Allison's Story: Top Gymnast Bounces Back After Injury

Published on: 01/22/2021

Allison Roca is among the top 100 gymnasts in the nation for her age division. Although she is only 13, Allison has been competing professionally for the last five years with the goal of one day competing in the Olympics. She practices five days a week for three hours a day and takes private lessons on the weekend, all while maintaining straight “As” in her homeschool studies.

Allison’s rigorous routine came to a halt in the summer of 2020 while performing a stunt known as a front tuck.
Her mother, Raquel, says Allison was learning the stunt when she landed with her knee hyperextended. “We knew almost immediately that something was not right. She was in a lot of pain.”

X-rays and MRI scans at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital revealed her Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) was detached. This is a devastating injury for a rising athlete that almost always requires surgical intervention.

Allison was referred to Dr. Craig Spurdle, chief of orthopedic surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Dr. Spurdle specializes in sports medicine and has treated the region’s top youth athletes.

“The fact that her ligament was otherwise in good condition and simply avulsed off the bone gave us the opportunity to reattach it using arthroscopic surgery,” said Dr. Spurdle. “This allowed Allison to have a less invasive procedure with a shorter recovery period,” he said.

A typical PCL surgery requires 6 to 10 months of recovery, but thanks to careful surgical planning, the arthroscopic reconstruction procedure that Allison underwent is less invasive, therefore giving her less recovery time.

Allison was back on her feet within a week and was meeting all her rehabilitative care milestones quickly. She received clearance to return to the gym for upper body strength four weeks after surgery.

Allison says she hopes to return to competing in gymnastics in the New Year. Raquel credits her daughter’s smooth recovery to the care received at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Dr. Spurdle’s expertise in ensuring Allison had the best possible outcome.

Portrait of Allison

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