Healthy You - Every Day

The Comeback Kid

Bangor Area High School senior Quin Karner is the 2023 Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute Comeback Athlete of the Year

Alicia Karner was excited to watch her son Quin play basketball during his first summer league game in June 2021. It marked the first time in over a year she was able to watch the game in person. The excitement in the gym was palpable.

“It was the first year post-COVID, so everyone was really happy to be there,” she says. “We were excited to see each other and all the athletes out on the court.”

However, the mood in the gym changed just a few minutes into the game when Quin fell to the ground after contesting a layup. At first, Alicia expected him to hop to his feet, but when she looked closer, she could tell it wasn’t a minor injury.

“The referees immediately stopped the game, and I could see from where I was sitting that his leg was bent at a 45-degree angle. There was no question, his leg was broken,” Alicia says.

An ambulance took Quin to Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest where an X-ray confirmed he broke both his tibia and fibula, the two long bones located in the lower leg. Robert Wessel, MD, orthopedic trauma surgeon with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute, recommended Quin have surgery the next day to place a rod inside his tibia bone for stabilization. The surgery would allow him to recover more quickly.

A bumpy road to recovery

The day after surgery, Quin was discharged from the hospital with crutches and some simple exercises to help him ease into daily activities. He did not need to wear a cast or splint, just soft dressings to protect the incision.

Dr. Wessel told Quin there was no set timeline for his recovery. “The recovery time for this type of injury is variable. It can take anywhere from six weeks to eight months. A lot of it depends on the injury itself and the patient’s motivation,” Dr. Wessel says.

Quin knew he wanted to return to sports and started his recovery strong with physical therapy several times a week. However, he faced an uphill battle. In August, he began to suffer from leg pain and noticed swelling. An MRI revealed a hematoma, which led to an additional surgery.

“I was ready to move on. I wanted to get back to basketball and football, and be part of the teams.” - Quin Karner, 2023 Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute Comeback Athlete of the Year

A month later swelling in his leg returned. This time, his care team was concerned about the possibility of an infection, and Quin was hospitalized for nearly a week. An additional procedure ruled out infection, but he had intravenous antibiotics as a precaution.

Once Quin was released from the hospital, he was more focused on his recovery than ever and set his sights on getting back to what he loved, sports. “I was ready to move on. I wanted to get back to basketball and football, and be part of the teams,” Quin says.

Beating the odds

Quin hit the ground running. He threw himself into his physical therapy, and while he couldn’t play basketball or football, he made sure he was at every practice. Those who know Quin weren’t surprised by his tenacity.

“He is one of the hardest workers I know. He’s a vocal leader and just an overall great kid,” Bangor Area High School basketball coach Colin Kessler says.

Quin’s recovery was a long process. After several months of physical therapy and follow-up sessions with LVHN athletic trainers at Bangor, he was able to return to sports. He was back on the football field in Fall 2022. By winter he returned to basketball and made a basket during his first game back. It was a moment he won’t forget.

“It was a great feeling to be back on the court with my teammates. I definitely have a greater appreciation for the game now,” Quin says.

Quin will be attending University of Kentucky in the fall, where he plans to major in marketing and be an active member of the Big Blue Nation. His mom has nothing but admiration for her son and believes he has a bright future.

“I’m incredibly proud of Quin, nothing seems to get in his way. He handled his recovery like he tackles any other challenge. I always say, Quin doesn’t say much, Quin just does much,” Alicia says.

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

The region’s leader in joint, spine and orthopedic care gets you moving again.

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