SBL Orthopedics and Sports Medicine puts Newton senior back in the game. 

Jared Wagner Teen athletes are often passionate about their sport. Unfortunately, injuries are common among teen athletes, and when a major injury happens, it can ruin an entire season.

Jared Wagner, a senior at Newton High School, experienced this setback firsthand, but he is determined to return to sports and an active lifestyle, with the help of Sarah Bush Lincoln Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

During the second football game of the season last fall, Jared fell awkwardly as he was making a block. “I heard my knee pop about nine times and the next thing I know I’m being carted off the field,” he said. He remained on the bench for the final minutes of the game, not realizing he would be sidelined for the rest of the season.

Jared said he didn’t feel much pain until he got home that evening and his knee started to swell. Upon the advice of the high school’s athletic trainer and his health teacher, he went to Sarah Bush Lincoln Orthopedics and Sports Medicine to have it checked out. An MRI confirmed his worst fear – a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the four major ligaments of the knee that helps control forward motion and rotation. He needed surgery to repair it.

His first reaction was to forgo the surgery and continue playing with a knee brace. “Football is my passion and the thought of not being able to play for the rest of the season was more than I was ready to deal with,” the Newton Eagles running back said. Jared discussed his options with SBL Orthopedic Surgeon Aaron Eubanks, MD, FAAOS, who is fellowship-trained in sports medicine, and specializes in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee. “Dr. Eubanks supported me in whatever decision I made, but he also gave me his medical, as well as his personal opinion, and his advice was not to continue playing,” Jared said.

“There was a lot of emotional trauma at first,” Jared’s mother, Stephanie Wagner, said. “Dr. Eubanks helped him realize that his life wasn’t over, and that he still had a lot going for himself.”

In late September 2008, Jared had surgery to repair his torn ACL and his meniscus, an extra pad of cartilage that helps absorb the body’s weight. This surgery, coupled with proper rehabilitation, set him on a path to recovery.

Jared and his mother were impressed by the care he received. “His nurse was so compassionate that you would have almost thought that Jared was her kid,” Jared’s mother said. “I have a phobia of needles and I don’t like the idea of someone cutting on me. I wanted to have everything explained to me in detail and they were great about answering all my questions,” Jared added.

Though he had to miss his homecoming game to have the surgery, Jared joined his team on the sidelines for all remaining games, both home and away. “I was the team’s biggest fan,” Jared said adding that he would run up and down the sidelines when his team scored a touchdown.

Also a baseball player and a sprinter on the track team, Jared had hopes of returning to both sports in the spring. While he has made tremendous progress through physical therapy at Sarah Bush Lincoln, he has discovered that he is not quite ready. “It’s really frustrating because I can’t play up to my full potential yet, but I’m determined to get there,” Jared said. “I’m not the type of guy that likes to be laid up. I’ve been involved in sports since I was 6 years old.” With his determination and enthusiasm, he should be back on the field again soon.

While Jared’s high school sports career may be over, he plans to remain active and participate in sports for the rest of his life. “I have been 100 percent satisfied with the surgery and with Dr. Eubanks,” he said. Jared is looking forward to pursing a degree in law enforcement after high school – a career in which he is sure to need a good knee.