Watch an X-Game skier's story
Our patient, Jen Hudak, tells of her incredible journey from injury to recovery.
Professional freestyle skier, Jen Hudak needs two hands to count the bones and joints she's injured over the years. It's hardly surprising. Her career involves skiing at top speed into a giant half pipe of snow packed so hard it's almost ice. She flies up and over the edge of the pipe and hovers briefly, twisting and turning in midair before landing back to do it all over again, trick after trick.
“I think the passion really originates from the pure joy and love that I have while doing it.” says Jen. “It’s a lot of fun and then you get that part where you want to achieve greatness and you want to become the best and that pushes you a little further and it gets you to where you want to start taking some risks”
Certainly Jen has achieved greatness. She’s a 5 time X-Game medalist and has won nearly every competition in her sport: X-Games, US Open, World Ski Invitational, Dew Tour, and US Nationals. Now she has her sights set on Olympic Gold in Sochi 2014, when half pipe skiing will be an Olympic sport for the first time. All this despite some serious setbacks.
In 2009, a devastating knee injury threatened to cut short Jen's sporting career. She sought out The Stone Clinic to help repair her joint. As a pioneer in the field of orthopedics, Kevin R Stone MD uses stem cells and growth factors to help rebuild joints naturally rather than with artificial replacements. "The goal isn't just to get someone back on the slopes" insists Dr. Stone "The goal is to have that person heal their mind and their body and come back fitter than they were before they got hurt." Jen underwent a novel cartilage replacement procedure where Dr. Stone used a technique called an articular cartilage stem cell paste graft, grafting a huge lesion on her lateral femoral condyle, part of her knee and then rebuilding the back corner of her knee where she had ruptured the ligament.
Post surgery, Jen worked hard on her rehabilitation, helped by the team at The Stone Clinic. "There was a lot expected of me and I expected a lot of myself. I wanted to heal ahead of the curve, I wanted to be back on my feet as soon as I could and they were ready to help me do that." Within 6 months she was back on the slopes. That season was her best season to date; she pushed her newly fixed joint to the limits and won every major competition. For Dr. Stone, the success of an athlete like Jen is a vindication of all that he does. It provides the ultimate test. "It challenges the surgical techniques that we have been innovating for so long to regrow durable cartilage," he says. "It challenges the surgical stabilization ligament techniques that all push beyond the limits that other people thought were possible."
Jen's inspiring story doesn't end here. Watch the video (above) to find out what happened next and learn how Dr. Stone was able to help her a second time. Hear Jen talk about the challenges she faces as she strives towards her Olympic dream.