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Volleyball athlete who suffered ACL injury glad to be back on the court thanks to Beacon clinical team

Suriya Van der Oord playing on the volleyball court.

The volleyball gene seems to run in the Van der Oord family. Suriya Van der Oord is a crackerjack volleyball athlete, taking after her parents. She has been involved with club volleyball since she was 12. Now pursuing a degree in rehab science, she is in her fourth year attending Indiana University South Bend on a volleyball scholarship.

“I enjoy the competitiveness of it. I enjoy the sense of team,” Suriya said. She also appreciates the benefits of being introduced “to a bunch of different girls from different backgrounds and being able to connect with them, being able to continue to compete at a higher level.”

So it was a blow when toward the end of a practice In March 2023, Suriya landed on her left leg the wrong way. The Beacon Health System certified athletic trainers at the University quickly tended to the student-athlete, performing some preliminary tests to determine her injury, and then arranging for her to have imaging tests done.

Within several days, Suriya learned she had an injury to her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which helps connect the femur, or thigh bone, to the tibia, or shinbone.

ACL injuries are common, but that makes them no less disheartening to an athlete like Suriya.

“It was definitely overwhelming, because I’ve never had a sporting injury. Not even a sprained ankle,” Suriya said. “But I wanted to get surgery as soon as possible to start the recovery process, because I knew it takes a while.”

She spoke with Dr. LeeAnne Torres, an orthopedic sports medicine specialist with Beacon Bone and Joint Specialists, about treatment options.

Dr. Torres, who specializes in ACL reconstructions, was straightforward in her approach — Suriya appreciated this — and helped explain the process to better prepare the volleyball player for what to expect during and after surgery.

“ACL ruptures commonly occur after non-contact injuries related to pivoting during high-agility sports, such as volleyball,” Dr. Torres said. “The gold standard for treatment in young athletes is an ACL reconstruction, in which the patient’s own tissue is harvested to replace the torn ligament.”

Dr. LeeAnne Torres

The following week, Dr. Torres performed an ACL reconstruction with quadriceps tendon, in which a sliver of a healthy leg tendon is used to replace the damaged ACL. The same-day procedure was done at Memorial Hospital of South Bend.

After a few days of rest, Suryia saw her athletic trainers to begin rehabilitation.

“They started me with leg raises and little things to wake up my quad after surgery,” Suriya said. This was followed by twice-weekly physical therapy appointments at Memorial Outpatient Therapy Services, where she primarily worked with physical therapist assistant Tevin Lake.

“He is used to working with athletes, so I believe he was good for me because he was able to push and challenge me enough to keep me engaged and meeting the goals that we had set,” she said. “He adapted to my needs when I had set backs and he also motivated me to do more when I thought I couldn’t.”

Lake described Suriya as a hard worker throughout his time with her in postoperative physical therapy, plays a critical role in the success of ACL reconstruction. “Despite some challenges, she always came into treatment with a positive attitude and willingness to go the extra mile to get better,” he said.

Suriya’s athletic trainers continued to very much be part of her journey of recovery and with her every step of the way.

“They went to every doctor’s appointment with me, and since I’ve been cleared, I check in with them every day after practice, telling them how I feel,” Suriya said. “They have provided me with very good care. I feel like I know them more on a personal level since I’ve spent so much time with them. I talk with them about things that aren’t physical, like my mental health around my injury. Half the battle is mental.”

The IU South Bend athletic training team takes great pride in the comprehensive and customized care each certified athletic trainer gives student-athletes, said Lauren Burish, MAT, LAT, ATC, NASM-CNC. Burish and her colleagues prioritize every aspect of their patients’ care from head to toe.

Lauren Burish, MAT, LAT, ATC, NASM-CNC

“Suriya’s recovery has been a result of her hard work and dedication to getting back to playing the sport that she loves,” Burish said. “For Suriya, collaborative communication with Dr. Torres and her staff, and Suriya’s physical therapy team, ensured a holistic and patient-centered approach to her well-being.”

It is quite obvious how Suriya was highly driven to return to the court. “Her dedication and commitment throughout the process along with the support of her care team, physical therapists, and athletic trainers propelled her through recovery,” Dr. Torres said.

After 10 months of recovery, which included a couple of setbacks, Suriya was cleared to start doing more activities. It took her a little while to ease back into volleyball practices, but she said she’s in a good place now. “I feel a lot more confident and am feeling more normal. I’m heading in the right direction.”

Looking back on the past year, Suriya is grateful to the entire Beacon care team. She has a special place in her heart for the trainers.

“I’d just like to thank all the athletic trainers, especially Lauren. She played a key role in my recovery,” Suriya said. “They all played their part. I would not have been where I am today without them. They’re a great team and work well together and with the athletes.”

Choose Beacon Bone & Joint Specialists

When your daily life and routines have changed because of bone, joint, muscle or tendon pain, it’s time to see the experts. Beacon Bone & Joint Specialists help you get back to doing what you love – whether that’s playing on the field, running on the weekend or heading out to the garden. In addition, our orthopedic and sports medicine physicians are dedicated to delivering a comprehensive approach to sports medicine for the injured and healthy athlete. Learn more about our team.