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Complex Care for Unexpected Childhood Injuries

When it comes to unexpected childhood injuries, Riley at IU Health provides the highest level of care available. That’s what 11-year-old Kaleigh Newlin learned after an afternoon of sledding in January 2011, with her dad and brother ended with a broken tibia and fibula, the two long bones of the calf.

X-rays showed a severe break, one an orthopedic surgeon at their local hospital in Hutsonville, Ill., said needed specialty care. He referred them to Riley at IU Health, two hours away.

Christine Caltoum, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Riley at IU Health, explained that Kaleigh’s break would require surgery the next day, using a plate and pins to repair the break. She also explained compartment syndrome – a serious condition that can develop when swelling after an injury compresses nerves and blood vessels, leading to muscle and nerve damage, possibly permanent.

Despite medication to keep her comfortable until the surgery, by the next morning, Kaleigh’s pain had become unbearable, a symptom of compartment syndrome. “Dr. Caltoum said the pressure in Kaleigh’s leg was high and they needed to do the surgery immediately to save her leg,” says Kaleigh’s Mom, Karen. “We had no idea it could come to this. To come to Riley at IU Health and have this…we were at the right place, that’s for sure.”

After surgery, which included two, six-inch incisions on either side of the calf to relieve the pressure caused by swelling, and a plate and screws to repair the break, Riley at IU Health physical therapists put Kaleigh to work. “It was pretty scary to watch her go from being athletic and fearless to being afraid to stand up and take steps with a walker,” says Karen. “But the physical therapists helped her overcome her fears and motivated her to do more things independently,” says Karen. Kaleigh steadily progressed from using a wheelchair and walker to crutches, and three months after the surgery she began walking on a treadmill and started swim therapy.

Today, Kaleigh’s back to competitive cheering and volleyball, stronger than ever. “It was an emotional time for us but Dr. Caltoum and the staff at Riley at IU Health got us through,” says Karen. “We’ll be forever grateful. ”

The Pediatric Orthopedic specialists at Riley at IU Health offer coordinated care plans and the latest treatment options for children like Kaleigh who suffer sports injuries, trauma and other various skeletal or neuromuscular conditions. As a leader in Pediatric Orthopedics, Riley at IU Health was recently ranked 19th by U.S.News and World Report's 2013-14 Best Children's Hospitals.

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