Home Away From Home: Sports Injuries a Family Affair

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Sports Medicine

The Klagos familyFor the Klagos family of Madison, the UW Sports Medicine Clinic is like a home away from home.


"The joke is that we have our own wing," says Jodi, 21, a senior at UW-Milwaukee.


Over the past eight years, Jodi, her twin brother Tim, younger sister Jami, 17, younger brother Danny, 13, and father Kent have truly learned to appreciate the continuum of care at the UW Sports Medicine Clinic and Fitness Center. Their most unique story is of a time when not one, but two family members needed UW Health at the same time.


In 2004, when Tim, now a senior at UW-Madison, injured his lower right leg during a high school soccer match, sports medicine trainer Jon McKinley and David Bernhardt, MD, a pediatric and adolescent primary care physician at UW Sports Medicine and team physician for the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department, were at the match. Immediately, Bernhardt and McKinley were concerned about excessive swelling and a condition called compartment syndrome. Tim was instructed to keep pressure off the leg, watch for excessive swelling and numbness and come into the clinic the next day for follow-up.


About 20 minutes before his appointment, Tim slipped and landed awkwardly, putting sudden stress on the injured leg and cracking his tibia. With pressure in the muscle compartments so high his leg was at risk, he was rushed immediately into surgery.


Fixing Tim's leg required two surgeries four days apart. During the second one, while Tim's mother was still with him in the recovery room, his father Kent arrived in the emergency room with their youngest son, Danny, then 9, who had broken his collarbone playing in the yard.


But Tim and Danny weren't the first Klagos kids to be cared for at UW Health Sports Medicine. Jodi had that distinction, with a hip flexor problem at age 13. She's been a candidate for care in nearly every sports season since, for knees, ankles, a deep thigh bruise and elbow injuries. Attending UW-Milwaukee on an athletic scholarship, she's undergone four knee surgeries since December 2006, most recently in March 2008.


"I had the option to have all the surgeries done in Milwaukee but I chose to go to UW Health," she says.


Still, enough is enough. With one year of eligibility remaining, Jodi won't play collegiately again. "No more injuries for me." she says. "I love UW Health, but …"


A fourth Klagos, Jami, a high school senior, was diagnosed in fifth grade with osteochondritis dissecans, a bone condition in her knee. Told to stay away from sports for two years, she then bounced back to play hockey and now soccer as well - she'll be a captain on her high school team next spring.


Over the years, even Kent has gotten into the act – receiving treatment for back and neck problems and a torn hamstring.


Kent appreciates the support for his young athletes. "Their window for competition is very short," he says. "UW Health helps them get back on the field, but they always put the athlete's well-being first and never push them to return too soon."


And the UW Health sports medicine staff? "You get to know these people as more than doctors and physical therapists," he says. "They've all become like family."