• Orthopedics Patient Stories

    Back to normal after potentially disabling knee injury

The below article comes from our Sharing Mayo Clinic print publication:

Jake Kranz in Costa RicaJake Kranz, a senior at the University of Minnesota, recently rode the longest, tallest zip line in the world and climbed a volcano during a trip to Costa Rica.

Any college student would be grateful for the chance to have such adventures, but Kranz has an extra reason. In September 2007, Kranz was injured during a football game at St. Cloud State University where he was a freshman quarterback.

A tackle gone awry resulted in three torn ligaments, two completely torn tendons and partial fracture of his femur.

The injury to his left leg could have left him unable to use it. A seven-hour surgery at Mayo Clinic repaired the damage and put him on the path to recovery.

When a local surgeon recommended several separate surgeries to repair the damage, Kranz’s mother, Nancy, called Michael Stuart, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Sports Medicine at Mayo Clinic, for a consultation.

At Kranz’s first visit with Dr. Stuart, Nancy asked if her son would regain full function of his left leg. Dr. Stuart said that simply preserving the use of the leg was his primary concern.

“My mom didn’t share that information with me until I had begun my recovery,” says Kranz. “I’m glad she sheltered me a bit from the severity of my injury. I needed to get through the initial recovery period without additional anxiety.”

Two weeks after that visit, Dr. Stuart and his orthopedic surgery colleague, Bruce Levy, M.D., reconstructed the torn ligaments using cadaver grafts and repaired the torn tendons. Surgery was followed by a six-day hospital stay in Rochester.

“Successful return to a high level of function following multi-ligament knee reconstruction requires a team effort,” says Dr. Stuart. “Jake’s strong work ethic, positive attitude and family support were noteworthy. No doubt, they played a role in his recovery from a major surgery.”

For the first three weeks after surgery, Kranz’s leg was immobilized in a brace. Then, he began knee range-ofmotion exercises. At three months after the injury, his rehabilitation progressed to strength training and balance exercises. A physical therapist in Kranz’s hometown of Hastings, Minn., provided these services with guidance from his Mayo Clinic team. Physical therapy continued for a year and a half.

Kranz quit school for two semesters while he recovered. When he returned to school, it was in Minneapolis — in part to be closer to his family.

“I’d always been close to my family, but the injury and recovery changed me,” says Kranz. “Although athletics had been a big part of my life, I came to understand that it wasn’t everything. I adjusted my priorities and found other passions and hobbies.”

These days, instead of putting on football gear and spending time on the field, Kranz is involved in youth ministry with college students and mentally challenged youth.

Kranz credits Dr. Stuart, his Mayo Clinic team, and therapy for this return to normal functioning. “Some days, my repaired leg feels stronger than my uninjured leg,” he says, noting he is careful to avoid activities Dr. Stuart advised against, such as skiing.

“I wear a brace when I play basketball and other recreational sports. The last thing I want to do is damage the miraculous repair work that Dr. Stuart completed,” he says.

Kranz is majoring in health and wellness management at the University of Minnesota and would like to work in medical device sales. “My interest in that area developed since my surgery,” says Kranz. “I hope my career path intersects with Mayo Clinic some day. I have a real passion for Mayo and will be forever grateful for the expertise of the physicians and staff.”

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