Kevin Kaplan ACL Testimonial by Juliana Hilliard
Patient of: Kevin M. Kaplan, MD
Juliana Hilliard’s Story of a Torn ACL
Hi, my name is Juliana Hilliard, and I am going to be a Junior at Webber International University in the Fall and I am a part of the women’s soccer team. Playing college soccer has always been my dream, yet I have not touched the field during these 2 past years of my college career. In November of 2020 during my Senior year of high school, I signed with Webber and not even a month later, I hurt my right knee.
It happened during the championship game of a tournament in Savannah, Georgia with my club team. The athletic trainer at the tournament told me my knee was fine, so I took some time off during the holiday break, rehabbed it, and then tried to continue playing when high school soccer started back up. I was in continuous pain and my knee felt super unstable. I had never had a major injury before, so I knew something was wrong.
Dr. Kaplan Confirms Her Fear
In January of 2021 we set up an appointment with Dr. Kevin Kaplan at JOI who suspected a torn ACL and so that day I got an MRI. A few days later my parents and I received a phone call confirming I tore my right ACL. My world shattered and I did not know what I was going to do. My life revolves around soccer and being told I can’t play for almost a year broke my heart.
On February 5th of 2021, I had my ACL surgery, and no one could have prepared me for what lies ahead. The first week after surgery was the worst thing I could have ever experienced. I was miserable, my knee hurt, I could not sleep, my anxiety was at an all-time high and I could not believe this was happening to me at the worst time. My senior year trying to finish up school, and play club soccer and school soccer, this was the worst time to go and hurt myself.
Physical Therapy Post-Op
Then, for 8 ½ months I went through strenuous and tiring physical therapy daily. What felt like yesterday had passed in the blink of an eye. As soon as I was cleared, I started training with the team during the spring season and I was excited for the next year going into summer. While this was exciting, I was still having issues here and there and eventually found out I had been wearing the wrong knee brace, but it was just one more bump in the road I would overcome and head into the next year with.
It Happened Again
In July of 2022, I was playing in a summer soccer league. In another championship game, I tore my left ACL, which happened to be the other knee this time. As soon as I felt it knew I knew I had torn it. I was distraught because I knew I was about to go through another hard year and that meant no more soccer once again. Believe it or not my twin sister had just torn her ACL a week before, so at least this time I had a buddy. Fortunately, I had the help of Dr. Kevin Kaplan and the JOI staff to help me through this again.
Creating Positivity Despite the Obstacles
It was hard but this time around I decided to use it as something positive! I decided to start posting on TikTok (@juliana.hilliard) to show the process. Another goal was to encourage other athletes who are going through the same thing. I also have started a T-shirt company called “Talk About Your Knees” (@talkaboutyourknees on Instagram) in hopes of sharing stories and positivity for those struggling with knee injuries! This was another test of strength, determination, and grit and almost 11 months later I was cleared again! By no means was it easy, but I made the most of the situation I was given.
My Experience with Two Torn ACLs
February 5th feels like forever ago, but that day started the hardest 2 years I will ever endure. There has been so much crying and wondering what went wrong and wondering will I ever get back to normal? These have been some of the toughest times of my life, but I woke up every morning, put a smile on my face and made my way through the day. I have worked so hard trying to get back into shape physically and mentally. I have had the best support system between my family, friends from home and Webber, teammates, coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and doctors. Without the help of them I would not have been put in such a good position as I am today.
I have worked tireless days and nights trying to do everything in my power to get myself back on the field. No was never an option and I knew I would never get completely knocked down. Literal blood, sweat and tears have gone into this long-drawn-out process and being told I am cleared after two ACL surgeries gives me faith that something good is waiting for me this Fall!
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