Teen gymnast chasing dream despite injuries, thanks to ortho team

Patient Stories |

02/12/2023

Kayleyweb1

Carmel family says Riley advanced practice provider John Doss has delivered “amazing” care through a spate of recent gymnastics injuries.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Kayley Wilson thought she might have to give up on her dream.

The champion gymnast from Carmel has been tumbling, vaulting and mastering the balance beam and trampoline since she was just 3 years old, but last year, at the tender age of 13, she couldn’t get past the pain.

Her goal of someday making the USA National team for gymnastics was slipping through her fingers.

That is, until she saw Riley Children’s Health advanced practice provider John Doss at a walk-in ortho clinic at IU Health North Hospital. Doss is a physician assistant in pediatric orthopedics, splitting his time between North and Riley Downtown.

For the first time, Elonda Wilson said, her daughter felt like someone was really listening to her when she described the pain she was feeling, first in a wrist, then in her foot.

“Every appointment we’ve had with him has been amazing,” Wilson said. “Kayley is very shy, but she opens up and talks to him. I learn a lot about her injuries from his questions.”

The most important thing he does is listen, Wilson said. And he treats her daughter with respect.

“He’s very attentive, and when she talks, he takes the time to listen and give her feedback and give me feedback.”

Doss, 26, was an athlete in college, so he can relate to those who are trying to get back into their sport, whether it’s a team activity or a weekend passion.

“Everyone is on their own path,” he said. “I think everyone’s story is unique and interesting, so I really like to get to know the patient, figure out what their goals are and just really listen.”

Bottom line, he said: “Our goal is for her to return to what she loves – safely and at a reasonable pace.”

Kayley, now 14, has been taking a break from organized gymnastics to help her body heal, but she reinjured her foot recently when she did a gymnastics move at home, her mom said.

“Dr. John,” as Kayley calls him, put her in a boot for four weeks, and she is now in physical therapy. Once that is complete, they will re-evaluate her foot to see if it has properly healed.

Wilson had put her own foot down after her daughter’s last injury and said, “no more gymnastics.” But now she and her husband, Cedric, are willing to wait and see.

“I told her, ‘I don’t make deals with kids, but kid, let me make a deal with you,’” Wilson laughed. “If you will stop causing injuries to your body, we will let you go back to gymnastics.”

Kayley, who has been a state champion in at least one event in trampoline and tumbling since she was 7, hopes to return to the gym soon to continue her quest to become an elite gymnast at the national level.

“Dr. John” and the ortho clinic at IU North in Carmel see walk-in patients Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org

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John W. Doss, PA-C

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery