Kaitlynn Kurdziel, 19, was used to dancing every day – and at a high level – until an unfortunate fall one day while practicing.
In February 2017, the dance management major at Youngstown State University hit a slippery spot on the floor, did a turn, lost traction and broke her ankle. She was at a dance studio in Struthers where she also works as an instructor.
“I tried to put my right foot down to gain my balance, and I just remember hearing a loud snap,” she said.
It was a Saturday afternoon and she was taken to the emergency room at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley’s Beeghly campus.
“The swelling was too bad initially, so they scheduled me to see Dr. (Sheryl) Handler a few days later, who determined it was fractured in three places,” Kaitlynn said.
Dr. Handler-Matasar, orthopedic surgeon, determined one of them was a spiral fracture in the fibula that required surgery to realign, which took a plate and 9 screws.
“Dr. Handler did an amazing job,” Kaitlynn said. “It was the most intense surgery I have been through, but I was able to recover more quickly because of her.”
The teen dancer is no stranger to serious health conditions. As an 11 year old she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and treated by Akron Children’s. Today, she’s cancer-free.
Kaitlynn hopes to make dance a profession one day, and is now in the physical therapy stage of her recovery. Erin Shilling, Akron Children’s physical therapist, has been working with her with dance movement-specific exercises and is adamant about getting her back to college- and professional-level dancing.
“I’m fortunate that my physical therapist has experience working with dancers and takes the initiative to educate herself on my specific type of movements,” Kaitlynn said. “Today, I’m leaps and bounds better than when I started therapy, but I still have a way to go.”
Sports Rehab recently relocated to the new Building A addition on the Beeghly campus. The department is now located a few pirouettes away from Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, making the continuity of patient care even stronger.
“The new space is wonderful,” Kaitlynn said. “It really is built for older patients like me, and we have access to all new equipment, which is so important during physical therapy.”
Hear more about Kaitlynn’s story – and those of other patients in the Mahoning Valley – by tuning in to the 9th annual Miracles & Promises Radiothon, broadcast live from Akron Children’s Beeghly campus on Mix 98.9 or 570 WKBN Sept. 28 – 29. Visit miraclesandpromises.org to support the radiothon.