dr. Keyes: The BEAR Implant provides an excellent option for patients with ACL tears who are interested in healing rather than replacing their ACL. It provides an excellent alternative to the current treatment for ACL tears and the problems associated with harvesting tendons from a different portion of the knee or the non-injured knee.
Learn more about the BEAR Implant and find a surgeon
The BEAR Implant from Miach Orthopaedics was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2020. It is indicated for skeletally mature patients at least 14 years of age with a complete rupture of the ACL confirmed by MRI. Patients must have an ACL stump attached to the tibia to facilitate the restoration.
It is important to follow the BEAR Implant physical therapy program. Your surgeon can explain the program details.
Be sure to discuss your individual symptoms, diagnosis and treatment with your surgeon. The BEAR Implant has the same potential medical/surgical complications as other orthopedic surgical procedures, including ACL reconstruction. These include the risk of re-tear, infection, knee pain, meniscus injury and limited range of motion.
Visit www.miachortho.com for complete product information, including Instructions for Use.
ML-1107 Rev A 09/2023