At Shriners Hospitals for Children, the health and safety of our patients, families, volunteers and staff is our top priority. With the rapidly evolving situation regarding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we are closely monitoring updates and alerts from local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and are actively following their recommendations.

Please note that Shriners Hospitals for Children does not administer COVID-19 testing or treatment at this time. If your child has an upcoming appointment and you or your child are exhibiting a cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath or flu like symptoms, please contact your local Shriners Hospitals for Children location to reschedule the appointment.

For the latest updates about COVID-19, please visit the CDC website.

Skip to navigation

What we're up to

news News Monday, March 2, 2020 Monday, March 2, 2020 2:22 PM - Monday, March 2, 2020 2:22 PM

Meet Austyn

Competitive swimmer recovers from anterior cruciate ligament injury

Meet Austyn

Do you remember playing capture the flag as a child at summer camp or on camping trips? Capture the flag is a favorite backyard game that consists of a mix of athleticism and fun.

Austyn is one of those kids who will always remember playing capture the flag at swim camp when she was 16, but not for the same reasons most kids recall this fond memory. Austyn will remember the day as the time she tore her ACL.

The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament, and is one of the key ligaments that helps stabilize the knee joint. It is the most commonly torn ligament in sports. An ACL tear is painful, comes with a long road to recovery and almost always requires surgery.

"A preoperative rehabilitation program and mental preparation is key to success," said Mary Lloyd Ireland, M.D.

Once Austyn and her family were informed of the severity of Austyn’s injury, they received several recommendations from friends to contact Dr. Ireland, pediatric orthopaedic sports medicine surgeon at the Lexington Shriners Medical Center. “I was a patient of Shriners Hospitals for Children as a child and I knew that Austyn would receive wonderful care,” said Kristi, Austyn’s mom.

Dr. Ireland quickly scheduled surgery and explained to Austyn that the recovery process could take up to 10 months. “Since I tore my ACL and had to have surgery, I missed six months of competition with my swim team,” said Austyn. “I did not know if I would recover in time to compete at my high school regional meet, but Dr. Ireland never doubted that I could.”

Austyn’s surgery went well and she immediately started with physical therapy twice a week. She continued to attend swim practices and competitions. She cheered her team on from the sidelines. While it was frustrating at times, she stayed focused on getting back in the water.

“I knew if I sat at home and did not try to improve, it would be ten times harder to come back from this setback,” said Austyn.

While recovering, Austyn found ways to improve and worked hard on her strokes and techniques. “With a lot of hard work, and healing from the good Lord, Austyn exceeded everyone’s expectations! Dr. Ireland released Austyn from therapy and all restrictions just after a short 6 1/2 months, compared to the originally expected recovery time of 10,” said Kristi.

"Austyn worked very hard to get her strength and symmetrical range of motion back so she was able to return to the pool at six months, which is a testament to her dedication and understanding the ACL injury/reconstruction program," Dr. Ireland said.

Once released to go back to normal physical activity, Austyn had to make some changes to the way she dove off the start blocks, which she said was a hard adjustment, and slowed her down at first.

January arrived and it was time for Austyn to compete in her first swim meet in over 6 1/2 months. “I performed better than I could have imagined!” exclaimed Austyn. “After that meet, I decided I was going to swim at regionals in February. I practiced with the intentions of going to high school state. I am proud to say that at the regional meet, I placed second in both my individual events.”

"She is a true champion in and out of the pool, and has proven herself as a gold medal contender," said Dr. Ireland.

Austyn’s performance at regionals qualified her to compete at the KHSAA swimming and diving state championships held in February. She continued to train and work hard in preparation.

“I never would have been where I am at right now if it wasn’t for Dr. Ireland and the staff at Shriners Medical Center, my physical therapists, my parents, my teammates, and most importantly, God,” Austyn said. “I believe there was a reason for this minor setback and I’ve come out a better athlete because of it.”

Austyn advises any other athlete that tears their ACL to never give up on what their goals were before the injury, and to always go to therapy even when you don’t want to go!

Austyn wearing medal during swim meet