Patient Stories

Keith W. Lawhorn, MD

In her first game back after knee surgery to repair a dislocated patella, Dominion High School soccer goalie Alie was just getting warmed up when a player ran into her and she dislocated her patella again. "I wasn't even on the field five minutes," recalls the 16-year-old, who had a history of multiple lateral patella (kneecap) dislocations. This time, Alie and her father sought the advice of OrthoVirginia surgeon Keith Lawhorn, MD, who recommended she try something new: medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction, a minimally invasive technique that shows promise for patients with recurrent dislocations.

Testsshowed that Alie's MPFL was no longer functional. In addition, she had a shallow groove on her femur, which gave her little protection against further lateral patella dislocations. MPFL reconstruction was the best option to restore knee stability and get her back on the soccer field.

After her surgery, she embarked on an extremely challenging rehabilitation program. Her goal was to be back on the soccer field for the spring season, which began in just five months. Three days after she finished her physical therapy, she was cleared to return to soccer. She went in cold to the tryouts and made the varsity team.

During the season and initial playoff rounds, Alie rotated the goalie position with another player. By the time the Dominion Titans made the regional semifinalsjust a week later, she was the lone goalie. She was in the net for the Virginia 4A State Final in June – a game that included four overtimes and 15 rounds of penalty kicks. On the 15th and final penalty kick, she made the vital save to lift the Titans to a 13-12 shootout win and secure Dominion's first-ever state title in any team sport since the school opened in 2004.

Alie has high praise for everyone at OrthoVirginia who helped her achieve such a remarkable outcome. "Dr. Lawhorn was always confident I would come back," she says. "I felt so strong after my surgery and this season was the best I've ever been. It was cool to have that hardship and go through rehab and come back and win the state championship."