Campbell J. Young, Australian Junior National Champion and Alternate in the Winter Olympics battles her way back after ankle surgery

Campbell Young, practicing lifts after ankle surgery

Campbell, practicing lifts 3 days after ankle surgery.

At the age of 3, Campbell Young took to the ice in a tiny little pair of figure skates and her dad, Rob, says she’s been on the ice ever since. Her love, talent and pure drive for figure skating has helped her accomplish quite a bit in her 16 years. She is a 2-time Australian Junior National Champion and currently represents the country of Australia. Campbell was the 3rd alternate in the past Winter Olympics, along with her partner in pairs skating. Campbell’s age, 15 at the last Olympics, would have made her one of the youngest skaters to ever compete at that level.

Currently, Campbell and her partner are working to qualify for the next Olympics. She will be representing Australia if they qualify for the next Junior Worlds and Worlds competitions.

Less than 2 months ago, Campbell was training with her partner (who is 6’3”, compared to her 5’ 3”) doing a triple throw. The triple throw is a maneuver where Campbell’s partner throws her 4 feet in the air, she completes 3 rotations, and lands on 1 thin blade.

* We did a bit of physics to better explain this skating maneuver: Unlike a solo jump, the triple throw gets its momentum from the throw itself. The force has to be significant enough to launch Campbell 4-feet into the air and for her to complete 3 rotations. She then lands on one blade with the combined force of her throw, rotation, and landing. This force can be anywhere from 8 to 10 times her body weight. Even if Campbell is a tiny 100 pounds, that means she’s landing on her leg, foot and ankle with 800 to 1,000 pounds of force. Physicists tell us that would be the equivalent of going 70 miles-an-hour and slamming on the brakes to stop completely.

Back to our story:
During practice, Campbell launched into the air, did her 3 rotations, and landed. However, her left foot got caught and she went down on the ice. She knew that she had hurt her ankle, but thought it was just bruised. Tough competitor that she is, she got back on the ice and worked on the ankle for about a week, even though the bruising was horrible. After that week, her ankle was just not feeling better. Her dad and mom sought out Dr. C. Thomas Haytmanek, Jr. at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.

Rob was already familiar with The Steadman Clinic because Dr. Matthew Provencher had treated Campbell for a torn pectoral muscle and a torn labrum. “When your world-class athlete is injured,” Rob told us, “you take them to the best doctors in the world – they are at The Steadman Clinic.”

Campbell, Rob and Kim (Mom) met with Dr. Haytmanek. “Dr. Haytmanek examined Campbell’s ankle and looked at her diagnostic imaging. He then asked her what she wanted to do, what her goals were,” Rob explained. “She wants to go back to the Junior World Championships,” he told us, “and Dr. Haytmanek said ‘okay, I can help you.’” From there, they formulated a plan and agreed on the process to get Campbell back on the ice.

Campbell underwent surgery on her ankle that Friday. She had a left ankle open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) of medial malleolus fracture with syndesmosis repair and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection. An ORIF is a type of surgery used to stabilize and heal a broken bone. In Campbell’s ankle, she had broken her malleolus (the small prominent bone on the inner side of the ankle at the end of the tibia). At the same time, Dr. Haytmanek performed a syndesmosis repair which is done to properly align and stabilize the ankle joint so the ligaments can heal in the correct position. He realigned the torn ligaments of Campbell’s ankle and secured them with a suspensory fixation device often referred to as a “Tightrope”. The surgery was particularly delicate, because Campbell still has open growth plates (physis), which Dr. Haytmanek had to be careful not to damage. As an added boost, Dr. Haytmanek did a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection. This injection uses the body’s own healing properties to grow new tissue and to help heal her injury more quickly.

Campbell’s dad told us that she could tell immediately after surgery that her ankle was “better” and the pain was significantly reduced. By Monday, Campbell was back doing lifts and working with the team. “She worked out a plan with Dr. Haytmanek,” Rob told us, “She’s executing the plan, she’s very determined.” Campbell has been doing the work and has been rehabilitating her ankle. She hopes to be cleared to do jumps again in November. Campbell has been working on her jumps and back training to do triple jumps along with her other elements.

Campbell’s dad also shared with us that eventually, Campbell would like to earn a Doctorate Degree in Kinesiology and coach athletes like herself. “She wants to be able to tell them they can overcome an injury and be better than before.” Obviously, Campbell plans show that in the future by her example today. We are certain with her dedication, drive, determination and pure champion’s heart, she will accomplish everything she’s set out to do!

–    Special thanks to Campbell, Rob and Kim Young for sharing Campbell’s story.

Check out the video below to see Campbell’s return after surgery!

Check back for updates on Campbell’s progress!

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