Jomari John is a dedicated high school senior and middle linebacker on the varsity football team. He first tore an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), in his left knee, during freshman year while playing football and underwent ACL reconstruction (ACLR) with a quad tendon graft. At the beginning of his junior year, he tore the ACL in the opposite knee, which is called a contralateral tear, and decided to talk to Dr. Sean Keyes, his pediatric orthopedic sports surgeon at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando, Florida, to see what other options might be available to him.
We spoke with Jomari and Dr. Keyes about why he chose the BEAR Implant this time, how his perspective as an athlete shifted during the experience and his return to sport.
Q: How did you tear your ACL?
Jomari: I tore the ACL in my right knee at the start of my junior year playing football. I went to cover a route, planted my leg wrong and heard a loud pop. I immediately knew I had torn an ACL again because I remembered exactly how it felt when I tore my left ACL freshman year. After visiting the ER, I saw Dr. Keyes for an MRI since he treated my first injury, and the MRI confirmed a torn ACL.
Q. After learning you tore the other ACL in the opposite knee, were you concerned about whether you’d be able to play sports again?
Jomari: Honestly, I was upset because my second ACL tear happened during my first game junior year. I was frustrated because I had already been out of the game for a year with my previous injury. Initially, knowing I would be sidelined again made me wonder if I wanted to continue playing sports and potentially get the same injury again. But I really love football, so I was willing to take the risk and do whatever it took to get back to playing.
Q: How did you learn about the BEAR Implant? What made you decide it was the right choice for you?
Jomari: Dr. Keyes talked to me about the BEAR Implant when I came to get my MRI results and explained how it worked. He talked about the benefits of the procedure and gave me the option of choosing between the BEAR Implant or ACLR with a quad tendon graft again. Dr. Keyes had performed the quad tendon graft on the ACL tear in my left knee, and I was nervous because the recovery after that surgery really took away a lot of the muscle mass in my left leg. I decided to get the BEAR Implant because I wanted to try something different, and I didn’t want to weaken one part of my body to make another part stronger. I trusted I was in good hands with Dr. Keyes. I ended up being the 18th person in Florida to receive the BEAR Implant.
Q: Why was Jomari a good candidate for the BEAR Implant?
Dr. Keyes: Jomari was an excellent candidate for the BEAR Implant because we were able to get to surgery very quickly after his injury. With his knowledge of having an ACL tear before, he knew when he had another one and came in right away. He’s a young healthy athlete with goals that require a stable knee, and he is also realistic about maintaining the long-term health of his knee.
Q: Can you tell us about how rehab went?
Jomari: I was a little worried at first because I knew what rehab was like after getting ACLR, but I didn’t know how it would compare to the rehab for the BEAR Implant. Once I started rehab, it was a breeze. The rehab process was similar for both procedures, and it took me about the same length of time to get cleared to return to sport. With the rehab for my BEAR Implant knee, we were more focused on safety and following the protocol to build strength in certain areas before progressing. For me, the recovery with the BEAR Implant was a little faster, and my knee felt less stiff. I was able to get back to running on a treadmill quicker, and my knee felt more stable during balance training.
Q: Since both knees have healed, can you see any difference between the left knee with ACLR and your right knee with the BEAR Implant?
Jomari: Currently, the ACLR knee still feels stiffer to me, whereas my right knee with the BEAR Implant feels less restricted and more natural. I feel more confident in my BEAR Implant knee, especially since I didn’t lose as much muscle mass in that leg. I wish I had the BEAR Implant in both knees. Even though my knee with ACLR is stable, it’s been two years, and I’m still trying to get my muscle back in that knee.
Dr. Keyes: With Jomari’s experience in recovering from ACLR surgery with his opposite knee, he excelled very quickly with the knee with the BEAR Implant. Early on he noticed he had less pain, was able to bend and could move more easily and quickly. His first-hand experience of how the recovery felt for each procedure allowed him to compare the pain and functionality of both knees.
Q: Can you tell us about your return to sport?
Jomari: I got cleared to return to sport ahead of the third game of my senior year. It was kind of scary at first because I knew I would be blocking people and others would be blocking back. After the first hit, I was ready to do what I came to do, and all my nervousness went away. My team didn’t win that night, but it was a successful game for me. It had been more than a year since I had been able to be on the field, and I was just happy to be able to play football again.
Q: Why is the BEAR a good option for an athlete like Jomari who experiences a contralateral tear? Is there anything that can be done to reduce the risk of retears in the future?
Dr. Keyes: With someone like Jomari who had a contralateral tear, our focus was on restoring his functional strength and improving his body control. In the pediatric literature, the rate of repeat ACL injury ranges from 20-30%. As long as young athletes continue to be active and play sports, there is always a risk of retearing their ACL. The BEAR Implant is a great option for young athletes because it allows their ACL to heal naturally, preserves their nerve fibers and allows the knee to move in a more normal fashion. The most important factor in reducing the risk of having a subsequent ACL tear is appropriate rehab and recovery.
Q: How has the BEAR Implant technology impacted how you treat ACL tears?
Dr. Keyes: The BEAR Implant gives us the opportunity to help young athletes and active individuals heal their own ACLs. It also gives us an alternative treatment outside of replacing the ACL with a graft. This provides us with a chance to help their bodies function more naturally.
Q. Has your decision to get the BEAR Implant changed your life or impacted your daily life in any way?
Jomari: I have the unique experience of tearing the ACL in both knees and getting a different procedure to treat each injury. Both experiences combined made me a better athlete, both physically and mentally. I don’t take anything for granted, and I work really hard to be in shape. Before I tore my ACL for the second time, I weighed 250 pounds. After getting the BEAR Implant and hitting rehab hard, I now weigh 185 pounds. I’ve played football for eight years; my long- term goal is to play in college and eventually in the NFL. I am focused on being healthy and in shape to meet my goals.
Getting the BEAR Implant opened my eyes to the impact of technology being developed to treat ACL tears. There are more surgical options you can pursue now to help you get over these injuries.
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-1134 Rev A 10/2023