X-Game Skier Returns to Win Gold Medal after BioKnee® Procedure

I am Jen Hudak and I'm a pro skier. I was competing in Park City, Utah in the superpipe there and I just caught an edge and ended up falling back and it wasn't until I stood up and tried to push off of my leg that I realized that there was some instability and something a little funky in my knee

Jen had done to her knee was crushed that of the lateral or the outside condyle or surface of the knee joint and torn the ligaments in the back,

outside corner of the knee. Have you seen that kind of injury on, I met Dr. Stone the year before and I became aware of the research that he was doing and some of the techniques that he practiced.

Our approach combines biologic techniques with stem cells and growth factors in new tissues in order to rebuild the knee naturally rather than with artificial joints.

It just made sense. Why wouldn't you want to use your own body's natural ability to heal?

Jen was a great example of taking a novel cartilage replacement technique called articular cartilage, stem cell paste grafting, grafting a huge lesion on her lateral femoral condyle, part of her knee, and then rebuilding the back corner of her knee that she had ruptured with a new ligament.

It's not a one-step process where you go in, get your knee fixed and then you come out and you're good to go. Physical therapy is

the majority of it.

All of our patients have to make a tremendous commitment to build their body back better than it ever was.

I was back on the slopes in six months after this surgery, that competition season proved to be my best competition season to date. I won X games. I won European X Games. I won the World Skiing Invitational. I won US nationals. Um, and it honestly didn't seem like I could have lost that.

Unfortunately, when doing another great trick in the halfpipe, she landed badly on her opposite.

It felt as if a bomb had gone off in my knee and I was devastated. I was crushed. I thought for sure everything was all over. Dr. Stone has a very calming effect on me. He didn't look at it just like this big thing that we're trying to accomplish. He was like, well, here's this small piece and this small piece and this small piece and we can put you back together.

For me, it's not just about repairing the joint. It's about working where their mind and their attitude and their nutrition and their lifestyle to see if I can help them really achieve levels that they thought wouldn't be possible again after they were injured.

Dr. Stone has given me back to knees. I'm not done yet. I haven't given everything that I can give and I'm not afraid to, to keep trying.

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
- Jen Hudak

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”

World Champion

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. 

Natural Healing

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.

For more on how skiers can play for a lifetime and avoid knee pain after skiing, be sure to check out all of Dr. Stone's blogs on skiing injury prevention and recovery

Updates from Jen Hudak

In a new injury in 2012, Jen ruptured her right knee ACL, tore the posterolateral corner of the knee, the medial meniscus, and damaged the articular cartilage on the end of the lateral femoral condyle. Each of these was repaired by Dr. Stone using the BioKnee® techniques of donor ligament reconstruction, paste grafting, meniscus repair, and posterolateral corner reconstruction.

In 2013, Jen then re-injured her left knee’s ACL. Dr. Stone reconstructed those ligaments with sterilized bone-patellar-bone grafts from a donor, repaired a new articular cartilage injury with a paste graft, and performed a complex meniscus reconstruction successfully returning Jen to full competitive form the following seasons so well that she competed successfully in 2018 taking third place in The Amazing Race. She bikes, hikes, and skis like a professional athlete to this day.