Gymnast Returns to the Mat After Arm Injury

KateFor Kate Euart, ballet didn’t involve enough cartwheels.

Gymnastics, however, is a perfect fit for the active 9-year-old who started on a dance floor. Kate took right to the sport at age 4, enjoying the freedom to jump, flip, run and dance.

“I just like to move how I want to,” Kate said. “Gymnastics is definitely more exciting to me.”

Training and competing at Buckhead Gymnastics, Kate committed herself to regular practices and meets. Gymnastics became part of her routine.

‘A New Feeling’

While practicing on the beam in April 2012, Kate over-rotated a handstand and fell to the mat, injuring her right arm.

“I had never broken a bone before,” Kate said. “I knew it was a new feeling. I kind of knew I had broken something. I was scared.”

Kate’s parents, Jef and Tamsin, were at their son’s baseball game when they received a call from the coaches at the gym. They rushed to pick Kate up and brought her to the Emergency Department at Scottish Rite hospital.

“You just don’t know what to expect,” Tamsin said. “You never want to see your child get hurt, especially doing something she loves.”

Diagnosis and Treatment

An X-ray helped Allan Peljovich, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director of the Children’s Hand and Upper Extremity Program, confirm that Kate had broken her right elbow. Kate had to be put to sleep so Dr. Peljovich could adjust her arm into the right position and cast it.

Kate wore the cast for about six weeks, which was quicker than her parents expected. Fortunately, Kate had her age working for her.

“Children tend to heal much quicker than grown-ups,” Dr. Peljovich said. “We can get them out of a cast a little bit sooner and get them to rehab a little sooner, especially these young athletes that want to get back as quickly as they can.”

After the cast came off, Kate went to physical therapy at Children’s twice a week for about two months. The strengthening exercises she did, like pushups and lifting weight balls, helped her get ready to return to gymnastics.

“She would do an exercise for a period of time and then they would move on,” Jef said. “It was very rapid fire, one exercise to the next, gradually working her strength up.” 

Back on the Mat

Kate doing a headstandOnce Kate was physically ready to return to gymnastics, she had to get ready mentally. She missed the fun and camaraderie of her gymnastics team, but she was worried about reinjuring her elbow.

After talking about it with her parents, Kate returned to the gym.

“I thought about how fun it would be to do it again,” Kate said. “I knew I loved it. I was definitely cautious about it because the doctors said to be careful.”

In her first meet back, Kate had to perform a handstand on the beam. With the rest of the events completed, everyone’s attention was on Kate as she nailed her routine.

“It felt like I had a lot of pressure on me, like the whole world was staring at me,” Kate said. “I was very happy that I made the handstand and was very happy that I didn’t fall.”