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My name is Blake McPherson. I am twenty-one years old and currently in my third year at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I was a blue chip football and track recruit out of high school in 2012 and had ACL, LCL, and Posterolateral Corner reconstruction surgery as well as medial and lateral meniscus repairs in 2011 after sustaining an injury playing football. My knee never felt normal after my first surgery and was abnormally unstable and weak. I had to quit the football team at the Academy in August of 2012 because of this instability and knew without doubt my knee would be reinjured if I kept playing football. My knee continued to restrict my participation in other events I love and thought the chance of injuring my knee was much less likely in track. But in September of 2012 my knee gave out while pole vaulting during track practice and I knew the work my previous doctor had done had fully ruptured.  I went to the hospital and later had an MRI that showed some substantial damage had been done to my knee. This is when I first met Lieutenant Colonel Brett Owens. He delivered the results of my MRI with some of his Colleagues to me in October 2012. To hear what damage had been done to my knee and my options to repair it were devastating. He recommended the best option was to realign my knee by performing a High Tibial Osteotomy, something I had never heard of, in order to prevent stain caused by my bowleggedness from causing constant stress on my ACL graft and wear on my menisci. It did not sound too appealing, especially after seeing an x-ray of someone who had had a HTO. After that healed I would then be able to have my ACL, LCL, and PLC reconstructed as well as a complete meniscal transplant.  He told me it would be a two year recovery process, which is an extremely long time to an eighteen year old, and that our goals were to get me to walk with a normal gait again and move on from there. I did my best from breaking down and after a few minutes I was ready to focus on choosing an option. I trusted him and right then decided to put my future and the health of my knee in his hands by going through with his recommendations.  A few weeks later I had the HTO and was on crutches for almost two months. I did nothing too active, followed Dr. Owens instructions, and in March I had the second surgery to repair my ligaments and menisci. Again I was on crutches and restricted from the activities my life use to revolve around. I was far behind on all my physical requirements and deeply considered resigning from the Academy. The following summer in 2013, I followed an intense physical therapy regime. It felt weird to walk and exercise again but my knee began to regain strength and stability. I began to build confidence in my knee again and confidence in myself. By the end of summer I was running again, doing basic agility maneuvers, and jumps. I returned to West Point and worked out with the track team throughout the fall and some physical therapists.  In November of 2013, over a year since my first surgery, I decided I would run West Point’s Indoor Obstacle Course Test (IOCT) with the track team. This is a physical requirement for graduation here that tests running, agility, balance, and strength and I thought I had recovered enough to be able to complete it. When I ran it I did not only complete it but ran it in the fastest time on the team. I continued strengthening my knee and improving my balance and stability in my knee. In January of 2014, I began making up the DPE classes I missed. I maxed out military movement, which tests many different acrobatic movements, jumps, and maneuvers. I completed boxing with an A and competed in the Javelin for the track team throughout the spring. I headed into summer with a new confidence in my knee I had not had since before I had ever hurt my knee in high school. In the summer of 2014, I was a squad leader for a six week field training exercise. I was running through the woods, rucking up hills, and traveling through rough terrain with no problems and could no longer notice any big differences in my right knee stability from that of my left. I won an award for the most physically fit cadet and ended that summer able to play and participate in the sports I loved back home on vacation, such as pick up football and baseball.  When I came back to West Point in August of 2014, I decided to quit track and focus on my academics and try new athletic opportunities with my company. I made up missed APFTs, and maxed them out scoring higher than anyone else in my company. I took basketball for a DPE Class and received an A. I felt like my knee was completely stable jumping and running up and down the court. In the fall I was in combatives and dominated every single match. I participated in company wrestling and went undefeated winning the Brigade Championship. I was ranked 1st physically in my class of over 1000 cadets in 2014, after making up all my physical requirements I had missed. I was extremely proud of this accomplishment.  It had been two years since my surgery and my knee felt just as strong if not stronger and more stable than my left, since I still focus more on exercising my right than my left. It is now March of 2015, two years after the second surgery Dr. Owens performed on me, and I could not be happier with where I am at. My knee has little to no restriction on my physical participation, although I do wear a brace sometimes just to be cautious in higher impact activities. That long recovery process has passed. I was able to accomplish our goal of a normal gait and a little more. I cannot thank Dr. Owens enough for the help and work he did for me to get me to where I am. I am thankful I got a second chance and a doctor who was able to get me to full health again. He did so much more than just save my physical and athletic life, but without his recommendations and successful surgeries on my knee I would not be here at the Academy today. I would have lost this great opportunity. I don’t want to say I am grateful I reinjured my knee, but I am grateful it led me to Dr. Owens and full recovery this time. — Blake McPherson








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