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Assumption’s Belle of Basketball in Action after Torn ACL

Belle Thrapp

Quad City area girls basketball season is in full swing, and thanks to successful knee surgery, one Lady Knight is back in the game.

Assumption High School starter Isabelle “Belle” Thrapp, 18, Davenport, says a torn ACL (a common injury for young women) could have sidelined her senior year.

“I have been playing basketball since kindergarten. I just love it. I grew up with the sport and watched my sister play. I am really excited I can finish my basketball career for Assumption,” says Belle.

In the summer of 2014, Belle was playing for a traveling team in the off-season, when she was injured on a play.

“I was driving across the lane and into layup. I got fouled and I landed on my left leg. It buckled and it hurt. I knew something was wrong.”

Dr. Andrew Bries, ORA Orthopedics
Dr. Andrew Bries, ORA Orthopedics

ORA Orthopedics sports medicine physician, Dr. Andrew Bries, ordered an MRI that revealed a torn ACL. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the four primary ligaments in the knee. These ligaments control the knee’s back and forth motion.

“The treatment for a torn ACL is reconstruction,” says Dr. Bries.

“When Dr. Bries broke the news to me, I knew he felt for me, but I was surprised it was my ACL,” Belle recalls. Her injury was severe enough to sideline her from both basketball and volleyball her junior year. “I knew I was going to miss my favorite sports, but my goal was to play one more year.”

Dr. Bries performed the ACL surgery at Crow Valley Surgery Center, a surgical center specializing in orthopedics. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and usually takes about 60-90 minutes to complete.

“To rebuild Belle’s ACL, I harvested a small part of her own hamstring tissue and built a new ligament,” he says. “This surgery is minimally invasive and spares surrounding tissue, leading to a quicker recovery and return-to-play.”

Belle Thrapp“Patients like Belle are home the same day and walking soon after. Strong physical therapy and exercising usually means athletes can return to their previous activity between 7-12 months. We also make an effort to time the surgery with athletic seasons so that players can be cleared prior to the opening season.”

Every year, ORA performs over 200 ACL reconstructions.

“I was surprised that the surgery was so easy,” adds Belle. “It went very quickly. It was just one day and I was home. I was really nervous and I had never had surgery before. Everyone at ORA was comforting. I went home the same day. They had me up and walking, and I was in physical therapy the next day. I was able to play in a game seven months later at the end of the 2015 season.”

Women more prone to ACL injury than men

Following surgery and months of rehabilitative exercise and training, Belle is back playing the game she loves, but she is not alone in her comeback to health. According to NIH Medline Plus, young women are two to eight times more likely than young males to injure their ACLs.

In general, young female athletes are more prone to ACL injuries than their male counterparts due to body structure, hormones, and muscular development.

“Due to a young woman’s wider pelvis, her knees often point inward to a greater degree. And because women also have less muscular strength than men, the result is greater stress being placed on their ACL. When women land, the knee goes inward, and that’s why they are higher risk,” Dr. Bries explains.

Says Belle, “As a senior, I feel really great. I don’t even notice it anymore. I was hoping to play in college, but I want to go to Iowa State and major in marketing or management.”

Although Belle won’t be playing for the Cyclones, her love of basketball is always with her. “I’ll be playing in Intramurals and really looking forward to my future.”  You go, Belle!