Emma Durward was 4 years old when she sat down in a church parking lot to put her shoes on, and the driver of a car, who hadn’t seen her, ran her over. 

The road to recovery would be long. She broke her neck and tibia, and also had a compressed spine. After a year of hard work and great progress, Emma’s parents, Marcie and Matt, noticed she could only take a few steps before collapsing. Their healthcare provider told them that Emma needed to go to a place that specializes in unique pediatric orthopedic care and referred them to Gillette Children's.

Finding the Right Team

At 5 years old, Emma was so small and had already been through so much. “Gillette Children’s was the only place that would help. Nobody was willing to touch her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) because of her growth plates. But once she started collapsing, we knew we had to do something,” Marcie says.

Gillette pediatric orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Trenton Cooper, MD, reassured them at every turn. Dr. Cooper recommended Emma undergo ACL reconstruction surgery. The ACL is one of the key ligaments that helps stabilize the knee joint, which would help prevent Emma from falling. 

Unique Treatment for a Rare Case

Because ACL reconstruction is a rare procedure in someone so young, Dr. Cooper had to get creative with Emma’s recovery. After surgery, Dr. Cooper and his team modified an elbow brace that was small enough to fit Emma’s leg into the knee brace that would help her recuperate safely. 

“Each child is unique and special. It is rewarding to develop a relationship with a family and help them on their road back to regular activity.” Dr. Cooper says.

Emma is now in physical therapy. She will continue to see Dr. Cooper over the next few years to monitor her progress. When asked how she feels about coming to Gillette Children's, Emma says she loves that the doctors are always nice and make her feel comfortable. “Emma is our warrior, and she is fearless,” her mom says. “Praise be to God and the Gillette team."

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