As a high school cheerleader, Makenna Remenaric can jump, tumble and cartwheel with relative ease, but her desire to compete in high school athletics, including pole vaulting, was in question last year when a rare injury put her on the sidelines.
Remenaric, a Fairless High School sophomore, started to experience continuous and increasing pain in her right hip during summer of 2012. Numerous medical exams, X-rays, physical therapy sessions and medication failed to help.
“There’s nothing worse when your kid’s in pain,” said Greg Remenaric, Makenna’s father. “You do everything you can and keep having the same result.”
Makenna’s pain was so intense, she would often come home from school and tear up, her father recalled.
“She’d cry because her hip hurt so bad, and it was just from sitting in class,” he said.
Due to the hip pain, Makenna had limited participation in cheering as a freshman in the fall of 2012, according to her mother, Toni Remenaric.
“She cheered but did no kicks, jumps or tumbles,” her mother said.
Makenna said she referred to her condition as “snapping hip syndrome,” because occasionally her hip would “make a snapping or clicking” noise when she walked.
“It was a shooting pain, like electricity going all the way down my leg,” she said.
It was about that time Makenna’s parents decided to seek out a specialist with the help of a local surgeon. Dr. Jovan Laskovski, a sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery specialist, was recommended.
The doctor determined Makenna suffered a below-the-surface tear of a tendon attached to her right hip. The injury was suspected to have occurred when she landed hard after jumping during a cheerleading practice.
Makenna had partially torn a muscle known as the gluteus medius and needed arthroscopic hip surgery, said Laskovski, who performed the operation on New Year’s Eve. The rarity of the surgery was due to the muscle’s location, which is situated on the outer surface of the pelvis.
The process took two and a half hours at Summa St. Thomas Hospital’s Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center in Akron. Makenna was able to go home the same day.
Nationwide, the surgery has only been performed “a handful of times,” according to Laskovski. He said the operation was done by making three 4-to-5 mm incisions in Makenna’s hip.
The surgery seemed to be an immediate success, Makenna, 15, said Thursday during a cheerleading practice at Fairless High School.
“I haven’t hurt since the surgery,” she added.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
During her recovery in early 2013, Makenna bowed out of pole-vaulting for the Fairless track and field team to rehabilitate. She did, however, make it to her winter homecoming dance in January with limited mobility.
“We were creative and had her go with crutches,” Toni Remenaric said. “She even decorated them to match her dress.”
Following six months of physical therapy, Makenna was able to rebound to the level she was at prior to her injury. Her mother said she started pole vaulting a few weeks ago and is anxious for the track and field season to start.
Toni Remenaric, who coaches the Fairless varsity cheerleading team, praised Laskovski and the Crystal Clinic medical team for their efforts in helping her daughter to “land on her feet again.”
“They all were amazing,” she said. “The doctor knew he could help and made us feel like we were part of the family.”